It’s been several months, but Thurmont Little League has finally returned to action, following the district approval of its Return to Play Plan. After the league was forced to suspend its spring season, along with all planned activities such as opening day, spiritwear sales, basket raffles, and its annual Hit-A-Thon, the league was uncertain of when baseball would return. After many meetings and conversations with county, league, and town officials, Phase 1 and 2 of the Return to Play Plan was approved on June 16, 2020. Phase 3 was approved on June 30, and the plan was amended on July 27 to include changes to certain restrictions. To view the current plan, please visit www.tllbaseball.com.
Baseball is not only resuming in Thurmont. After many years, the fields in Emmitsburg will be alive with activity as well. Thurmont Little League is lucky to be partnering with the town of Emmitsburg to use the wonderful fields that have been vacant for some time. Each division will be playing home games on these fields. They will also be utilized for team practices, as space is always limited during the season.
Activities officially resumed on June 30, with the beginning of a series of “sandlot style” pickup games for each age group. These games were open to the first 20 players to register online. The players were then split up and assigned to designated coaches who volunteered for each of the games. While no official scores were kept, it was a great way to get the kids back onto the field after several months of inactivity. Among the new restrictions in place during these games were enhanced safety measures, social distancing among players and coaches, mask mandates for coaches, umpires standing behind the pitcher’s mound, no use of dugouts or sharing of equipment, and extra sanitizing of balls and other items.
Registration for the extended fall season, running August through October, began in early July. Despite the pandemic, overall numbers were up this year due to the cancellation of other sports. The league ended up with two Major Division teams, four Minor teams, four Instructional teams, and four T-Ball teams. Practices began in the intense heat of late July, but that didn’t stop the dedicated players and coaches excited to be back on the field.
Thurmont Little League would not be possible without an amazing group of volunteers. From the board of directors, managers, assistant coaches, team moms, umpires, and down the line, nothing could be accomplished without this large cast of hard-working individuals.
Community service is a natural part of any youth organization. Because of this commitment, Thurmont Little League was happy to partner with the Potter Baseball Organization again this year, after a successful charity kickball game last summer. This group of young athletes, led by Coach and Author Jeff Potter, travels from town to town completing service projects and teaching about how baseball used to be played. On July 23, the Potter Baseball team arrived and helped volunteers from the town and league paint the Thurmont Food Bank exterior. Thurmont Little League was happy to provide lunch and snacks, with special help from Rocky’s Pizza and Thurmont Roy Rogers. The league is grateful to Coach Potter and his team and look forward to hosting them again in the near future. They will also be coordinating efforts along with the league to take a team of Thurmont youths to Cooperstown next year.
Prior to the season starting, Umpire in Chief Blaine Young held a clinic at the Thurmont Little League complex for managers and coaches to learn more about the rules and regulations for the upcoming season. There was also a focus on some of the additional restrictions and rule changes in place as part of COVID-19 and the Return to Play Plan. As mentioned, the league relies entirely on volunteer umpires. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the league website.
Finally, on Saturday, August 8, the opening day was held. Volunteers worked hard to adorn the complex with balloons, banners, and signs, outlining the new safety protocols. Basket raffles and spiritwear sales were held, and the majority of teams took part in their first official games. A successful, but hot morning was capped off with the sudden appearance of everyone’s favorite Kona Ice truck. It has been a long, hard road, but baseball is officially back at Thurmont Little League!