Ballparks of America is gearing up for baseball in the Ozarks.
Although they were scheduled to start their tournament season earlier in the year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of their season was moved to Friday, May 22 as they host the 2020 Memorial Day Classic through Monday, May 25.
Ballparks of America recently announced the hiring of their new general manager, retired professional baseball player Scott Bailes.
“It’s an honor to represent the Ballparks of America,” said Bailes in a phone interview.
“It’s one of the most unique youth baseball facilities in the world, so to be able to be the leader of it is an honor. I can’t thank the new ownership group enough for giving me the chance.”
Bailes discussed his new position and all the great things that come with Ballparks of America being located in Branson.
“As the General Manager, and as a parent myself, I just can’t imagine a destination for little league teams to go to with more options for entertainment than Branson, Missouri,” said Bailes. “I mean, it’s just such a destination, and to be able to play baseball there and the rest of the family, and Mom and Dad and siblings can go to The Landing and Silver Dollar City and White Water as soon as all that stuff gets open, and all the shows in Branson for families.
“I think that’s what sets us apart more than anything. It’s just what you get (in addition to) the ballpark, which the ballpark itself is a destination just because of the turf fields and its unique setting at the Red Roof Outlet Mall. For me it’s just so many good things, it’s what really made me want to take this job on.”
According to Bailes, Ballparks of America is putting a lot of focus on making sure that their visitors, players and staff remain safe during the current pandemic so they can continue to enjoy what they love, baseball.
“What we’re training our staff on currently are COVID-19 recommendations from Taney County and the national CDC,” said Bailes. “Moving forward, as of right now, no teams are allowed to stay on campus in the dorms. Which that’s part of the ambiance of Ballparks of America teams, being able to stay as a group in really cool dorms with lockers. That’s part of the experience that we offer, but we just can’t at this point. We hope to at some point this summer, but that will be when the county and the state deems it safe.
“We even have to (follow recommendations) with foul balls. To return them to the game, we have to sanitize the foul ball. It’s pretty extreme what we have to do protocol for COVID-19, but to have baseball, it’s worth it.”
Baseball is scheduled to continue being played at Ballparks of America until at least Sept. 7. Tournament schedules can be found on their website at ballparksofamerica.com.