Barring any further setbacks, the Hays Larks are planning to move forward with a shortened baseball season this summer. Following a meeting by the Larks board Thursday night, the organization is planning a June 15th start.
“It's not a definite, we're hoping." said longtime Larks manager Frank Leo. “This whole thing is just hard to predict in what direction it's trying to go but we're going to prepare to try to open on June 15th.” Leo said.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced a revised plan to open the state Thursday. Currently, Kansas is in Phase One with a new Phase 1.5 going into effect Monday. It calls for no more than 10 people in public gatherings. Phase Two, which can start no earlier than June 1st, allows for no more than 30 in public gatherings. The Larks would operate under Phase Three, which can begin no earlier than June 15th. It calls for gatherings of no more than 90 individuals.
Leo has been in contact with Ellis County Health Administrator Jason Kennedy. Both feel fans can be dispersed throughout Larks Park to adhere to the governor’s plan.
“We feel that with June 15th and that mass gathering rule, we can still survive.” Leo said. “If a 2.5 phase comes out and we get made any smaller, it’s going to be hard for us to operate. We’re going to give it a shot. We think the people of Hays are looking forward to some baseball and we’re going to try and provide that.”
This is also the Larks first season in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, which is down to eight members after two decided to not field teams this summer.
“The Colorado teams are actually going to start a little bit before the 15th.” Leo said. “They don’t draw as many people as we do so their mass gathering doesn’t come into play as much as we do here which is one reason why we had to push (our start) back to the 15th.”
The Larks will now play a 36 game schedule over 41 days. 28 of their games are at home including the first 12, all in the month of June. After heading to Colorado for six straight, they close the season with 12 of their final 16 games at home.
Players will report to Hays on June 10th.
Leo says as of now, the National Baseball Congress is planning to move forward with their annual World Series at the end of July, however it’s no guarantee.
Time will tell, but Leo is hopeful we all hear the umpire say “Play Ball” this summer.