by Kevin Burton
The governing body of beep baseball on Saturday put the sport on a course to return to playing in 2021.
All sports have had some level of interruption this year because of the Coronavirus. For the National Beep Baseball Association, it meant not playing a world series for the first time since 1975.
At a meeting held by phone Saturday, members of its board of directors acknowledged nobody really knows what the country will look like next spring and summer. But the overwhelming sentiment and confidence of the board pointed to regional and national tournaments resuming next year.
The 2021 World Series is scheduled for July 25-Aug. 1 in Wichita.
“I see no reason at this time why we would have to cancel that event,” said NBBA president Blake Boudreaux. “I truly believe Wichita will be the biggest and best tournament we’ve ever had.”
Faced with the cancel-or-play decision last year, the board lacked time and knowledge about the virus and how to combat it. For its 2021 planning it has more of both, making league officials confident that the games can be played and played safely.
“One of the things human beings are great at is innovating through hardship,” said board member Tanner Gers. Other board members agreed, saying whatever safety steps are needed can be put in place in time for the World Series, even if it means restructuring some longstanding traditions such as the post-tournament banquet.
“It’s way too early to make any kind of determination,” Gers said. “We should continue to plan as if we are going to have a World Series.”
The Indianapolis Thunder and Indy Edge both hosted regional tournaments this summer and a doubleheader was played in Philadelphia. NBBA Secretary Steve Guerra said he is not aware of any confirmed cases of positive virus tests as a result of those games.
When the 2020 world series was cancelled because of the virus, host city Ames, Iowa lost out on about $500,000 in tourism revenue. Ames had successfully hosted the world series twice before.
To help Ames make up some of that revenue, the board arranged to hold an eight-team regional tournament there in 2021. It is scheduled for June 25-27.
The NBBA also returned half of the $3,500 world series entry fee paid by Ames.
The NBBA is still working out details for the Ames tournament. There was some disagreement Saturday as to whether it should be treated as a league-sponsored mini world series, or as an ordinary regional tournament.
Darnell Booker of the Thunder raised the question of the league’s helping to pay expenses for teams travelling to Ames.
“It’s a league sponsored tournament,” agreed Jerry Windell, chairman of the NBBA’s competition and rules committee. He said the league could and should help pay expenses.
There was very little other support for the idea however. Some said paying expenses would set a precedent of league sponsorship for regional tournaments. Other board members were adamant that the funds the league has that are dedicated to endowment not be spent on tournament expenses.
Boudreaux said Ames should be treated as a regular regional. Guerra agreed saying of teams, “They’re either going to come or they’re not.
Teams can enter the Ames tournament beginning Jan. 1, 2021, first come, first served.
Guerra said with coronavirus cases spiking that no decisions would be made about the Ames tournament until March or April.
The one universal sentiment was eagerness to get back out on the field and play the game that has become such a huge part of the lives of its players and coaches.
“This is not going to be an easy year,” Boudreaux said, but added, “I am fed up with not playing beep baseball. I don’t care if I have to go to Juneau, Alaska, I am going to play beep baseball.”