By Matthew Yoder
Central Accomack Little League President Billy Justice delivered the sobering words we’ve all been coming to expect Monday evening at an emergency meeting of board members.
“As of right now there will be no Little League operations at all until May 11,” said Justice.
The rite of spring that brings together kids of all ages and adults to the ballfields in Onancock has been interrupted by the COVID-19 virus, and this small community on the Shore is but another member of an affected global environment.
“It’s worldwide, over 7,500 leagues in 84 countries, everybody,” Justice said.
The decision was made by Little League officials from the Southeast region in Georgia, and included in the mandate is an elimination of all activity on the fields until further notice, halting practice and even groundskeeping. Maintenance of the grounds is approaching a most crucial juncture as soil temperatures increase and growth rapidly follows, particularly just after fertilizer has been applied.
Greg Ford is vice president of C.A.L.L. and tempered the emotion in the room with much needed lightheartedness, but his words were equally poignant.
“We just put 1,000 dollars of fertilizer on this grass, horses will love it, maybe we should buy some goats,” Ford said.
The town of Onancock will be meeting with representatives from the Little League to discuss mowing options moving forward.
“It’s ready to roll, you’ll be able to watch that grass grow,” said Ford.
A greater issue Ford sees, as the societal shakeup continues and seasons transition, is the ability of kids to step in to fresh air and be kids, playing a game they signed up for in great numbers to play, and even just unwind at the playground.
“With the ballfields It’s a chance to come outside, and the playground is funded through a community grant, it’s a community playground,” Ford said.
Central Accomack Little League was just coming off a historic season that saw the boys team reach the world series in the 13-16-year-old division, and a girls softball team also recorded a tremendously successful run. The organization was poised to see a strong turnout again, particularly with the boys, and recently hosted an auction that brought in just short of $8,000 for the League fund. Highlighting a situation many have become accustomed to, if only tongue-in-cheek, a 12-pack of Charmin fetched $175, with G.W. Hart placing the highest bid.
It’s unnerving to see realties uprooted with little notice, but Justice and Ford, along with their counterparts, are always focused on serving the best interests of their community. Decisions are beyond their control at this point, and they believe exemptions will be made to restore the eligibility of kids if the season is a complete loss. A reevaluation date of April 6 has been set to address prospects of the season moving forward.