March and April 2023 have been strange. In fact, we could have our very own episode of Stranger Things at Veterans Memorial Park. We’ve seen spring weather then summer weather and then winter weather only to go full circle back to spring weather. The only constant this spring has been precipitation, and lots of it. That’s come with untimely and unpopular — yet necessary — field closings for both player safety and field upkeep. So today was more of the same at 7:30 a.m. It was looking like another wet Spring day and a ruined opportunity to take the field for games until the weather forecasts all proved to be wrong and summer reappeared.
I may be biased, but I truly believe OYO is an amazing league. Dozens of volunteers work so hard to make everything possible for each and every one of you — our players, our fans, our coaches, our umpires, our concession workers and our community. I am so lucky to be part of an organization like ours — and I believe many of you share those sentiments, too. So, when we find the fields in very soft conditions after working hard all week to try to make them playable — and ask our coaches to dedicate extra time after practices to properly rake the fields — it is most definitely discouraging for all of us.
Last night around 10 p.m., I personally walked a few fields and understood the challenges that would await today. Then at 7:30 a.m. today, members of the OYO Board walked the fields again. We sank in the muddy conditions. We reviewed multiple weather forecasts. We consulted with several board members closely associated with both team oversight and field maintenance. With all the information in hand, we made a calculated decision on the games we felt would be right. I accepted the recommendation. Then, the unpredictable happened, again … Indiana weather. It exceeded expectations and deviated from prior forecasts. Ballplayers, coaches and fans were unhappy and shared their disappointment.
This league is nearly 950 players strong from 650+ families. OYO is an amazing place that delivers an awesome experience. It has been since I started coaching in 2001, since I joined the board in 2003, became an executive board member in 2006 and continued to volunteer to help make OYO a wonderful place for your ballplayers, families and fans ever since. Each and every day, the OYO Board is tasked with many decisions and some of those are real-time, instantaneous situations needing resolution. Today, is absolutely one of those. The board was deliberate in their actions and resources.
Then, I screwed up. While the 9 a.m. games were definitely out of the question after reviewing the fields as the sun was rising, I did not pause to consider the impact of the unexpected — better weather and faster recovery of the fields. The cancellation seemed logical at 7:30 a.m., and then seemed unfair and impractical by noon. And based on my email and text messages, my heart sunk in disappointment because we have so many players, so many coaches, so many fans, so many teams who just want the chance to play ball. As much as this decision hurts me, I understand it hurts our OYO families even more.
While we don’t hold a crystal ball and can’t predict the future, there are three commitments I will personally make here and now to all OYO families. Please note, not a single one of them is any promise for better weather as that is just not within the league’s control.
- I’M SORRY | I know there are ballplayers who proudly sport their OYO jersey any chance they get and now are disappointed they could not play today. And while playing all games never would have been feasible, I wish we could have accommodated even 50-75% of all the teams. Of course, we can’t control the weather, yet on behalf of all of OYO, please accept my apologies for today’s cancellations.
- LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO PLAY | While we will never risk a player’s safety or cause significant damage to fields, I encourage the board to be more patient, flexible and creative in how we respond to weather and field conditions to maximize game opportunities for as many teams as possible.
- POSSIBLE ONE-TIME SUSPENSION OF RAINOUT POLICY | The OYO Rainout Policy has served all of us well since 2008. However, we understand this spring’s weather has been miserable all too often. The board is exploring a one-time exception to the policy to reschedule the games from today to a future Friday (May 5, 12, 19, 26), a possible future Saturday doubleheader or a weeknight game in early June. Please note, no existing commitments to our Junior Baseball or 14U/16U Softball teams will be compromised and our previously announced dates for the rec league tournament/end-of-season events will not be altered. And, if there are future cancellations on game days, those games will NOT be rescheduled (except for rec league tournament games in June, of course).
What seemed like the most logical and sensible decision 10 hours ago has clearly caused lots of disappointment in the hearts and minds of our young hardworking, resilient and deserving ballplayers. You and your ballplayer are a blessing to all of us at OYO. With so many positives all around OYO in 2023, we ask for your understanding. And please know after today, your message and feedback has been heard. I understand. And, I promise to do better.
With much appreciation and gratitude!
P.S. Please look for an update about the possibility of rescheduled game(s) from today only (Saturday, April 29), early next week.