Little League baseball returns to Twin Cities

For the first time this summer, tarps are coming off the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Wooden rakes are smoothing out the rough spots.

Hamel, Minnesota, is gearing up to play ball.

"It just feels really good,” 12-year-old Connor Rouen said. “And it’s going to be really fun to just play again.”

The Hamel league is among the first to bring back Little League baseball after the pandemic shut down ball fields for months.

“It’s been a long four months,” said Noah Rouen, one of the coaches here. “No school and not being able to see a lot of their friends.”

The season was delayed until July because of coronavirus concerns.

“It’s weird, I’ll tell you that for sure,” 11-year-old Royce Ullom said.

Sunday evening, the team was practicing for its first game Monday night with COVID-19 precautions, such as cleaning materials for equipment, sanitizer stations and safe distancing in the dugout.

There’ll be no sharing of bats, and each team has its own balls.

“Usually we do a lot more, but we have corona, so it’s kind of different,” Royce said.

There’s an abbreviated season, too: 12 games instead of 25. The season will likely finish up at the end of July.

“You get the camaraderie and the fun and competition,” coach Rouen said. “Just really excited about that.”

For these boys of summer, a new beginning and at long last a chance to play America’s pastime once again.

You’ll hear the umpire shout, "Play ball!” at 5:30 p.m. with 12 teams hitting the diamonds.

“I’m really happy about it, glad to be back seeing everyone,” Royce said. “At first it was weird, but now it’s really fun.”