TORRANCE, Calif. – Baseball, it’s America’s first professional sport, but playing the team game has been on the outs since stay-at-home orders went into effect, leaving little leaguers like the West Torrance Little League in the dust for the last three months. As the president of the little league, Jason Hicks said he receives up to seven emails each day from families wanting to get their kids back out on the field.
“The fields have been technically locked up. So, as you can see, there’s five fields. There’s nobody on them except for, we're still paying for maintenance, so you’ll see maintenance crews down here. But the kids and the laughter and the ball and the sound of a bat, it’s kind of escaped us this year,” Hicks said.
All three of Hicks’ sons have played in the West Torrance Little League at some point. Hicks also, played in the same little league back in the ‘80s. And like most families currently enrolled, they are desperate to get back out on the field.
“We’ve done a few surveys down here. The first survey back in March, 80 percent of the families were coming back. We did a more recent survey and we’re at 94 percent,” Hicks said.
Hicks and the West Torrance Little League’s board members developed four safety plans in the last three months in hopes of reopening. They planned to remove post-game handshakes, add more distance between the batter and umpire among other modifications.
But they’ve had no luck. Recreational sports teams like Little Leagues remain closed statewide by the California Department of Public Health. The closure has been a setback for players like Hicks’ son Zac.
“It’s been hard cause, I like playing with my friends and we’ve been stuck in the house for three months,” Zac Hicks said.
In a statement, Torrance Mayor Pat Furey said in part, “… the City of Torrance is cautiously optimistic that the state and county will allow youth sports soon. And, when they do, the city will look forward to the return of all youth sports, including Little League, as soon as possible.”
With the fields closed, Hicks’s and other families in the league are becoming concerned about what impacts these closures will have on their kids.
“This is a dose of very safe normal and I’m hoping that the powers that be are going to see that. And recognize that this is no more risky than a day camp or a swimming pool or a beach or protests for that matter,” Hicks said.
Until then, Hicks is hopeful that with some modifications, he’ll be able to get Zac and the rest of the West Torrance Little League back in the game.
The following sectors are not permitted statewide due to COVID-19 restrictions:
- Indoor playgrounds such as bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag
- Live theater
- Saunas and steam rooms
- Concert venues
- Theme parks
- Higher education (in person), except where supporting essential workforce activities, including but not limited to providing housing solutions, COVID-19 response, and training and instruction for the essential workforce
- Recreational team sports