YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – No high school or Little League baseball has left a big void in the Valley this spring. Not only for local players and coaches, but also the umpires.
“I think a lot of us umpires, coaches, players, we have a lot of fun and we love the game, we love to be around the game,” said Michael O’Neil, a local umpire. “Right now, we’re in the middle of April and so we’re missing that right now big time.”
“What are we going do do in the summer time?” said Greg Patoray. “Because our summer routine is awesome. We know who we’re working, where we’re at, what time the game is, then we’ve got an after-game routine.”
Patoray and O’Neil have both been behind the plate for over 25 years now, mainly at the high school and Class B level.
“We don’t have the luxury they have down in Florida, Texas, Arizona or those warm weather states so often our kids late march early April are playing catch up from that standpoint,” said O’Neil. “But if we were even able to start a season up it would take several weeks for them to get back into playing shape.”
High school teams are still waiting official word if spring sports will resume, along with the school year. Both O’Neil and Patoray said they’re disappointed because this was set to be a promising year for local teams.
“This was to be an “up” year for high school baseball because we have many individually talented kids,” said O’Neil. “Not only in the high school season but down at Bob Cene Park.”
“That’s what I’m going to miss is the summer ball,” said Patoray. “We’ve already been told, if there’s no high school, there’s not going to be summer ball, no Class B.”
Of course, nothing is official yet here locally. Governor DeWine will address the situation at the beginning of May that will ultimately dictate how the spring and summer goes. Like calling balls and strikes, it’s not always the easiest decision.
“Safety is a big factor and we want everybody to be safe and we don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable with the situation,” said O’Neil. “Hopefully something can be resolved and we can all get back to doing what we love to do and that’s play the game of baseball and have fun doing it.”