The Minor League Baseball season was officially canceled on Tuesday, bringing an end to months of speculation about the feasibility of holding games in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball owners and players only agreed last week to a 60-game schedule, an arrangement that ensures that at least some baseball will be played this year. Following that announcement, however, MLB informed Minor League Baseball that it would not provide its affiliated teams with players for this season, forcing the cancellation of the season.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner in a news release. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."
The Danville Braves released a five-sentence statement on Tuesday acknowledging the cancellation.
The statement read, in part: “The Danville Braves staff will immediately begin reaching out to our stakeholders with information on how the cancellation impacts their account(s). Fans with additional questions may email email@example.com, where questions will be directed to the appropriate department. The Danville Braves thank its fans in advance for their patience as they work through this process and our thoughts continue to be with those affected by this pandemic."
This will be the first time since 1956 that no Appalachian League season will be held. This also would have been Danville’s 27th season at American Legion Field.
The Appalachian League’s statement regarding the cancellation read, in part: “The health and safety of the Appalachian League fans, players and staff members is our top priority. This year has been a challenge for so many people around the world, but we assure you we are steadfast in our commitment to our cities. We are counting down the days for us to finally be able to welcome all of you into our stadiums.”
The optimistic tone of the Appalachian League’s statement aside, there is still very little certainty regarding the future of the 10 teams that make up the league.
It was reported in late 2019 that MLB was proposing significant cuts to the minor league system following this season — a proposal that included stripping all 10 Appalachian League teams of their Major League affiliations.
The 2020 season could have been, in essence, a farewell campaign for those teams, but the pandemic prevented that from becoming a reality.
Parker Cotton is a sports reporter at the Martinsville Bulletin and Danville Register & Bee. You can reach him at (276) 638-8801 ext. 215. Follow @ByParkerCotton.
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