Play ball!

The Guam Amateur Baseball Association announced Monday that competitive baseball will be returning to play after a 15-month long hiatus.

Opening games for Return to Play 2021 – a four-league season – start the first week of May with Pony Youth’s kicking off the season May 1. This year's opening season will feature a youth 9-12 Bronco Division, PONY 13-15 Division and 14-18 UOG High School Palomino Division Leagues. In addition, the fourth league is the very popular Guam Amateur Baseball League.

With the island’s return to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 3, live sports have returned to the island and baseball has a natural fit to the social distancing guidelines set to alleviate the spread of COVID-19.

“GABA is thrilled to announce that the 2021 season is on the horizon and were excited to provide our great baseball fans with local competitive baseball soon,” said Justin Bennett, GABA director.

“The pandemic has affected the sport of baseball and softball more than the safety measures required to play competitive games on the field,” said GABA President Bill Bennett in a March interview. While the start up had been slow, Bennett said the safety measures, while restrictive, are not enough to stop games from being played.

“If anything, it puts a burden on the team management and coaching staffs to make sure that their players comply with the social distancing, wearing of face protection, and sanitizing protocols with equipment,” Bennett said in that interview.

However, GABA recently unveiled its mitigation plan, which has been approved by Department of Public Health and Social Services.

“Public Health has accepted the health and safety protocols that will guide baseball game activities, "return-to-play" and that players will be able to safely play the game they love,” said Bennett, emphasizing that the “health and safety of players and employees will remain GABA's foremost priorities in its return to play.”

According to Ray Richardson, GABA field maintenance and safety manager, said the organization worked with a variety of public health experts on a “comprehensive approach that aims to facilitate a safe return. This approach includes a new concept; Return-to-Play Playbook that will be made available to each participating team.”

GABA will be instituting a full season of baseball, The amateur league will hold opening day with a nightcap on May 7.

"Saturdays and Sundays will see triple-headers which include night time games,” said GABA director Justin Bennett, adding the organization is committed to a minimum of 35 games for the 2021 amateur season. PONY Youth Leagues are committed a minimum of 20 games per division,

The number of teams will determine the league size for each division as well as league fees. Games are expected to be played at Okkodo High School.

"University of Guam (UOG) is eager to include baseball into their varsity sports program. High school baseball players that wish to attend UOG for their continued education and play baseball need to join a team and participate in the May UOG High School Palomino Division and Amateur Leagues,” said Justin Bennett. “Over the next several months UOG will be promoting and recruiting high school athletes to play baseball at UOG. Parent-coaches need to start forming their team and recruiting players for a summer season baseball fun.”

For teams that will be joining these PONY, University of Guam, High School and Amateur Leagues should attend the registration meeting: Friday, April 16, 6:30 p.m. at the Capricciosa Restaurant, Agana Shopping Center. Or contact Bill Bennett at gaba@guambaseball.com or 671-483-6500.

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