, Newburyport, MA


April 9, 2014

Muddy fields creating a nightmare for spring sports


“It’s definitely worse [than normal], honestly. The only thing we can really do is laugh it off,” said Pentucket athletic director Dan Thornton. “We have a saying going around here in New England that if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, but for us it’s been wait a few weeks. It’s the longest we’ve ever been inside. Our baseball team hasn’t even been on the field yet.”

Until the fields begin to dry up, it’s going to be difficult to predict which games on the schedule will take place and which ones will get moved. League organizers hope things will start to stabilize soon, because while rescheduling a game may not sound too onerous, it’s actually a lot more time-consuming than it looks.

When a game is postponed, the coaches, athletic directors and league commissioners not only have to notify the players, but they also have to get in touch with the officials and bus drivers too to make sure everyone is on the same page. With dozens of teams across the region, those calls often add up quickly.

“Whenever I have a rainy day like today, I lose usually 100 percent of my games, and that can be anywhere from 20 to 60 games involving 40 to 100 officials,” said Jim McKeever, who is the commissioner of baseball for the Cape Ann League and the Northeastern Conference. “Back in the old days that could mean 200 or more phone calls. With the Internet it makes it a little more bearable, but it’s still a lot.”

McKeever added that the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams all need to be taken into consideration when making scheduling changes. Each of those games will usually feature a handful of officials and transportation for each team, so when a game is canceled, all of them need to be contacted and informed of the change in schedule.

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