The waiting game continues.
Watch and wait. That’s the name of the game for the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League these days.
The HCBL’s 13th season is scheduled to start June 2, but that opening date — as well as the season —is up in the air in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been 13 years, and this has probably been the most challenging I’ve ever had to deal with,” HCBL president Sandi Kruel, one of the league’s founders, told the News-Review in a phone interview Tuesday. “We know we need to get these kids on fields. We know these kids want to play baseball. We know the scouts want to see them.”
How to make that happen, of course, in this age of coronavirus is the trick.
The league, a member of National Alliance of College Summer Baseball, has seven eastern Long Island teams, including the North Fork Ospreys and Riverhead Tomcats, and about 225 players who stay with host families. Rosters and schedules were released prior to a hold being put on things when the COVID-19 threat hit closer to home.
The NACSB said leagues in different parts of the country face a different set of circumstances and unique challenges due to the pandemic. “Due to vast uncertainty about when the pandemic will safely pass and when social distancing requirements may be loosened, it is difficult to predict what kind of summer baseball season there will be this year,” the NACSB said in a statement. “We expect to receive more guidance about this in the coming weeks. Each league is prepared with different contingency plans should it be deemed safe to host games.”
The HCBL has the misfortune to be based in one of the coronavirus hotspots.
“I don’t think there’s another league in the country that’s sitting in the middle of the pandemic like we are,” Kruel said. “We have kids coming in from Texas. Would you want to send your kid from Texas to Suffolk County, New York?”
With so many unknowns, Kruel theorized a drop-dead date for the season would fall in the May 1-15 range.
Perhaps a clearer picture will emerge Friday when Kruel takes part in a conference call with Major League Baseball and NACSB. NACSB is partially funded by MLB. “There’s a lot of options on the table, none of which I can confirm at this point,” said Kruel.
College players already lost their spring season, which was canceled by the NCAA.
HCBL players typically arrive in late May for practices.
“The virus is dictating our lives,” Kruel said. “People are jonesing to see a baseball game. Everyone wants to get back to normal, but no one knows what the new normal is going to be.”
Kruel said regardless of whether or not the HCBL has a 2020 season, “we will be back stronger than ever next year.”