It’s the start of baseball season in Wyoming, but you won’t hear the ting of a bat or the smack of balls hitting gloves at Gillette ballfields.
The Gillette Post 42 American Legion Roughriders program, and all other legion programs in the state, were called out at the plate Monday without a restart date.
Cody Beers, chairman of American Legion baseball for the state, announced the mandatory shutdown Monday after he received a memo from the National Americanism Commission recommending that all teams suspend baseball activities.
“With more and more things shutting down, and with more and more direction from the state of Wyoming and gov. (Mark) Gordon, and then this email from nationals, it just kind of confirmed that we needed to shut things down,” Beers said. “Bottom line, that’s what it’s about.
“It’s keeping our kids healthy, our families, our elders — including the many veterans and members of the American Legion and the people that we really look up to in today’s world.”
This means that the Gillette Roughriders can’t practice, meet or work out together, and they can’t use the indoor facility at Hladky Memorial Stadium until a decision is made to restart the season.
Beers said the American Legion was going to look at the situation April 6 to decide on either reopening the season or postponing it further. They will probably mirror what the Wyoming High School Activities Association decides when making a decision on spring sports.
“We don’t know, and that’s the hardest thing for baseball people and for people in sports to admit because we all set our schedules and then we have something to shoot for,” Beers said. “Unfortunately, with this thing, there’s no schedule.”
The Roughriders completed tryouts the week of March 9, and haven’t practiced since.
They were scheduled to play their first games April 3-5 against Harrisburg, South Dakota.
Post 42 coach Nate Perleberg sent out a long Facebook post informing players and parents about the situation.
“At this point, we know it’s inevitable we’re going to miss some games early,” Perleberg said. “We’re just hopeful that we don’t lose too much of our season or the whole thing.”
He’s also been sending players workouts to do on their own while they can’t be in contact with each other.
The decision means the team can’t meet, but it doesn’t mean players can’t get in some extra tee work or practice pitching mechanics.
“It’s really just hoping that your guys do their part. I mean, a lot of the responsibility falls on them with coaches not being able to be around the guys,” Perleberg said.
For Hayden Sylte, a senior Roughrider pitcher who is committed to play baseball at North Dakota State University next season, the last couple of weeks has been a whirlwind.
He also played basketball and his senior season ended abruptly when the state tournament was canceled. Now his senior season of his No. 1 sport is postponed.
“This whole couple weeks has been weird with state basketball getting canceled, and then thinking I was going to get to go right into baseball,” Sylte said. “I haven’t had an official practice and we’re supposed to play games here pretty soon. It’s kind of just funky.
“It being my last season, I just kind of want to get going.”
The late-season American Legion tournament dates and locations, including the Gillette-hosted 2020 Northwest Regional Tournament, haven’t changed.
Local Little League has been shut down as well. Little League International recommended that all organizations suspend activity through May 11.