Community Stories

Just get playing!

July 02, 2020

Blair Hanna of the Red Deer Legends is definitely ready for the start of baseball.

Blair Hanna of the Red Deer Legends is definitely ready for the start of baseball. His team plays in the Red Deer Twilight Baseball League at Great Chief Park. The Legends have been playing together for 20 years without much of an off-season; utilizing local batting cages and travelling to warmer climates when the weather forces an end to the season here.

As the oldest team in the Twilight league, with an average age on the Legends between 67 and 68 years young, it’s no surprise the team has embraced the no-down-time mindset.

“We know that we have to keep playing, otherwise, how do you say it, our skills are already getting older. We need to keep them as sharp as we can,” Blair says with a chuckle.

So when COVID struck, closing batting cages and the border, these athletes relied on nice weather to keep their bodies in baseball shape and hope that they would get a chance to play the game this season.

“Two months ago basically baseball was shut down. And now that it’s coming back on short notice, we sort of lost a few people.”

The Twilight League normally plays with 10 teams, this year they have eight. Two teams couldn’t secure enough players for this modified season.

“We’re going to try to get this going and we hope that our central health zone doesn’t have to shut down again because of an increase overall in our population in Central Alberta. It’s a matter of us following the rules and guidelines right now and seeing if things can improve.”

The introduction of COVID has brought some new rules and guidelines to the game of baseball. The modifications start in the parking lot where players will visit the COVID Waiver Table, ensuring all are symptom free. Other notable changes will see the batter, catcher and umpire wearing masks when necessary, physically distant line ups, frequent hand and ball sanitizing and, for the Legends, will also include a conversation with the opposing team about plays at first base.

“Our first baseman might be 75 years old,” says Blair. “We’re basically going to tell the team that we’re playing that night that we’re going to step back away from first base, and if you want to steal, just don’t start until the pitcher has delivered the ball. A little bit of cooperation with teams in our league - they’ve always accommodated ‘the old guys’ as they call us.”

These measures don’t seem to bother Blair much, he says he’s willing to do anything to “Just get playing! If people not only in Alberta but across Canada work hard and get rid of this virus, we can back to playing ball again.”

Very wise words, Blair.