Summer baseball on deck for several area teams

Safety guidelines in place for players, fans
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

Even though a couple of baseball leagues were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, several teams will still be taking the diamond this summer.

High schools aged teams from Shawano and Clintonville plan to play, while Oconto Falls had hoped to play but now looks like it won’t be. The Dairyland League (amateur ball) also announced it was going to play its season.

Because the American Legion season was canceled, the high school-aged teams cannot be affiliated with Legion in any way.

Shawano’s team will be playing under the Shawano Youth League organization, with Dustin Beyer serving as the head coach. The 18-and-under team got the OK from the youth league to play this summer, with the one exception being that it cannot host tournaments.

Shawano, which will have two teams (like a typical Legion season), will be supported financially through the youth league, with the players paying the same fee that the other youth league athletes do to play.

“We are all just glad to be able to play some baseball this summer,” said Beyer. “It has been a crazy spring, and we are just looking forward to practice and playing some games and getting back to some sort of normal summer.”

Clintonville has been practicing for a couple of weeks and anticipates playing a summer schedule, but final details on its season were not available at press time because of a city council meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was supposed to confirm starting dates and safety protocols for the team.

Mike Bouche, who was set to coach Oconto Falls, had a team assembled, and insurance forms filled out for play this summer. Because the city parks are still closed, the coach isn’t sure the team will be able to play this summer after all. Bouche hoped a city council meeting on Tuesday would clear up the status of the team.

Three of the area’s other Legion teams (Marion/Tigerton, Wittenberg-Birnamwood and Menominee Indian) stated they wouldn’t be playing this summer unless something drastic changed.

Ryan Engel, who was going to coach Bonduel’s Legion team, said there was a possibility that the school plays games in July as part of the WIAA 30-day contact period. The team had no plans to put together a schedule like Shawano or Clintonville.

Putting together a schedule has been tough for Beyer, as some teams are not allowed to play on their fields yet.

Beyer anticipated Shawano playing between 12-15 games, starting on June 18 and wrapping up on July 25. Appleton, Ashwaubenon, Clintonville, Denmark, St. Mary’s Menasha, Antigo and Waupaca are on Shawano’s schedule so far.

While some aspects of gameday are still being worked out, a number of safety precautions are in place in order to create as safe an environment for teams, workers and fans as possible.

According to Beyer, players will not be allowed to share equipment or chew sunflower seeds or gum. Dugouts will be extended to practice social distancing, while fans will be encouraged to bring lawn chairs so everyone can sit at least six feet apart.

Games will likely only have one umpire, who will be positioned behind the pitcher calling balls and strikes along with making any calls on balls put in play.

Concessions stands will be closed, and players will be required to bring their own drinks. Postgame handshake lines will be eliminated and high fives are also to be avoided.

Dairyland League

The Dairyland League will play this summer, with one regular-season game already in the books. The rest of the league is set to start this coming Sunday.

The league said full schedules were to be announced by Wednesday and that COVID-19 guidelines would also be published.

Teams will be looking to take down Hofa Park, which has won the past five league titles. Hofa Park, Marinette, Pulaski, Freedom and Cecil fill out the league’s East Division, while Bonduel, Navarino, Hortonville, Shawano and Nichols form the West Division.


The Badger Amateur Baseball Association held an annual meeting on June 1 at Silver Lake Lanes in Scandinavia and decided in a unanimous vote to cancel its 75th season.

The BABA cited the safety of fans, workers and players and concern over being able to play a full season in the seven counties the league’s teams play in as some of the reasons it canceled.