AUBURNDALE, Fla. -- Baseball season is entering the seventh inning stretch in the City of Auburndale.
"This was a special season for us because it's out last season at these field, which is where youth baseball started in our city," Kim Fleeman, league co-president, said.
What You Need To Know
- Auburndale Little League finishing final season on Spivey Field
- Season was initially cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Players are back on the field, finishing the season in a 7th inning stretch
- More sports news
For more than five decades, Spivey field has been part of the fabric of the small Polk County community.
"I hate to see it go, I really do," said Jerome Cummings.
Cummings grew up on the fields, first as a player, then a coach, and now as a grandfather watching his seven-year-old grandson Luke.
"I play through his eyes most of the time, seeing him accomplish so much it's just awesome," Cummings said.
The town had big plans for the final season when it began in late February.
"Our theme this year was team, beacuse every year we pick a theme, so the theme was team because we look at our league as being a team," Fleeman said.
The pandemic halted the season almost as soon as it started. For months, Fleeman and her team hoped for a return to the field.
"We kept talking, what's going to happen, what are we gonna do," she said.
Governor Ron DeSantis' announcement set Fleeman's group of volunteers into action.
"At that time we knew that we really wanted to finish what we had started, we wanted to finish the season because it was such a special season," Fleeman said.
The community rallied, making two sets of jersey's for each of the 275 kids who came back to play, and with help from the city, health and safety guidelines were put into place for the leagues to restart.
"As you can see our park is really small, so we don’t have a lot of room to social distance with our parents, so we have, as you notice, all of the parents are outside the fence," Fleeman explained.
"Our bleachers are now are dugouts so the kids are out in the open air. We provided all of our coaches with a COVID packet, that had hand santizer, a sharpie to write names on drinks, when they share a bat, they have to wipe down and spray disinfectant that everything gets sprayed with after each game."
And just like that, the final season was back on.
"It’s been great to actually be able to get back out here and get them outside and playing with friends, and just honestly the whole experience has been a positive one getting them back out here," said parent Jennifer Hatley.
"After each game, the more and more they’re out here, the more excited they are, and I believe they truly appreciate being out here," Joe Peltier said.
By this time next year, new memories will begin to be made on new fields, but for now, this town is going to enjoy every inning it has left until the final out.
"As a volunteer, sometimes you wonder if all the effort that goes on behind the scenes is worth it, but when you come out and see the kids having fun, the kids just being kids, then you know it’s all worth it," Fleeman said.