RABA vows to return this summer

The Petit de Grat Red Caps are seen here accepting the Richmond Amateur Baseball Association championship in 2019.

PETIT DE GRAT: Those in charge of the Richmond Amateur Baseball Association (RABA) want to return to play this summer.

The executive of the RABA, and all team representatives held another meeting on June 30 in Petit de Grat.

RABA president Gary David said the league is hoping to start games by July 23-25, if COVID-19 cases go down and public health restrictions are loosened.

“We’re looking still at having a season, we’re just as determined as before, the only thing is we’ve pushed back the start of the season from the first of July, to hopefully, the last week in July but more probable the first the week in August,” he told The Reporter.

Each team will play two exhibition games and 12 regular season games, David said, and league play will extend into September, with a year-end weekend tournament to decide the league champions.

“What we’d like to do is get most of those games done in August, if at all possible, and come September, maybe look at just weekend play, because we’re going to be restricted by light at that time of the year, plus we have kids gone to university,” David noted. “If we restrict them to the weekend, we’ll be able to get our play-offs in, and I’m sure, the kids will come down for that one weekend.”

During a meeting on March 28, it was decided that St. Peter’s, Port Hawkesbury, Petit de Grat, Little Anse, and Isle Madame will make up the 2021 edition of the league.

Before the decision was made not to play games last year, Inverness made the decision to leave the league, and did not provide any intention to be reinstated this year. In the case of St. Peter’s, they also asked to take a leave from the RABA in 2020, but attended the March meeting and were reinstated.

“Teams feel very comfortable with being able to field a team,” the RABA president confirmed.

Back in March, David said new rules could include having umpires stationed behind the mound, instead of behind the catcher, no seating inside dug-outs, but instead having teams in the stands, and limits on the number of people who can attend games.

“We will follow whatever guidelines are set forth by the province and Baseball Nova Scotia,” he stated.

In the meantime, renovations are planned for the Petit de Grat ballfield, which the Petit de Grat, Little Anse and Isle Madame teams all call home. This work includes constructing French drains, making a new home plate area and work to the pitcher’s mound, with an expected completion date of early June.

“The (volunteers are) hoping to get back on the field as soon as outdoor numbers change,” David said. “They go to the field individually… but they go at opposite times. They try to abide by the rules of the province.”

David said the RABA received an application from a team from the Sydney area to join the circuit, but that had to be put on hold.

“We just can’t see ourselves being able to find the time to bring in another team, it would just be way too much for us to be able to schedule in another team,” he said. “We will revisit that at the AGM at the end of the year. It gives them plenty of opportunity to make an application.”

Last year, the RABA planned to hold ceremonies commemorating its 50th anniversary of the league, but those were put on hold due public health restrictions.

David said the league decided to hold-off until next year to honour that milestone. This will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Petit de Grat team, and the 50th anniversary of teams from Little Anse, David said.

In addition to supporting the application to have Barry Marchand enshrined into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, the RABA wants to honour him this year as well, after speaking with his family.

“Hopefully, we’ll be looking at recognizing Barry during the season,” David added. “We’re definitely backing Barry’s candidacy into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.”