Home Sports Local Sports Noon Optimist baseball president: ‘We’re in an extended rain delay’

Noon Optimist baseball president: ‘We’re in an extended rain delay’

AJ Roe Photos Noon Optimist Little League action from last year.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Imagine the scene from last year’s Noon Optimist opening day. Every player and their families were in dugouts, with the overflow of players sitting with their teams in the outfield. It was a nice, sun-shining Saturday morning, teams were waiting for the surprise guest to begin the Little League season. The news came that a special guest to open the season was less than three minutes out.

Noon Optimist couldn’t play baseball without the ball to open the season. Was the person delivering the ball coming by bike? No. By foot? No. Certainly by car? Not even close. The person delivering the ball and parachuting into the field of play: His name was James Lutz. Lutz nailed a landing right at second base as he handed the ball off to Noon Optimist president Steve Dodson to open up the league season on March 9.

If only this year were last year, and things were as simple as that.

The Little League International call came on March 13 and seemed to be following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Little League International controls the Little Leagues in town, Noon Optimist and Lions Hondo — that is where they get their charter from. The season was supposed to open on March 28. That came and went as Little League International asked that all Little Leagues’ activities be suspended until May 11.

“We can’t even practice,” Noon Optimist president Steve Dodson said. “A week of later the City of Roswell shut the parks down. Also, United States Specialty Sports Association has shut down all travel ball and will not sanction any other events until further notice.”

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Dodson believes the teams can get a season in.

He really wants to play and thinks the league is just in an extended rain delay. He knows there will be flexibility required by the league, and feels that the Little League regular season being completed is more important than the all-star season.

Dodson knows there are many different possibilities. He thinks that with the 12-year-olds, they can have one doubleheader a week. And the league, if the season begins on May 11, can wrap up their season by June 1, announce the all-stars on June 1, and all-star practice can begin on June 2.

The league has to play a minimum of 12 games. But normally, if everything works right, teams play between 14-16 games to be eligible to play in tournaments.

If the team gets in just 12 games, they might not be eligible for tournament season, the all-stars, which normally starts June 1 and ends in September with the Little League World Series.

But Dodson feels like if they can start on May 11 and go until June 15, they can get 14 games in.

If LLI moves the date back, the league can play games in July.

“We’re treating like a rain delay,” Dodson said. “Right now, it’s cloudy and rainy, but they’re expecting it to lift any time and when it does, we are going to get back to it. That’s how LLI is viewing it. We have more time than people realize. We can play in the summer and late summer if we have to. I hope it doesn’t go that far.”

Little league baseball is healthy with the participation of 450 kids, with Lions Hondo having similar numbers. Roswell Little League baseball has nearly 1,000 kids playing, tee-ball to Little League to Major League Baseball.

Dodson quoted a letter from former President Franklin Roosevelt in his Green Light letter: “My dear Judge: Thank you for yours of January fourteenth. As you will, of course, realize the final decision about the baseball season must rest with you and the Baseball club owners — so what I am going to say is solely a personal and not an official point of view.

“I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

“And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

“Baseball provides a recreation that does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost. And, incidentally, I hope that night games can be extended because it gives an opportunity to the day shift to see a game occasionally.

“As to the players themselves, I know you agree with me that the individual players who are active military or naval age should go, without question, into the services. Even if the actual quality to the teams is lowered by the greater use of older players, this will not dampen the popularity of the sport. Of course, if an individual has some particular aptitude in a trade or profession, he ought to serve the Government. That, however, is a matter which I know you can handle with complete justice.

“Here is another way of looking at it — if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of the fellow citizens — and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.

“With every best wish,

“Very sincerely yours,

“Franklin D. Roosevelt”

“We really want to play,” Dodson said. “We’re hoping this works because we think it can work still. It might look a little different, but we’re optimistic and the last thing we want to do is have one more thing cancel.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.


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