By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The Indiana Baseball League kicked off 2020 on July 1st in their 45-over division and their 18+, 25+ and 35+ divisions were able to begin the following weekend with a series of double headers to get as many games in as possible. As of this writing all 32 teams will have hit the dirt after a long delay.
“The majority of our fields are high school fields and they were all shut down until July 1st so that has been our toughest challenge,” lamented league president John DeCosta. “We usually start in April but the good news is that Indiana hasn’t been hit as hard as some other areas of the country so we’re very fortunate.”
The Indiana Baseball League began back in 1990 and John has been in charge since 2008 and has been successfully bringing the league into the age of social media to provide stability and recruiting.
“We annually attract between 30 and 34 teams so we’re right on track. When I took over on ’08 they were in a financial hole and some tough decisions had to be made regarding fees and budget cuts while recruiting some new teams. We started utilizing billboards, we created a website and use Facebook for advertising. It has all worked very well and remain out front in the community amateur baseball world.”
John began playing in the league in 1999 as a first baseman and has been an active part of the league since day one, working his way from board member to vice president and ultimately to president.
“The league has always been setup well. We tweaked it occasionally over the years but it is well organized in its structure and over the years it has caught on in the community. We had the right people in the right spot throughout the years. The internet has really helped us. We started that early on. Plus, key people make all the difference in the world.”
Fast forwarding to the present day, what procedures has the league implemented to keep everyone compliant with any state or community mandated safety guidelines?
‘Our board got together a while back with a video conference to discuss guidelines. We decided that there will be no shared equipment, beverages, helmets, bats, etcetera. There are only four players in dugouts. Players can sit outside but must socially distance. There is no hand contact at all. Keep sanitizer handy and wear masks when you can. Our umpires decided not to wear masks. Baseball creates its own natural social distancing so we just have to be smart and mature about our actions. Also, wash your hands often and then wash them again.
We continually check the numbers on the state website to check trends. We are finding that in central Indiana the numbers keep improving and are looking better.
One thing that is concerning to us are the players over 60. I sent a message out to our 45+ managers to get their older players pertinent information and for them to check with their physicians to be cleared to play. After all of that the league had maybe a dozen deciding not to play, which I totally understand.”
John isn’t active on the field as a player these days but still manages teams and has the trophies to prove that he’s not too bad at it. John and some of the players in the league also find the time to attend the MSBL World Series in Arizona and the Fall Classic in Florida.
“I get there when I can,” said John
What was the biggest challenge in getting the league started July 1st?
“That’s easy: fields. Nothing opened up until July 1st and then everybody needed to play. There is also a college league that has been put together this year that includes about 130 Division One players and they needed quality fields to play on. It’s a real fight for fields but everyone is happy with how it turned out. It sure caused a lot of sleepless nights!”
We asked John about what makes him smile as president.
“Watching teams play on Sundays as everybody gets to play baseball again. That is a great feeling. All in all, you got it done. You get to see the games actually being played that started as just an entry on a piece of paper and that you had a part in making that happen. That’s why I do this.”.