GREENVILLE – As the spring high school sports season comes to a close due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Greenville Citizens Baseball League (GCBL) continues to manicure the eight baseball fields at Sater Heights Ballpark, home of the Greenville High School baseball teams and GCBL summer baseball programs.
“We have a great group of people that work hard to continue to make the diamonds better and better every year,” said GCBL Commissioner Ron Kerg. “We are very fortunate to be where we are but being a non-profit is never easy during these times.”
“We mow about once a week,” said GCBL Vice-Commissioner Adam Eberwein. “We are getting ready to work the diamonds up, make sure the grass and things like that stays off them and just some minor maintenance, spraying for dandelions and still keeping the grass nice.”
No one will play on the fields for the rest of the school year. No one will shag fly balls, no one will throw a fastball. No one will be eating popcorn in the bleachers. There will be no wins or losses in 2020 school season.
The field will just sit there – ready to be played on – with no one able to play. COVID-19 robbed the Green Wave of playing on the Sater Heights fields, but the grass does not stop growing and maintenance must continue.
While there are no games or practices, the GCBL board continues to perform needed maintenance, cutting the grass weekly, making it a priority the fields are kept in good condition for the day they can be open for play again.
“I really want the kids to play,” Kerg stated. “Hopefully we can get it done. We’re going to do everything we can to get it done. The diamonds will be able to play if we do get that opportunity this summer.”
“It’s out of our hands right now – it’s not up to us,” continued Kerg. “We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll just have to wait and see if we can make it work or not.”
With the closure of the Sater Park facilities comes the loss of revenue from concessions and local tournaments.
“That is exactly how we pay our bills,” Kerg said of the GCBL concession stands. “When you add our three tournaments that we are sponsoring this year – that pays for a lot of the ground maintenance and upkeep on our diamonds. Everything takes dirt, we need to buy new bases and catchers gear – those tournaments and that concession stand, that’s our main revenue source.”
“That’s a big concern,” said Eberwein. “We are getting ready to have a meeting here soon with some the board members to discuss a plan for all scenarios – one big scenario is we do not have any type of baseball that gets played this year – have all of the bills laid out for the winter and make sure that we are going to be able to make it through to next summer because there is no income if there is no baseball being played.”
“Being a non-profit, we really rely on the community to help sponsor our ball teams,” Kerg noted. “We try to keep our cost at a minimum so kids can play but without baseball going on right now, we still have maintenance to be done. It makes it very difficult for this time of the year with what we are going through to ask for money, to ask for donations, but it’s just part of being a non-profit so we just do what we can and work with what we have.”
As the Sater Park sits idle, the bills continue to roll in and payments must be paid.
“You have set costs every year no matter what the situation,” said Kerg. “We already bought the baseballs, we have already bought certain things that are non-returnable. When this came about – we still have some bills, we still have water bills, we still have electric bills, we still have payments and without the concession stand being open it’s really going to tighten things down for the next year if we can’t play baseball.”
“We’re usually done by the end of June but if I can get five weeks of baseball in and play until the end of July, we’re going to. These kids deserve it, the community deserves it.”
“It is something we have a lot of questions about – are we going to play. Right now I don’t have that answer. The Governor isn’t being real clear on things and neither is the Health Department so we just wait for them to tell us what we can do and what we can’t do.”
“Hopefully we can get going and if I have to run double-headers and Saturdays and everything else, by golly I’m going to play baseball. I don’t want to go into August because of football, but these kids need it, this community needs it.”
“There’s a lot of kids this is all they had, this is their big time, this is their time to get away from whatever situation they’re in and go play baseball and if it means working a month later, that’s what it means,” Kerg added. ” Luckily I have Ryan Delk (former GCBL Commissioner) on the board and I have a lot of smart people on the board with me. I’m very fortunate that we have people throwing around ideas and how do we move on, how do we get kids to play baseball and let them play baseball.”
“The unfortunate thing – people are asking when are we going to play baseball,” Eberwein said. “I don’t know yet. The only thing we can do is continue to make plans based off what a lot of the orders are, the stay at home orders and things like that. We haven’t discussed as an organization what guidelines we are really going to go by, whether we go by OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) guidelines, those are things that we have to discuss as a board but we are going to try to salvage as much of a season as we can – if we can.”
“This season is not over by any means,” Kerg concluded, “ but its got us thinking.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Father and son, Adam and Jackson Eberwein take time to mow the baseball fields at Greenville’s Sater Heights Ballpark. (Gaylen Blosser photo)