BILLINGS — Tryouts for the Billings American Legion Baseball program’s five teams were held this fall, a switch from the traditional March dates.

As a result, players in the program that weren’t involved in other activities such as basketball had been participating in indoor workouts at Triple Play Academy.

However, like a majority of sports teams, the Class AA Royals and Scarlets, and Class A Blue Jays and Cardinals, and Class B Post 4 team are now shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The stoppage is part of a nationwide effort to practice social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus).

“Right now, we are suspending all activities, practice and everything else, for at least two weeks,” BALB chairman Jeff Ballard told 406mtsports.com in a phone interview.

“We want to be responsible citizens as well. We are doing social distancing at the school level and other aspects of our community with restaurants and bars. With youth sports, we need to follow that same course of action. It is important we maintain that, and not having any group activities so we aren’t responsible for increasing the spread of the virus. We are doing our best to fight it.”

BALB will also be postponing its Hall of Fame Induction and Fundraising Event scheduled for the Billings Hotel and Convention Center on April 25. The move is a safety precaution.

The BALB HOF banquet shift is the second involving a HOF induction this week. The Montana Football Hall of Fame also announced this week it is changing its banquet date from March 28 to June 20 at the Billings Hotel.

A new date has not been chosen yet for the BALB banquet. Those with questions on tickets can visit billingsalbaseball.org for contact information.

Six former Billings Legion players are to be inducted. They are Aaron Leavitt, the late Bill McIntosh and Randy Walter, all of whom played for the Royals; and former Scarlets Brandon Page, Jeff Uhren, and Tim Benjamin.

Scheels will be presented the Dave McNally Friend of American Legion Baseball award.

“We are still planning on having the hall of fame banquet and honoring our inductees this year,” Ballard said. “We are just hoping we can find a date that makes sense with what we assume will be a busy baseball time this summer. We will let everyone know when we know.”

Ballard said the Cardinals are scheduled to play their first game April 19 and the Scarlets, Royals and Blue Jays were to open their seasons shortly after. However, that schedule could be altered depending on factors such as updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the national American Legion Baseball office.

“Right now, we haven’t officially canceled any games,” Ballard said. “We are not practicing and we are taking an extended period of time off. I don’t know if you come back and start playing games right away.”

Baseball in Billings has even been affected at the Little League level, Ballard added.

Ballard, a coach at the 11-12 majors level in the Boulder-Arrowhead league, said B-A has suspended activity until April 6.

Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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