For the first time in 64 years, the Dixie Youth World Series has been canceled. The decision was announced Tuesday after the National Board of Directors voted Monday night to cancel the 2020 World Series and its qualifying tournaments.
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WINTER HAVEN – Don't start whistling Dixie just yet.
For the first time in 64 years, the Dixie Youth World Series has been canceled. The “very hard decision” was derived late Monday night when the national board of directors voted to cancel the 2020 World Series and its qualifying tournaments.
“With all of the uncertainty and disruption that the COVID-19 virus has caused across our country we did not feel that attempting to play a World Series would be the prudent thing to do,” Dixie Youth Commissioner William Wade said in an email Tuesday.
But all is not lost -- yet.
Wade also noted canceling the Series could clear the way for local Dixie Youth play to commence without having to shorten the regular season, if given the green light by local governing authorities.
“Hopefully by removing the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series from our post-season schedule, the states and leagues that are cleared to begin activities can have substantial regular season play, which is the foundation of Dixie Youth Baseball,” stated Wade.
At least 1,250 kids play in Dixie Youth leagues across Polk County, which includes Mid-Florida, North Lakeland, Bartow, Fort Meade and Wahneta.
Mid-Florida is tentatively scheduled to host the Junior, Pre-Majors and Majors state tournaments July 10 at Poinciana Community Park. The league is still hoping to play on Tuesday nights and doubleheaders on Saturday if the county clears the parks to be open for league play by late May.
“I did get a confirmation that we will still play the state championships,” Mid-Florida president Victor Martinez said. “I spoke with the state director (Frank Hagler) and he said we will still hold those regardless of whether we have a World Series or not.
“Frank said we are going to stay the course so at least the kids will have a state championship, which will be a good thing. It is the best we can do with what is happening. I have kids sending me videos daily asking me if I am doing this or that right.”
Wahneta Dixie Youth President Maynard Gaitland, whose league is 175 players strong, is still looking forward to playing this summer, if possible.
“I am ready to play and all the kids are ready to get it,” Gaitland said. “All we need them to do is open the park up. We already bought uniforms and everything, and these kids are wanting to play.”
Last year, the Fort Meade 12U Ozone team won the Dixie Youth World Series in Lumberton, North Carolina. Eight of the 12 players on that team would have returned for a chance to defend their title if the Series was not canceled.
Bill Kemp can be reached at Bill.Kemp@theledger.com; follow him on Twitter @BilllKempSports.