YAKIMA, Wash. — As the Yakima Valley Pippins continue to prepare for a shortened 2020 season amid uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, team officials are turning their attention to a vital operations element each year: securing host families for incoming players.
“We’ve had an excellent base group of families who welcome strangers into their homes at the start of each season, and by the end of the summer those strangers are extended family members for years to come,” Pippins general manager Jeff Garretson said.
With so many moving parts this year caused by the pandemic — and scenarios that change weekly if not daily — having enough beds for players is a front-and-center concern this year, Garretson added.
“Ironically, we may see the best overall talent level among the teams playing than we have before,” he said. “We currently have about 35 players on the roster, which is more than usual, and now we need to house them.”
Garretson added that the team and other West Coast League teams are developing protocols that would help keep players and host families as safe as possible during the pandemic.
Garretson estimates the team needs about 10 to 12 more beds for this summer at this point. Because the season will be shorter than usual this summer, Garretson hopes families who haven’t hosted before because of the time commitment might try it this year.
“Without our great hosts, we wouldn’t be able to operate. It’s as simple as that.”
Families interested in hosting a player can apply here.
Host families provide free room and board during the West Coast League season, a family environment to help players adjust to a new community away from their own families, and, in some cases, transportation to and from the ballpark. This summer, Garretson expects players to begin arriving in early July and leave about the middle of August.
In return, host families receive a Stadium View season ticket for each member of the immediate household, a full-season parking pass, 20 percent off team merchandise during the season, a souvenir team hat for each member of the immediate household and a limited number of ballpark concessions vouchers.
For more information about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 509-575-4487.