MILTON — The crack of a home run swing and the stomp of sandy cleats will soon return to Milton's baseball fields.
Registration for the 2021 season of Milton Little League, which is open to boys and girls ages 5-12, opened Feb. 1. Interested participants have the best chance of receiving a slot if they register by March 15.
League President Andy Farrar said he’s feeling cautiously optimistic about this season, even though enrollment is down and some safety precautions still need to be worked out.
“I think at this point we're just really happy that we're gonna get a chance to play ball,” he said.
The 2020 Milton Little League season was cancelled last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Farrar called it a “lost season” because many kids who turned 5-years-old lost out on their first season of T-ball and many 12-year-olds missed their final year.
“By the time fall rolled around, we had enough knowledge to know that things could happen outside fairly safely, but last spring was the one season where COVID really did wipe out everything,” he said.
Here's what you need to know about the upcoming season.
1. This year, the league has been unable to host its traditional winter workouts, where interested players can get a feel for the sport and turn in their registration packets.
The league’s current low enrollment could be partly attributed to the inability to host those workouts this year, Farrar said.
Instead, the league has leaned on social media to spread the word. Registration and medical waivers can be found on its Facebook group, “Milton Little League.”
While there are currently enough players signed up to have baseball and softball teams at every level, Farrar would like to see more participation.
“Historically, we’ve noticed that we get a big rush right in that last week before our registration deadline,” he said. “We're cautiously optimistic that we'll be somewhere near our normal number.”
2. Players this year should expect to wear masks and to social distance, Farrar said, though the league is still waiting on COVID-19 guidance from the state and from the town.
Farrar predicts practices will begin in late April and games in early May. Opening Day, which is typically full of crowds and fanfare, will of course look different this year.
“We always try to make our Opening Day a big event,” Farrar said. “As much as we would love to be able to do that, we're still not in that place.”
3. Though the league has a great core group of volunteers, more are always needed.
The league is looking for coaches and umpires, and maybe a volunteer on each team to make sure COVID guidance is being followed.
Volunteer applications can also be found on the Milton Little League Facebook group.
Farrar said he started his involvement with the league as a volunteer, when his son and daughter were participants in the program. He’s now been the league’s president for seven years and a coach for 16 years. Last spring, he also became the head coach of Milton High School’s varsity baseball team.
“I love baseball, and I love softball, and I want to keep trying to get the kids as good of an experience as we can,” he said.