By Ray Hamill — Exactly one month ago today the sports world as we know it changed in ways we could never have anticipated.
When Ferndale’s Landon Gomes threw the final pitch in a 9-3 win over Laytonville, little did we know that would be the final pitch of his high school career and signal an end to the local spring season for all sports.
The shutdown has been received with the same sentiment all across the North Coast by coaches, athletes and fans alike.
It’s disappointing but beyond our control, and that’s a healthy way to view things.
And for now, pretty much all we can do is play the waiting game, hoping to see a return to action sooner rather than later.
So when can we realistically expect to see some local sports again?
Of course it’s difficult to predict in what has been a fast-changing situation, and most sporting schedules remain completely up in the air for now.
What we do know, however, is that the situation has not deteriorated locally and throughout California to the extent it has elsewhere and there are positive signs, including a fourth straight day here in Humboldt County with no new coronavirus cases reported.
On Friday, California’s top public health official said that the coronavirus might not be as devastating as state officials had feared and Governor Gavin Newsom said his administration now is planning for how to reopen the state.
It still is going to take some time, especially on the sporting front, and with the local high schools remaining closed through the school year, we’re not going to see any more high school sports before the summer.
Some local coaches are still hoping to hold some type of an abbreviated prep season, perhaps independently of the schools and during the summer months.
But that remains unlikely, mostly because of insurance costs.
“That’s something the coaches could agree to do, but I haven’t heard anything about that,” St. Bernard’s baseball head coach Matt Tomlin said. “I don’t know if we could get insured, and I think that’s the big thing.”
While some people are talking about fall sports being affected, it would appear way too early to suggest that right now, although preparations for fall sports are certainly being affected.
The more pertinent question right now is how much of a summer sports season can we expect?
For now, the Humboldt B52s and Humboldt Crabs are still cautiously optimistic of a season, while Redwood Acres Raceway officials are confident their season will go ahead, but they will continue to cancel events as needed while hoping to reschedule later in the summer.
After canceling the season-opening night, which was set for May 2, the iconic local raceway is now tentatively scheduled to open the season on May 16.
American Legion baseball this week announced the cancelation of this summer’s playoffs, but a local season is still possible, depending on what the Humboldt County teams opt to do.
Sporting events with smaller gatherings, such as the Legion baseball or the Humboldt B52s, are the most likely to return first, while events that attract bigger crowds such as the Humboldt Crabs, the local MMA fight nights and Redwood Acres may have to wait a little longer.
According to Crabs president David Sharp, their season is “Cautiously still a go, but taking it day to day.”
The club board will meet on Wednesday to assess the situation.
“Crossing our fingers,” Sharp said. “But won’t put our fans and players at risk. Ultimately, we’ll follow our public health officials’ orders.”
Local MMA, Little League, softball and just about everything else remains on hold for now, one month after the sports shutdown officially began here on the North Coast.
We’re still all playing the waiting game in what is the first complete worldwide sports shutdown since World War II.
That puts things in perspective.