METUCHEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A massive high school baseball tournament got underway in New Jersey on Tuesday morning.
It was the brainchild of St. Joe’s Metuchen baseball coach Mike Murray as a response to the lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 222 high-school-aged teams on 57 fields throughout the state of New Jersey are competing for the crown.
There’s a trainer at every site as they adhere to safety protocols.
It was no easy endeavor, but Murray told CBS2’s Otis Livingston it was well worth it.
“With some of the obstacles and some of the headaches that when you’re thinking like, ah, this is a lot of work, this is going through it. When you hear a story about a kid that hasn’t thrown in two years because he was injured last year as a junior and thought he’d never get to see a mound again, those types of stories are always like, you know what, this was a really good idea,” Murray said. “A lot of these kids play club baseball on the weekends. This was an opportunity for closure with kind of their high school buddies around there, and the biggest thing for us was it just kind of got teams back moving, thinking baseball.”
The tournament gives kids another chance to get back on the field, which isn’t a guarantee next year.
“I’ve told a lot of people quite candidly, I don’t know what the fall and winter looks like, if this drags on, if we have a second wave, if we’re going back. So my fear was not getting an opportunity to do anything for 10-11 months, right? At least now we can hopefully do this safely this summer, let them have an experience, and then be prepared for whatever comes next,” Murray said.
Murray says the tournament gives the kids some sense of normalcy again.
“I think more than anything else, we just wanted it to feel normal and have kids back out on the feel. It looks different, there’s masks, there’s sanitizer, there’s different things, but it’s still kids playing baseball and having fun,” he said.