Semi-pro baseball tournament kicks off as one of first organized sporting events in months

Published: May. 30, 2020 at 8:48 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Saturday was a day filled with familiar sights and sounds, like the pop a catchers mitt makes when it receives a fastball. The sounds of competition with a live audience haven’t been heard in months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It feels great, it’s relaxing, it’s awesome to be back out in the sun, watching baseball and drinking beer,” said Chris Strohmeyer, a fan who watched the games with his family down the first baseline.

16 teams from two different semi=pro leagues in Iowa came together in Bellevue for a tournament that started Friday evening and will last through next week. Most likely, people won’t remember which teams played against each other or what the scores were, fans and players alike were just happy to be at a ballpark once again.

“Its kind of like a relief and kind of like a good time for us as players and especially the fans just as like to get away from everything that’s going on, something you can just enjoy,” said Riley LeGrand, who plays for Coe College.

The teams consisted of players in high school, college, and even some who have graduated from college. Some even came from out of state, like the Hodges family. Jason Hodges plays at a junior college in Illinois, but he and his family made the three and a half-hour drive to be able to take part.

“We saw him early in the season when it was cold, and they shut it down so there hasn’t been any baseball but now the weather is 70 degrees, sitting at a baseball park, this is like we did for the last 7-8 years,” said Jason’s father Jason Hodges.

Fans had guidelines available all throughout the park, encouraging safety guidelines like social distancing and giving people a glimpse at what sporting events might look like in the coming weeks.

“Being deprived of something for so long, you want it back,” Strohmeyer said. “It’s been great. It’s lived up to the moment, beautiful day, great baseball and it’s a tournament so we get to watch four games today, it’s been fantastic.”

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