Thanks to COVID-19, spring sports athletes never got a chance to celebrate Senior Night. Keith Fisher, the public address announcer for Crystal River High baseball, wanted to change that for at least a few of them.
On Sunday, June 28, 2020, Crimson Baseball, a Citrus County-based travel ball organization helmed by Fisher and his wife Keni, will put on Black and Red Senior Night, hosted by Dunnellon Little League.
"We have a lot of kids throughout Florida that we coach," Fisher said. "A lot of kids we still talk to. They’re missing out on the rest of their senior year; prom, finishing the rest of baseball season and even Senior Night. To get that little bit of recognition is one of the things guys always look forward to.
"Anything like that we could put together, we’re going to try to do. That’s what it’s about, giving them a little bit of something they missed out on."
The Black and Red Senior Night will bring together Class of 2020 players from across eight area schools. A total of 24 players are set to participate, divided into two teams based on positional and pitching needs in order to maintain competitive balance.
Among those expected to take the field are Jon Baer, Anthony Cairone, Mark Crawford, Kamron Fisher, Alden Hudak, Jaden Pearson and Tyler Richardson from Crystal River; Jarred Daigle and Mikey Gatto from Citrus; and Derrick Batson, Jakob Brace, Daniel Saydoff and Jesse Thomas III from Lecanto.
"Everything they’d get at a Senor Night game in high school they’ll get with us," Keith Fisher said.
There will, however, be a difference in the format from a typical prep contest. This will be a 9-inning game, rather than seven, and there will be continuous batting so that all 12 players on each team are assured a few turns at the plate.
The event kicks off at 4 p.m. with a pregame ceremony mimicking Senior Night festivities, in which seniors will be escorted on to the field by their parents and introduced individually.
Admission to the game will be $4 (free for those under age 5). There will be food, music and a bounce house. There will also be safety measures based on travel ball health guidelines provided in response to the pandemic.
Temperature checks will be performed and hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance. No coolers are allowed in the dugout, so players must bring their own drinks, and sharing equipment is prohibited. Extra seating will be set up around the park in an effort to space out spectators.
"If we have fans who don’t feel well that day, sit at home and watch it because we’re going to live stream it," Keith Fisher said.
The link for the live stream will be posted on the Crimson Baseball page on Facebook.
"The only thing we want to take away from this is to make sure they didn’t miss out," Keith Fisher said. "We’ve all seen these kids grow up. We want to make sure they know that we’re proud of everything they’ve done. We want them to know we still care and we want to put this on for them."