Cries of ‘Play Ball’ can be heard around Parma’s youth baseball and softball fields

PARMA, Ohio — Recreation directors throughout Northeast Ohio had to make tough decisions this spring going into summer with regards to youth baseball and softball leagues.

While many communities canceled programs, Parma decided to offer kids a modified schedule that relies heavily on safety protocols related to COVID-19.

Still, Parma Parks & Recreation Director Mickey Vittardi admittedly didn’t know what kind of interest there would be from the community. To his surprise, there are currently 738 boys and girls signed up for baseball and softball this summer, which — while less than last year’s 1,043 signups — he said is impressive.

“The numbers have been better than what I anticipated,” Vittardi said. “We ended up having to stop our registration about two weeks ago in order to organize, form the leagues, make schedules and order uniforms.

“Since that time, we have taken names, addresses and phone numbers for a waiting list, which is bigger than we ever had before. People are itching to play after the registration period ended.”

The season, which runs through mid-August, kicks off this week with practices and games.

Following Responsible Restart Ohio guidelines, Vittardi said restrictions are designed to make it safe for kids and parents. In addition to social distancing and hygiene guidelines, players in the dugouts must wear masks.

Also, each team uses its own baseballs or softballs to limit exposure, while a game supervisor will be present to sanitize any shared equipment before use. Umpires will be behind the pitcher, while the catcher will allow as much distance as they can behind the batter.

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