Dean Carmichael pitches to Ava MacMahan during a Bath Little League game on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Times Record

Bath Little League celebrated its opening day on Saturday, but the league had been playing baseball since Monday. 

After wet fields the Saturday prior postponed the opening day ceremonies, the festivities were held Saturday with a triple-header. 

The players were separated with white lines along the first and third base line fences, fans in attendance were separated around the entire field and hand sanitizer was plentiful. All of these precautions are due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dean Carmichael of Elk’s pitches during a Bath Little League game on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Times Record

“It’s so great,” Leslie Gallant, vice president of Bath Cal Ripken, said. “We’ve had so many positive comments from kids, parents, they’re all excited that we can have baseball in Bath this summer and have a season.”

Bath has multiple fields at their disposal thanks to help from the city and the recreation department. 

“We can use both fields, they’re both owned by the city and the Bath Recreation department,” Gallant said. “They’ve been very helpful, very supportive and it’s been really nice having them help us get kids playing. We are very fortunate that we have these fields.”

Players and parents that signed up are excited to be playing, while those that don’t feel confident playing during a worldwide pandemic stayed home. 

“We had some regular folks that didn’t register their kids so we reached out just to let them know that registration was open and that we were having a season,” Gallant said. “No one ever said it was for a certain reason, maybe it was because of COVID, maybe they go camping a lot but they made a decision for their family to not play baseball this summer. We haven’t had any negative feedback, it’s been lovely, actually.”

“Everybody that’s playing seems to be doing well,” president of Bath Little League Nathan Craney added. “Everyone that had an issue with it or something just didn’t come.”

Players on Chapman-York Realty are socially distanced as they wait for their time to hit during a Bath Little League game Saturday.

The league began official play on Monday with games then happening on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The league canceled play due to rain on Tuesday, but will normally play Monday through Wednesday. 

The social aspect of sports has been crucial for kids who have been cooped up in their homes for the last few months. 

“I’m just lucky to be able to play baseball,” catcher DJ Rogers said. “It feels really nice. We’ve been fishing and hunting but we haven’t been in contact with other people.”

Rogers’ father and head coach of the Elks, Dewey Fraser, is happy kids are outside of their rooms finally. 

“It’s amazing,” Fraser said. “It’s so important for them to be outside. Instead of being inside playing video games, they’re outside playing baseball. It’s really good for them. They’re doing it the right way in this league. Leslie and Nate have been great setting us up and getting us going. There are so many rules, we have 20 things of hand sanitizer, it’s great. It’s been fun to watch.”

The six teams in the league all play 10 games with playoffs starting on August 2. The minors and majors were combined this year, so player ages range from 8 to 12-years-old. Craney said that everyone was on board with the decision and that it’s worked out so far. 

Edwin Keller of Chapman-York Realty nearly connects on a pitch during a Bath Little League game on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Times Record

“We changed our league a little bit because this year 80 percent of our kids were minors players so we made it one league,” Craney said. “It’s still baseball and it’s tough but someday these kids will be freshmen and the others will be seniors and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I know you.’ 

We do have some 8-year-olds and they all signed up before we made that decision but they all agreed they were fine with it so it’s been great.”

Rogers, 10, isn’t worried about having to play against older players. 

“I go in the hitting machines and hit 50s so it’s not much different,” Rogers said. “Honestly there aren’t many kids in this league that pitch fast.”

Before Saturday’s opening game, Craney and Chapman-York Realty’s Ava MacMahan raised the Kyle Fitzherbert flag. The Kyle Fitzherbert award goes to a 10-year-old at the end of the season that exhibits the qualities that Bath Little League is all about.

Bath Little League president Nathan Craney, with the help of Ava MacMahan, puts up the Kyle Fitzherbert flag before Saturday’s triple-header. Adam Robinson/Times Record

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