One of the great summer pastimes has been taken away by COVID-19.
Youth baseball seasons across the Upper Cumberland were cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. Putnam County Youth Baseball Co-President Chris Westmooreland said he feels a loss without playing the games.
“It’s been tough,” Westmooreland said. “Usually our springs are spent at the ball fields, and so it’s kind of a family thing. It’s been kind of tough not being there. It’s kind of like I’m missing something.”
Putnam County Youth Baseball has baseball and softball divisions for children between the ages of 4 and 16. Games typically begin in late-April and run through mid-June.
Dustin Allen is the other Co-President for the league. He said he misses seeing the players succeeding on the field.
“I miss seeing all the kids out there playing,” Allen said. “I miss seeing them hit their first home run or seeing them get their first stolen base. I miss all that good stuff.”
For many people involved in baseball, the sport is something passed down from parent to child. Allen said he enjoys working with the young players to help build their passion for the game.
“I love baseball,” Allen said. “One of my highest priorities growing up was trying to be the best baseball players I could be, and that’s how I want my kids to be. If I can give other kids the opportunity, as well, then that’s what I want to do.”
With schools and sport activities cancelled, Westmooreland said it was tempting for his children to just want to stay inside. He said he would give all baseball players the same advice he gives his own kids.
“You have to get outside,” Westmooreland said. “You have to keep that muscle movement going and try to throw a little ball or just do something with your hands and try to keep that muscle memory going.”
Allen said the league has been in touch with local officials and hope to have some organized games sometime this summer or fall.
“They are supposed to update us on June 1 to see if they’re going to extend the closures or if they’re going to open things back up,” Allen said.
Allen said you can check Putnam County Youth Baseball’s Facebook page for any status updates.