The sounds of “Play ball” will be heard around Bryan-College Station after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott included Little League in things that can resume without spectators on May 31.
It’s also good news for the 100-player Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational scheduled for June 4-6 at Travis Field and the Texas Collegiate League, which includes the Brazos Valley Bombers.
Texas Little League District 33’s Bryan United, Bryan Harvey, Bryan National and College Station “will participate in somewhat I would call a regular-season schedule,” said district administrator Damon Slaydon on Monday.
There will be no sectional or state tournaments as Little League has canceled its seven World Series tournaments and regional qualifying events for the first time.
“There will be no play beyond local play,” Slaydon said. “This was a decision Little League International had made.”
District 33 will allow its leagues to play games against another District 33 league if the parents and board members of each of those leagues agree to do so, Slaydon said.
The District 33 teams plan on starting practice June 1 and beginning games June 15 with the league possibly running six weeks. The leagues will follow all state and city safety guidelines in regards to COVID-19.
“I just want everyone to be on the same page,” Slaydon said.
College Station will have to get the OK from the city to use its field, Slaydon said.
Madisonville Little League and Brazos County Softball, which also are part of District 33, have opted not to have a season. Both organizations have refunded any registration fees they had collected, Slaydon said.
Abbott allowing professional sports and youth sports programs to resume clears the path for the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational, which will feature 100 players, 70 from NCAA Division I programs.
“It’s awesome for the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational; we’re thrilled,” organizer Uri Geva said. “One of the big things was safety, safety, safety, and if the governor feels it’s safe enough, and obviously, we’ve added these extra layers of safety to make sure the players are safe, the staff involved is safe and the community is safe. The players are going to be confined into the so-called Bryan Bubble. We’re excited about it, and we’re looking forward to providing some entertainment.”
The players and tournament officials will be quarantined for the duration of the tourney. All players and officials will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival by Baylor Scott & White Health workers and will be checked daily.
The games will have no spectators but will be available via pay-per-view. The six games will be available for $49.95 to the first 2,000 subscribers. The price will increase thereafter and individual games the week of the tournament will be $19.98. A portion of the retail price of each subscription will be donated to the organization No Kid Hungry.
Geva said the CSBI will be adding players from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 possibly later this week, along with landing a former major league player and current analyst to be part of the broadcast.
The Texas Collegiate League’s 14th season was scheduled to start in early June, but was pushed back to July 3 because of the coronavirus. The six-time champion Bombers will have their home opener July 10 against Texarkana with fireworks. The league’s outlook appears more promising after Monday’s openings.
“We’re just very thankful that Texas is on the right path for health safety and kids will get to play Little League Baseball and with all that energy by the time July gets here, let’s hope, everyone can be at the ballpark,” Geva said. “Maybe it will be at 50% [capacity] or 75%, but we feel good about shooting fireworks and having a great season that will start July 10.”
Texas A&M student-athletes at also could be returning to practice, soon. Southeastern Conference officials are expected to vote Friday on whether student-athletes can return to campus in June.
In mid-March, the SEC suspended all athletic activities through April 15 because of the coronavirus. The conference later extended the suspension through May 31.