The London Majors are not about to let COVID-19 steal their home ballpark's world record.
And though the Majors Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) season remains cancelled due to the pandemic, the Majors will take the field Friday in a special exhibition game against the Guelph Royals.
The main purpose of the game is to preserve Labatt Memorial Park's record as the world's longest continuously operating baseball grounds, which is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
The park in downtown London has hosted baseball games in one form or another since 1877. Majors manager and co-owner Roop Chanderdat says the game took a great deal of effort and planning, but says preserving the park's 144-year streak will be well worth the effort.
"You know what, we knew we had to maintain the historic nature of Labatt Park," Chanderdat told CBC News Tuesday. "It's the oldest active grounds in the world, we don't want to give anyone any reason to question that."
Chanderdat praised the city and the Royals for working hard to make the game happen.
No fans but there will be a broadcast
Unfortunately, fans won't be able to attend in person but the game will be broadcast on Rogers television and on the Majors YouTube channel. Members of the public won't be allowed in to ensure safe physical distancing but a limit of about 100 family members and staff will be allowed to watch in person.
While the fans will be missed, the IBL took steps to ensure all the essential ingredients of a legitimate game will be in place on Friday, including umpires, a broadcast team calling the game and a ceremonial first pitch.
Chanderdat said he's missed Majors fans, but hopes the game will offer some good news in what has been a sombre summer for local baseball fans.
"I miss the interaction with the fans," he said. "We've got a great following and I'm hoping this will give them a way to enjoy a game so they can feel like they're there with us."
First pitch is at 7:35 p.m.