American Little League holds closing ceremonies

No one at the closing ceremonies from the 2019 season could have known it would be the last Little League baseball in Ottumwa for quite a while. Concerns about COVID-19 have led to the cancellation of the 2020 season.

OTTUMWA — Over two months since suspending activities, Ottumwa Little League’s board made the official announcement to cancel the 2020 season.

Sam Long, president of Ottumwa Little League, cited the list of requirements given by state officials to return to play as too much for the league to implement. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moved last week to lift certain restrictions, permitting practices and competitions for youth sports such as baseball and softball effective as of June 1.

“For our state, recovery means striking a balance between getting life and business back to normal while continuing to manage the virus activity,” Reynolds said. “Our recovery is contingent upon our ability to protect both the lives and livelihoods of Iowans. We can’t prioritize one over the other.

“Honestly, it would not have looked much like the game of baseball we all love,” Long said.

Ottumwa Little League officials will contact parents with a couple of options on refunds for the upcoming season, which will take several days with nearly 400 people that need to be contacted. Parents can receive a full refund by main, have their money carried over for next season and avoid having to pay the higher registration fees ($130 up from $105) or parents may choose to just donate the money to the league to help offset costs. It is considered a tax deductible donation.

“As a board, we voted to not prorate the refunds,” Long said. “We could have taken out for expenses that we had incurred. That would have been a reduction of about $20 per kid.

“Please understand that the league has had to pay bills and was preparing for a season which didn’t happen. Our fundraiser also did not happen which has left us in a less than desirable position financially.”

Ottumwa is the most recent community to officially cancel Little League baseball for the upcoming season. Local leagues including Appanoose and Jefferson County, both in Iowa District 7 along with Ottumwa, have also canceled their seasons.

For 12-year-old players, options are available to play in the upcoming Ottumwa Babe Ruth baseball season. Ottumwa Babe Ruth began practice for 13-year-olds on Monday and will continue holding try-outs for players for 13-year-olds on Tuesday, 14-year-olds on Wednesday and Senior Babe Ruth (16-18) on Thursday. All practice sessions will be held among multiple groups starting each day at 6 p.m.

“We obviously didn’t want things to end this way and held out until the end,” Long said.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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