We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Sports as we know it are canceling and changing. Who is going to save us from a summer without baseball?
Look no further than the lowest levels of independent baseball… the Pecos and Empire Leagues.
You may be wondering how these two leagues, that I just classified as the “lowest levels” of indy ball will be able to continue playing when even major league baseball is having difficulty figuring out their game plan.
It’s simple really… the Pecos League and Empire League were both built for this… Barely (or not at all) paying players and playing in front of minimal crowds is what they are infamous for.
Prospective players pay hundreds of dollars to play in these leagues when they attend training camps and tryouts in the spring. Every year, this is where a substantial amount of revenue for the leagues is made.
It’s also where a good amount of the labor comes from as well. The fields these leagues play on aren’t state-of-the-art facilities that require a grounds crew and workers to maintain. Most teams use their own players to take care of field and ballpark maintenance.
As for playing in front of no crowds with no gate revenue, during a “normal” season, crowds usually range in the very low hundreds if that. It won’t be too much of a change overall.
Don’t get me wrong, I along with many Americans, will be very happy to still have baseball to follow. I will watch and support the players. I hope that they will be able to have the recognition that they deserve for grinding through some of the roughest conditions in baseball, especially with the current world situation going on all around us.
Here are the official statements from the Pecos League and Empire League about their seasons:
4/16/2020- The Pecos League is aware of the rapidly changing developments regarding COVID-19. The Pecos League was originally scheduled to have a 64 game regular season start on 5/27/2020 and end on 8/1/2020 with 12 teams in 6 states. This will not happen.
The Pecos League has adjusted its season to a 48 game season with a start date to July 1, 2020 with an end date August 16, 2020 assuming it is deemed safe by local governments to play with fans at this time.
The other option the Pecos League may have to consider is to have four teams play in one location. No travel, no hotels and likely limited fan interaction would occur. But the players who need to play in the 2020 season would be able to play.
“There are 12 cities in the Pecos League and there are 12 different opinions, two of the cities have said no baseball in 2020. We will adjust and if possible play a 48 game season beginning July 1.”
I do commend the Pecos League and the Empire League for attempting to play and bring baseball to players and fans who are greatly missing it. The sacrifices these teams are all making to play at a time of such uncertainty should be recognized if they do indeed have a 2020 season.