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'Hard on our hearts:' COVID-19 claims another Pa. high school all-star sports showcase

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
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The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another Pennsylvania high school all-star showcase.

Thursday, the Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority announced the cancellation of the 2020 Big 26 Baseball Classic. HHSE is the organizer of the event.

The Pennsylvania-Maryland high school all-star baseball showcase was originally scheduled as a three-game series from July 23-26 at FNB Field in Harrisburg, home of the Class Double-A Senators. A number of York-Adams League players have competed in the event over the years. Last year, for instance, York Suburban infielder Spencer Butz and New Oxford outfielder Brevin Neveker were named to the 2019 Pennsylvania roster.

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The annual summer event, which started in 2012, features players entering their junior and senior years of high school.

Just more than a week ago, the 2020 Big 33 and East-West all-star football games, scheduled for Memorial Day weekend near Harrisburg, were also canceled.

Pennsylvania football coaches organization cancels Big 33, East-West all-star games

“Big 26 Baseball strives to give high school players, challenger participants and fans an exceptional and unique baseball experience each summer," said HHSE executive director Gregg Cook in a news release. "Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties before us, meeting those expectations and the high standards we hold for the event will not be possible. While the decision is hard on our hearts, it is made with the health and safety of everyone involved as our top priority.”

While the Big 26 competition is held in July, teams are formed through scouted tryouts in various locations throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland in May. Registration opened in early March before the outbreak. Any player who has registered for tryouts will automatically receive a full refund. Questions should be sent to office@big26.com.

The cancellation includes the annual Buddy Program, where special-needs children, teens and young adults are paired with Big 26 players for a picnic, modified game and other activities.

“We are all saddened that players and staff will be unable to share the field with the incredible special-needs athletes who touch our hearts each summer,” Cook said in the news release. “We know many of the challenger athletes stay in touch with players and we look forward to following their connections and friendships through social media and through future alumni gatherings. 

“We are hopeful that athletes will be able to enjoy the great game of baseball this summer. Sports have a healing quality that will be instrumental in bringing our families and communities together when the time is right."

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.