BRYAN, TX — As the world of professional sports is working to figure out the best course on returning to the game during a global pandemic, collegiate baseball players have made their way to the Brazos Valley to participate in the collegiate summer baseball invitational.
The Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational will be the first live baseball played in the U.S. since sports shut down in March due to the spread of the coronavirus. Tournament officials hope it will set a blueprint for how sports can safely be played.
College baseball players from around the country arrived in Bryan Monday, and they all have one thing on the mind.
"I’ve been sitting at home for so long I just wanted to come play baseball,” said Pitcher Luke Taggart.
The coronavirus pandemic brought all sports to a complete stop. Spring sporting events were canceled, but now, tournament organizers are giving athletes the chance to compete and enjoy some accomplishments.
“Finish their college baseball season because many of these guys, this may be their last season. Some of them are trying to move up to the big leagues, get drafted next week in the MLB draft," explained Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational organizer Uri Geva.
While planning the return of this team sport, organizers did so in a county that's been seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. However, tournament organizers say they are going to great lengths to protect the players and the community.
"As long as we kept them in this so called "Bryan bubble," it would be able to happen in a safe and sound way for them,” said Geva.
Since Monday, players, coaches, and tournament staff have all been tested for the virus. All will quarantine at a local hotel and follow COVID-19 protocol, something the Brazos County Health District is applauding.
"They should be commended for the diligence in doing this. I have been in touch with the organizers of this invitational," said Brazos County Alternate Health Authority Dr. Seth Sullivan.
The sports world's eyes will be on Travis Field for the next three days. It comes at time when everyone could use a little bit of America's past time.
"Baseball united us when Jackie Robinson was the first player to integrate. Baseball united us after 9/11. Baseball is America’s pastime,” said Geva.
The first pitch will be thrown out Thursday, June 5th at Travis Field with completely empty stands.
The first two games will be broadcast on ESPN 2. First pitch at 6 p.m. and the second game starting at 9 p.m. The tournament will also be available via livestream.
Game times for June 6th and 7th are at 5pm and 8pm central time.