Apr. 17—CUMBERLAND — Dapper Dan baseball is back in the city of Cumberland for this summer, as the Dapper Dan Club received approval from the city this week for the 2021 Little League baseball season to commence.
“We kind of got our hands forced that we had to shut down last year,” said Adam Sterne, athletic chairman for the Dapper Dan. “We were kind of in a bind. It was disheartening to cancel the season.
“The kids love summertime baseball, so to lose a season like that, you hate to have it happen. This year, we have more flexibility and more knowledge. We will have to follow COVID protocols. If there’s a lapse in it, we have to follow it. But just to have a season is exciting to tell the city and tell the kids that we’ll be back playing.”
The draft for the Major Division (kids age 10-12) will be held the week of April 26, with practice starting within a few days after.
“Playing restrictions in multiple leagues has been lifted for the 2021 season,” added Sterne. He noted that players in the Major Division will this year be allowed to play in multiple leagues, whereas in years past that was not the case.
The Minor Division and Coach Pitch drafts will be the following week, with Minor Division early in the week and Coach Pitch at the end of the week.
Sterne said the season will start and end slightly later than in years’ past, but with fewer teams in each division — as Dapper Dan anticipated for 2021 — it will take fewer weeks to complete the season.
“The kids having sports back is the big thing,” Sterne said. “Summertime is probably one of the toughest times during COVID because everyone wants to be outside as opposed to the winter when everyone is inside bundled up. This year, to move forward with the season, we really are happy to be able to offer baseball. The city has been great to work with. They’re implementing the same guidelines for field maintenance as prior to COVID. During COVID, they’d reduced the amount of maintenance, so we’re back to the original plan.
“We’re also working with the city for improvements to Long Field. So things are looking positive.”
The Major Division will start the season in the last week of May or first week of June, with the lower divisions starting in a staggered fashion in the weeks following, with Coach Pitch starting a week after the Minor Division and Tee Ball after Coach Pitch.
Sterne noted that the tee ball clinic that the Dapper Dan Club usually puts on may need to be altered due to COVID protocols, but the club fully plans to hold the clinic.
The playoff system is to be determined, he said, adding that the playoffs will be done prior to the last week in July.
“It’s going to be a rough year because of missing a year,” Sterne said. “I feel bad for the 12-year-olds who didn’t get the last year in Dapper Dan and are now going to Hot Stove and playing high school distances. But it trickles down through every age group. … We have a struggle right now where a lot of parents are hesitant to move their kid up a division, so it’s going to be a more trying time for the coaches. When you take a sport away from a kid for a year, it’s like riding a bike again.”
The deadline to register for this season is Friday. Registration can be done online at www.leaguelineup.com/dapperdan.
Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.