Sports

Minor League Baseball cancels season, affecting Valley teams

Minor League Baseball announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2020 season because Major League Baseball will not provide the affiliated Minor League teams with players due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“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 and CEO 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.” 

This decision affects four teams in the Central Valley: the Fresno Grizzlies, the Visalia Rawhide, the Modesto Nuts and the Stockton Ports. 

Fresno Grizzlies President Derek Franks released a statement following the announcement: 

“While we have been preparing for this outcome over the past few months, today’s news of our season being canceled is, of course, devastating. We will thoroughly miss seeing all of our fans, partners and supporters this year at Chukchansi Park. 

“As I have talked to some of our fans over the past couple of weeks, hearing about the shared love of the game constantly reestablishes to me how important baseball is to our community and our country. The passion and joy that our crowd brings to every single home game is second to none. We truly have the best fans in Minor League Baseball and remain devoted to giving you the best experience in family fun and entertainment. 

“As an organization, we are already planning behind the scenes to give you the best celebration imaginable once this hibernation ends and we take the field again in 2021. Until then, stay safe, check in on one another and hold on to that Growlifornia feeling. No matter what, we are all one Underneath the Bear Flag. 

Coronavirus already struck hard for the Fresno Grizzlies, who missed rent payments owed to the City of Fresno – owner of Chukchansi Park – at the outset of the season.

The Visalia Rawhide recently underwent an ownership change to Sam Sigal and First Pitch Entertainment. Sigal and Company will not be able to field a team for their first season in Visalia. 

“On behalf of the entire Rawhide organization, we promise to begin work immediately to provide you with an exciting 2021 season,” said Sigal in a statement. “We are looking forward to more entertainment, more promotions and more fun, including a yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of Minor League Baseball in Visalia. We’ll honor our front-line heroes, recognize our essential workers and heal together – all while taking in our national pastime. 

“In the meantime, we’ll continue to focus on other ways we can provide fun and entertainment at Rawhide Ballpark. In collaboration with the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency, we have been able to provide venues for small gatherings for Father’s Day, family graduation pictures, batting practice and birthday parties. As the health guidelines change, we hope to provide other ways to share our facility, and our home, with you.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.