It feels good to be doing stuff like this: Residents flock to baseball diamonds, golf courses, farmers markets – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Youth baseball clubs managed to do something that Major League Baseball has yet to do: start the season. 

On Saturday at the Rock Sports Complex in Franklin, youth baseball clubs from Wisconsin and Illinois brushed off the rust and took the field, with certain guidelines in place to decrease the chances of contracting the coronavirus.  

Around Milwaukee County businesses and other public spaces began to reopen and residents and visitors were willing to take the risk to get outside, while being cautious. 

At the Rock Sports Complex, which also started a drive-in movie theater this past week, teams were required to sanitize their bench and equipment before and after each game.  

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There was one umpire per field standing 6 or more feet behind the pitcher in the infield.  

Coaches and players were encouraged to wear a face mask — the majority did not — and not give high-fives.  

Players were also asked to refrain from sharing water bottles or equipment. If a piece of equipment needed to be shared, coaches were encouraged to sanitize it first.  

There was also a limit of two spectators per player.  

Spectators were encouraged to wear masks, although most did not. Spectators were asked to maintain a physical distance of about 6 feet apart and most kept some distance between themselves and others, however, several people stood or sat closer than 6 feet.  

“I thought they communicated it pretty clearly and are doing their best to protect the kids,” Wauwatosa resident Jody Lowe said. “It feels good to be doing stuff like this.”

Lowe was at the game with her husband, Chris, and watched their son, Luke, who plays for the 6 Tool Baseball club.  

“We don’t think it’s going to be back to normal,” Lowe said. “We’re going to need to be operating under different rules.” 

Lowe said she felt comfortable watching her son playing baseball because it was outdoors. However, she was going to make sure he used hand sanitizer in the car, have him take a shower and wash his clothes.  

Franklin resident Mel Hynek was happy to watch his grandson play center field for the 6 Tool Baseball club. 

“People you see are spreading out, the only close ones are the families,” Hynek said. “I think people are pretty conscientious of respecting other people and doing things they were told we should do.” 

Hynek said there was hand sanitizer available at the table near the entrance of the ballpark for those who felt they needed it. 

“People are going to learn how to adjust to the current situation,” Hynek said. “I think it’s going to get better.” 

‘No one really follows the rules’

While most people were happy to be outside enjoying the weather and watching their kids play, some people had their reservations about the experience.  

Michelle Lawrenz of Mundelein, Illinois, checked her and her son’s temperatures before making the trip north. 

“Are we putting ourselves at risk for baseball? That’s a real question,” Lawrenz said. “I hope not.” 

Lawrenz said it felt good to watch baseball and forget about the pandemic, but that was just for a moment.  

“It’s great to see the kids doing what they love, but as parents we’re worried,” Lawrenz said. “Coaches have been great as far as communication. We just have to hope that our kids can play and have fun and we can get back to normal as best as we can.” 

Tina Engel of Gurnee, Illinois, said if people obeyed the rules, people could remain healthy. Bt she saw people in close groups.  

“This is kind of what I was afraid of, people huddling together,” Engel said. “When you read the rules, you think ‘Why can’t it work?’ But then no one really follows the rules.” 

Ketan Patel, a pharmacist in McHenry, Illinois, and his wife Asha, who was one of the few people wearing a mask, said they were glad to be outside watching their son, but were also cautious. 

“I’ve seen a lot of COVID cases in my pharmacy, like a lot, and no one has died yet,” Patel said. “And no (positive cases) have been out for more than 15 days.” 

Patel said they have been very careful with their son and felt people could be safe while being outside.  

“Just be careful, don’t be stupid,” Patel said. “Don’t be talking to people right in front of them.” 

People still hesitant to sit down at a bar or restaurant

Perhaps due to the lukewarm and foggy weather Saturday afternoon, some of the Milwaukee area’s most popular outdoor spots avoided crowding. And nearly a dozen people interviewed by the Journal Sentinel said those excursions would be about it for them for the weekend.

There were no plans to head to the suburbs to sit down at a restaurant or bar, they said.

Along the lakefront, nobody was seen wearing a mask as people jogged on by or sat by the water. The walkways and beaches were far from crowded.

A trio of old alumni from Pius IX High School were seen gathering around a park bench a ways away from the other passersby. Connie Januzzi, 69, said they planned on keeping it that way.

“What we won’t be doing is going anywhere where anyone else is,” she said.

That sentiment was expressed repeatedly Saturday. Andy LaFleur, 26, and Charlie Shanaver, 25, brought their new dog, Neema, to the newly reopened Roverwest Dog Park in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. It was sparsely attended Saturday. They came wearing masks and said they were fine with humans and dogs alike interacting with Neema, since she had a bath coming immediately afterward.

What they were not OK with was stepping inside a restaurant or bar anytime soon.

“We’re still going to do takeout,” LaFleur said.

Meanwhile, the outdoor Bayshore shopping area bordered on ghost town status Saturday.

The mall has recently struggled with vacancies as a redevelopment project kicked into gear over the winter. And on Saturday, the area remained quiet as some of the mall’s biggest names — Cheesecake Factory, Barnes & Noble and the Apple Store — still kept their doors closed to the public.

Quiet as it may have been, masks were plentiful among those seen shopping and working at the mall Saturday.

But that wasn’t the case everywhere. Just a few blocks south of Bayshore, at Kopp’s, the popular frozen custard and burger joint, none of the workers seen behind the counter had masks on.

“I wasn’t crazy about nobody serving having a protective covering,” said Sue Leyer, 59, who stopped by for some custard with a mask handy. “It seemed like people were kind of close” as they waited in line to order.

She and others eating outside the restaurant said an establishment like Kopp’s, which does not have indoor seating, was about all they were willing to visit in person these days. Haley Olig, 23, compared it to the “in-and-out” nature of a grocery store and said it felt safe enough.

She didn’t think a bar or sit-down restaurant would be on her agenda soon.

“People don’t really respect your boundaries in a bar,” she said.

At Whitnall Golf Course, friends Brian Brieske, Scott Bayon and Kevin Lee got up early to make their 7 a.m. tee time.  

“I think I have probably got 17 or 18 rounds in in May,” Lee, of Oak Creek, said. 

The pandemic hasn’t stopped them from getting together and shooting 18 holes of golf. 

“Golfing has been the one thing to get out and get some relief from being sheltered in,” Brieske said. “We’ve all worked through it as well. We haven’t been laid off. For us (the pandemic) hasn’t really affected us at all.” 

They keep hand sanitizer in their bags and make sure not to touch anything other people may have touched.  

They would normally go out to a bar and have some drinks after golfing but hadn’t been able to do that until Saturday when they decided to go to a bar with an outdoor patio.  

“I’m not ready to go indoors,” Brieske said. “I personally will not go in a restaurant or a bar. I’d rather just sit outside.” 

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