The Greater Fauquier Baseball Little League (GFBLL) is playing its normal fall season. Halfway through, league president Bryan Kniceley is pleased.
The numbers are down, but not by much.
Kniceley counts 411 players this fall, down from 468 last fall. “Some were reluctant to come out,” said Kniceley, citing COVID-19 safety concerns and parents not wanting their kids to play in a team environment.
The GFBLL’s biggest season is the spring, which draws over 600 players for baseball and softball, Kniceley said.
They’re using five new fields at the Central Sports Complex in Warrenton and players, coaches and parents are striving to adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions.
“One thing the governor said is that baseball is incidental contact and is easier to play. There’s automatic social distancing on the field,” Kniceley said.
It’s a requirement for coaches, umpires and kids to have a mask with them, but it’s not mandatory that kids wear masks, so few wear them during games, Kniceley said, adding many have neck gaiters. “They are supposed to be worn when social distancing can’t be maintained. We’re doing our best to adhere to guidelines,” Kniceley said.
He said catchers are not wearing face coverings, despite the close proximity to hitters. “The risk of anything spreading is minimal there. We don’t want to overheat kids by having them wear an additional mask underneath their catcher’s mask,” Kniceley said.
There are no postgame handshakes or fist bumps. Instead the teams spread up and down the baselines and say, in unison on the count of three, “Good Game, Yankees” or “Good Game Orioles,” depending on the team nickname. They also tip their caps.
All enclosed dugouts are closed according to Fauquier Parks and Rec rules. Players are asked to sit spread out outside the fence line, either with their parents or along the fence. At the Central Sports Complex, players are directed to sit in the bleachers beside the dugout.
The spring season was canceled due to the pandemic, so summer play was offered in early July. No fees were charged, and the play was offered for anyone interested. They had five T-Ball teams; four single A teams, which use a pitching machine; four in AA, which combines use of a pitching machine with live pitching; and four teams in the combined upper division. There were also two softball teams.
“We had a decent turnout,” said Kniceley, saying the league had 209 kids. Normally the league does not play in the summer.
The opening of the five new fields at the Central Sports Complex has gone well, Kniceley said. Not only are they nice to play on, but the Warrenton location is convenient for kids who live in the northern or southern ends of the county.