ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons on Tuesday after Major League Baseball decided not to provide any players to its affiliated teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, made the long-expected announcement. The Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and the minors expires after this season, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.
MLB already had told clubs to retain expanded 60-player pools, of which 30 players can be active during the first two weeks of the season starting in late July.
“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,” National Association president Pat O’Conner. “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 Greenville Drive released a statement regarding the cancellation of the season.
“The Greenville Drive are devastated by today’s unprecedented announcement,” stated Drive Owner and President Craig Brown. “Our staff has been hard at work for many months preparing for the Drive’s 15th Anniversary Season in Downtown Greenville at Fluor Field. In partnership with leading Business and Community Partners, we had several significant new events planned that would have been highly complementary to our popular and much anticipated annual events such as our Reading All-Stars Celebrations, Healthcare Career Night, Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering Night, Green Day, Drive Business Downtown and many more.”
Brown continued, “I’m very disappointed for our fans and the entire Community as the summer will not be the same in Downtown Greenville without Drive baseball to enjoy. And I’m also disappointed that the dedication and hard work put in by our staff will now have to wait until 2021 to see its full impact. Nonetheless and despite this devasting news which impacts us on so many levels you can be sure that the Drive will remain as committed as ever investing in the economic health and vitality of our region and insuring the Upstate remains a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”
Drive General Manager Eric Jarinko added, “Since 2006, Fluor Field at the West End has become the ‘Front Porch of the Community’. We were extremely excited to celebrate our 15th Anniversary Season in 2020. While we are disappointed that we’ll all have to wait until 2021 to officially celebrate this milestone season, the most important consideration is the safety and well-being of our fans.”