Dozens of kids stepped into the diamond and as the Junior Giants baseball program returned to the field for opening day Tuesday afternoon at the Tracy Sports Complex after last year’s season was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is offered through the Tracy Parks and Recreation Department along with the San Francisco Giants Community Fund.

Justin Geibig, the Junior Giants commissioner, said the free, non-competitive baseball and softball program is the “flagship program” of the fund, teaching skills and sportsmanship to boys and girls ages 5 to 13-years old.

“It really goes beyond baseball, really focusing on the fundamentals of the game and really focusing on the Junior Giants four bases of character, which are teamwork, leadership, integrity and confidence, as well as focusing on health, education and bullying prevention,” Geibig said.

The Giants Community Fund is a nonprofit that uses baseball and softball to promote health, education, and character development to help youth in underserved regions to be positive forces in their communities.

The fund is managed by a volunteer board of directors and sustained by contributions from individuals, businesses and foundations through a number of special partnerships and fundraisers.

Since it began in 1991 the Fund has donated over $34.5 million to community efforts.

The Junior Giants program has been active in Tracy for more than 15 years with about 200 kids taking part this year.

The season, normally set to start in early June, was delayed until after the official June 15 reopening of the California economy and relaxation of the health department COVID social distancing and capacity regulations.

The Junior Giants will run an abbreviated season because of the delay in starting up this year.

“We’re a little bit delayed in our season right now so to really make best of the season now —we’re just really excited to be back on the field and were really excited to see the kids coming back — coming back after a year off, we weren’t able to offer this program last year , so to really get the kids out there, really motivated we piloted a new skills clinic program.”

Tuesday’s opening day featured the first of a series of skills clinics for kids to work on their hitting, throwing catching and base running abilities.

“We’ll have plenty of stations on the field for the kids to really learn the fundamentals of baseball —focusing on the basics of throwing, catching , hitting — just really understanding the sport of baseball.” Geibig said.

Kids signing up for the program receive a hat, shirt and glove if they don’t have one of their own.

The season will run through Aug. 4 with different ages taking the field on different days.

Children 5 to 6-years-old will be on the field on Tuesdays 5:30 p.m., children in the major division that are 10 to 13-years old play Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. and 7 to 9 years old play on Wednesday.

Kids can still be registered for the program at www.gojrgiants.org.

• Contact the Tracy Press at tpnews@tracypress.com or 835-3030.

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