LIMA – It’s been nearly two years since we last saw the Lima Locos.
That was July 30, 2019, the night the Locos won the 2019 Great Lakes Collegiate League championship over Licking County at Simmons Field.
After the league took last year off because of CO-VID 19, the Locos are back.
The Locos return to Simmons Field at 7 p.m. on June 4 for opening night against Grand Lake in the GLCL.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently announced the co-vid restrictions will be lifted on June 2, just before the Locos’ opener.
That means there will be no crowd restrictions and no mask mandates.
The Reds and Indians have already said their ballparks will have no attendance limits starting June 2.
Locos general manager Tim Clark said people will be able to ease back at their own pace.
“The way we understand it, on June 2 there won’t be many restrictions,” Clark said. “But we also want to do things to make everyone comfortable. We’ll have hand-washing stations at the ballpark and will also have Locos’ face masks. We’ll find a way with social distancing in the
bleachers, if that’s what people want. We’ll do everything we can to make it safe.’’
The Locos are planning for the return of the full concession stand, with includes food on the outdoor grill and beer.
“We’ll try to put a rope up for some space around the concession stand,” Clark said.
The restrooms will also be open.
With no Locos baseball in 2020, Clark is expecting people to be anxious to return to Simmons Field.
“From our messages on Facebook, people are fired up and ready to go, as we are as a staff,” Clark said. “From the interaction on social media, they’re champing at the bit to get back to baseball.’’
The Locos are set with their housing for the players, who come from many different states.
Clark said with the vaccine and players being tested on a regular basis at their colleges, the club was able to find host families this season.
Head coach Matt Furuto, the coach of the 2019 league champion Locos, returns to the Locos.
He’ll be joined by his 2019 coaches Tom Erick and Sean Safko. Also joining the coaching staff is former Ottawa-Glandorf coach and Reds scout Stan Myers.
The roster originally had two players from the area, but Elida pitcher Brayden Lybarger, who has signed with
Michigan, is out for the summer after undergoing elbow surgery.
Shawnee grad outfielder Jake Hutchins (Wittenberg) is on the roster.
The Locos also have UNOH pitcher Casey Thomas.
None of the Locos from the 2019 team are on this year’s roster.
A total of 14 teams are in the GLCL this year, with eight in the North Division and six in the South Division.
Lima and Grand Lake are both in the North. Teams will only play teams in their division during the regular season.
New teams in the league this year are the Detroit Jet Box, the Ohio Marlins (at Circleville) and the Sandusky Ice Haulers, who return to the GLCL.
St. Clair (Ontario) is out and Southern Ohio (at Athens) has taken the year off because of co-vid.
The Locos have won six GLCL championships (1993, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019). Columbus, which is no longer in the league, has won the most GLCL titles with eight.
Overall, Clark said the Locos will try to make the experience as fan-friendly as possible.
“People can wear masks or not wear masks, the way we understand it now,” he said. We’ll have Locos’ masks if
they want. We’ll do the little things, like the hand-washing stations.
“We’re happy to be able to play home games at Simmons Field.’