By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Rock League Baseball powered by MSBL started up Tuesday night, May 26th, at the fabulous Rock Sports Complex located in Franklin, Wisconsin located 16 miles outside of Milwaukee. The 18-over division kicked off things alongside a couple of 62-over games.
The Rock Sports Complex boasts four turfed fields that replicate the MLB parks that host the Pirates, Red Sox, Phillies and Giants. League President Jim Rinelli is busting his buttons at opening up and looking forward to a summer full of baseball.
“We total 48 teams that represent play in the 18+, 25+, 35+, 45+, 55+ and 62+ divisions,” said Rinelli. “We have somewhere for everyone to play. The 18’s and 62’s kicked off Tuesday and the other divisions will have all played by the end of Tuesday, June 2nd.”
What special requirements have been conveyed while taking into consideration the impact of the current virus?
“Our members voted to play pretty much straight up. The umpires also decided to call the game from their usual spot behind the catcher. The players and fans are carefully social distancing, as the complex is huge and easy to do. We have limited players in the dugout to five and each player can bring one fan to the game. We have hand sanitizer in the dugouts and everywhere within the complex.
We have encouraged players and fans to wear masks but it is merely a recommendation and up to them. There were a few players who wore masks, along with a couple of umpires, with more fans than players wearing them but it remains their choice, as long as they are considerate of social distancing. It’s a personal decision.”
Jim was a firefighter in Milwaukee for 25 years and recently retired, opening the way for full time employment at the Rock Complex for owner Mike Zimmerman and complete devotion to heading up the league. The players are very fortunate to have a full-time, on-site league president watching over the complex where all of the action takes place.
“Our players are all pumped and ready to go,” elaborated Rinelli. “A few players had some concerns about coming out, which is understandable. A couple of them have wives with some existing conditions that may put them in a dangerous category so they didn’t want to risk bringing anything home, which is also understandable.
As a complex coordinator for the past four years it is gratifying to see all of the activities starting up out here. We have already hosted a youth baseball tournament and we have another good-sized tourney this weekend. Baseball is alive and well in Milwaukee.”
I asked Jim if there are any pearls of wisdom he would like to pass along to any other league presidents or officials who are struggling with a safe opening and also coordinating the efforts regarding communication.
“All I’ve been doing since February is sending weekly memos of target dates, updates and anything relating to when we’ll be ready to go. Keep your people engaged and not wondering what is going on. We keep people informed with updates after conference calls with local and state officials while making sure all of the facts are out there. They are receiving information from multiple sources so it’s important to give them the facts.”