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Walz to determine the fate of amateur baseball

NEW ULM — Right now, the fate of amateur baseball this season is in the hands of Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

“The Minnesota Baseball Association (MBA) sent a letter to him asking him to open up amateur baseball but the Governor has shown in his press conferences that baseball is out there a ways yet,” New Ulm Baseball Association President Bob Skillings said. “So the (MBA) is in a holding pattern now.”

Skillings, along with Chairman of the 2020 State Tournament Committee Al Flor and Steve Helget of Springfield, attended a meeting of the MBA in Hamburg on Saturday.

“We did not know what to expect from the state board,” Skillings said about the meeting Saturday. “In their meeting in April they were really gung ho to have a baseball season and state tournament. We reported that all of our parks are ready — there are still some things to be done there but it will be in great shape soon.

“We also reported that our tournament committee is in a holding pattern now,” Skillings said. “But their comment to us was that they are still hoping to have an amateur baseball season and a state tournament.”

Skillings said that they did not try and influence the state board one way or another on the tournament.

“But I can say that right now the committee is not too excited about hosting a state tournament that is severely compromised because of COVID-19 and with all of the expenses that we have that go into it. The number fans that may attend are limited. Our ads and sponsorships are way down. This tournament will definitely be a compromised tournament for what would have bene a fantastic opportunity for New Ulm.”

Skillings said that another factor may be the lack of volunteers.

“Our plans for a normal state tournament was that we would need 100 volunteers per game to cover Johnson and Mueller Parks here,” he said. “A lot of those volunteers tend to be retirees. With the COVID-19 situation we do not expect that we will have people that age coming forward, especially in those groups. We understand that so we will have difficulty in getting volunteers.”

Skillings did ask the MBA what will happen if New Ulm does host the tournament but in a compromised position and if New Ulm can host another state tournament when things get back to normal.

“Their response was that they have had those discussions — they are not going to abandon us — they are going to try and make things right in the long run,” he said. “We got some reassurance from them.”

Skillings said that it is frustrating not knowing what is going to happen.

“Especially with all of the work that we need to do locally to host a tournament like this,” he said. “Having it up in the air right now is frustrating. If the season starts early summer we have a short time to prepare. That is an unsettled feeling.”

Skillings said that New Ulm was first on the agenda for the meeting and then left the meeing as the rest of the MBA meeting was closed.

“They were going to discuss what they should do going forward and there must bave been some disagreement because two members (Jon Richter and Dave Hartman) resigned.”

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