Long Beach Little League marks opening weekend as COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen

Long Beach Little League marked its opening weekend after a long year of restrictions due to COVID-19.

“Everyone’s so happy to be back,” Steve Klaus, board president of the league, said Sunday.

Though games had already started, Sunday’s ceremonies at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach included a guest appearance from the Long Beach Fire Department, which raised an American flag from a ladder truck for the National Anthem.

The city, county and state have loosened coronavirus restrictions over the past several weeks as cases of COVID-19 continue to decline.

Some restrictions still apply, Klaus said, such as requiring the coaches to wear masks and a condensed game schedule.

But otherwise: “When you’re in the game, it feels very normal,” he said.

Long Beach resident Alfonso Montes watched his 12-year-old’s game under a shaded area, cheering his son’s team on.

“We still gotta wear our masks here and there—that’s the annoying park for me—but it feels great,” he said.

Long Beach Little League has been around for 60 years.

A boy throws his cap in the air while lined up in a row with his teammates after the National Anthem before a Long Beach Little League game at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Colorful baseball bats lean against the fence inside a dugout while youth warm up for a game at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

A girl in the stands laughs with a woman during a Long Beach Little League game on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Players of the Toronto Blue Jays team in the Long Beach Little League exit the dugout for a game at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday; April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Diego Hernandez watches a Long Beach Little League game from an aerial view inside the box at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Charlie Thompson prepares to catch a ball while an opponent player, Finn Reyburn, slides toward a base during a Long Beach Little League game on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Women watch a Long Beach Little League game at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Officials watch Long Beach Little League players during warm-up as they practice before a game at Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach on Sunday, April 18, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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