In any other summer, the sounds of batting practice, pitching and taking infield are routine. In 2020, they are sounds many have longed to hear.
After spring sports and legion baseball were canceled across Minnesota this year, the opportunity to get together and just practice baseball is huge for teams like the Crookston Pirates. Head coach Mitch Bakken invited the 2020 seniors from his team, and several others, to start practicing on June 18 at Jim Karn Field and hopefully get an unsanctioned team organized.
“About 13 guys showed up (June 18),” Bakken said. “So, we decided to keep doing this. I don’t know if we’re going to play games. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but it gets them out of the house, and it gets them doing something.”
Another dozen or so players showed up for a second practice on Tuesday evening. Kittson County, Stephen-Argyle, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, and even Jamestown, North Dakota, have reached out to Bakken this summer with interest in playing Crookston in some pick-up games this summer. Bakken is open to the idea, but he and his staff are waiting on further guidance and for players to get back into shape.
“Everyone seems to be working with a different set of rules, and I don’t want to break any rules,” Bakken said. “We’re not ready right now anyway. If we have enough interest, we’ll look at playing some games. We’re not going to play a 30-game schedule. We’ll probably like 10 just for fun just to get these guys some activity.”
Most of those practicing with Bakken and his staff are 16-18 years old, with the 15U division having already started practice. The 18U players aren’t doing anything too rigorous at this stage. Batting cages, some pitching, light infield/outfield, and playing some catch.
Bakken and his staff are also trying to figure out travel logistics. The Pirates don’t plan to travel all that far, nor do the coaches want players driving themselves to games.
Any games that are played this summer will be against teams who, like Crookston, haven’t gotten the opportunity to play yet.
“We’re not going anywhere to play teams that have played 20 games already,” Bakken said. “It’s basically a rec league where we go and have some fun, so I want to make sure we’re finding teams that see it that way. I don’t really care if there’s a roster or not, depending on how they want to do it. I just want (the players) to get action and to play. So, we’ll see.”