ROCK SPRINGS — The Archie Hay Post 24 Wyoming American Legion Sand Puppies AA baseball team has received the green light to have a 2020 season this summer.
According to Rocky Rondinelli, the Sand Puppies head coach, the national organization decided to cancel its season altogether a few months ago.
However, earlier this month, Wyoming State Chairman Cody Beers got the approval from the state commander and state adjutant to run the season through the state level, rather than the national level.
“Not much has changed. Our teams are still practicing. We are just completely separated from our national organization this season. We are ‘Wyoming American Legion Baseball’ for this year,” Beers told WyoPreps.
What this means is that Wyoming can still have a season, but it will do so under the banner of “Wyoming American Legion Baseball” and not be tied to the national organization.
According to Rondinelli, though there will be a season, there are still guidelines in place to help keep the players, coaches, and everyone else who is involved as safe and as healthy as possible.
Some of those guidelines include wiping down and sanitizing all equipment, player having their own bat and batting helmet, staying 6 feet or more apart whenever possible, and no one staying in the dugout, he said.
According to Rondinelli, all three Sand Puppies groups (AA, B, C) began practicing on Monday, May 11, and at the time were only allowed to have up to nine people at each session. That included seven players, plus the addition of the two coaches.
“One group would practice for about an hour, and 30 minutes later, the next group of seven would arrive,” he said.
During the 30 minutes between each practice session, all of the equipment would be cleaned and sanitized all over again.
Rondinelli added that it wasn’t until Friday, May 15, when Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon eased up on the restriction of total number of people allowed in one session and bumped the total to 25 people.
Later that day, following the new ruling, Rondinelli said his AA group held its first full-team practice. A few days later, on Monday, May 18, the B and C Sand Puppies teams held their first full-team practices.
According to Rondinelli, all three teams have a total of 14 kids on the roster and before they were allowed to play, each player, including their parents, had to sign a no harm waiver.
To make the season possible, Rondinelli also added that the team had to buy new insurance, one through the state, because the old one was through the national organization.
“Now that we have been given the green light, we are all excited to get going,” he said. “This season is definitely going to be different ... I’m just grateful to have one at all.”