Tag Archives: Washington PA

Brilliance Sox Win Empire Playoff Series, Look Ahead to 2021

In an effort to save the 2020 baseball season, the Empire League sent two teams to Washington, PA to play two teams fielded by the BlackSox baseball organization. The one month series ended with a two day playoff series to determine a champion.

The regular season series ended on September 25th with the Road Warrior Black Sox taking the number one seed for the two day playoffs.

The Brilliance Sox ended up as the second seed, with the Empire teams the Tupper Lake Riverpigs and Saranac Lake Surge taking third and fourth respectfully.

On Monday, the Brilliance Sox defeated the Tupper Lake Riverpigs in the first game of the series to move on to the championship game.

And in an upset, the fourth seeded Surge defeated the Black Sox in extra innings to advance to the finals.

Tuesday, the Riverpigs defeated the Black Sox in the consolation game to finish the finals in third place.

The championship game between the Brilliance Sox and Surge was a pitchers duel that went into extra innings. After a homerun by the Sox in the first, the game went scoreless until the Surge were able to answer with one run of their own in the 8th. In the end, the Brilliance Sox were able to walk it off in the bottom of the 12th inning to become the 2020 Empire League Series Champions.

Other awards given out at the conclusion of the season included:

In addition, multiple players from the series were able to sign contracts to higher independent leagues for the 2021 season.

Looking ahead to next season, the Empire League is hoping to return to their usual season in the Northeast of the country. The league, which focuses on developing rookie level talent, is looking forward to being able to have a full season again. Check out more information about the Empire League HERE.

The BlackSox will once again be moving ahead with their development of players through exposure events, spring training games and the newly established Yinzer Baseball Confederacy.

This league will consist of 4-6 teams playing 50-60 games at a Frontier League ballpark (at Wildthings Park in Washington, PA) from June-September in front of professional managers and scouts. The Black Sox Organization plans to continue being the feeder system for all of independent baseball.

This season, the league provided 72 opportunities to play among their two teams. Since 2018, the Black Sox have helped promote 188 players.

More information can be found on the Black Sox official website HERE.

On behalf of myself and the players, I would like to give a shout out and thank you to the Washington Wild Things organization for the use of their facilities, Eddie Gonzalez with the Empire League and Joe Torre with the Black Sox for giving these players a safe chance to play baseball during a summer of cancellations and concerns surrounding the pandemic. I know the players will be forever grateful for the opportunities given to them this season.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Eddie and Joe for being so welcoming to me whenever I was at the ballpark.

To the Black Sox boys… many of whom I’ve known for the majority of your careers, congratulations on finishing up this season. I am so proud of you all and love your drive, determination and dedication to the game of baseball. Thank you for always welcoming me in as part of the team. You made an otherwise boring summer a lot of fun. Best of luck in the future! You guys know you always have a home on Indy Ball Island.

Official Statement: Wild Things Suspend Season

Wild Things Suspend Season Under Threat of State Enforcement

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2020

Washington, PA – The Washington Wild Things confirm the organization was warned by the Pennsylvania State Police that a continuation of the baseball season could lead to enforcement actions. “We are extremely frustrated right now,” said Steven Zavacky, Executive Director and President of the organization, “We have done everything humanly possible to safely operate our facility…… we have gone above and beyond, and it was working.“

Earlier this spring, Governor Wolf permitted professional sports to resume play in front of 250 people; the Wild Things immediately went to work putting together an efficient and effective plan that would enable spectators to safely enjoy an afternoon or evening at the ballpark. 

“It was my job,” said General Manager Tony Buccilli, “to put together a program that would ensure our players and fans stayed safe while enjoying quality competition. To that end, the Wild Things invited three other teams to play a season in Washington County.  The teams did not travel, and all players remained in the Washington area.  From the very beginning, we worked to ensure safety for everyone involved.  All four teams were in isolation before the season began, and all the players were extremely responsible about this because they knew how important it was for this project to be successful.”

“When the Governor limited in person attendance to 250 people he also outlined a procedure for requesting an exception.  The Wild Things submitted a comprehensive plan to the Secretary of Health outlining all of the steps the Wild Things would take to keep people safe,” said Zavacky. “The Wild Things requested that they be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, which would be 2200 people. And we were extremely pleased the Secretary of Health approved the plan,” he added.  “At the beginning of the season when we saw an uptick in the number of cases in Southwest Pennsylvania, the Wild Things decided to not exceed 250 people, even though we had an exemption because this action was the most responsible way to respond to the circumstances.

Protocol throughout the summer at Wild Things Park has included minimizing in-person ticket sales, monitoring employees and players health, performing temperature checks on fans entering the park, requiring masks, and offering a concession menu that included canned beverages, prepackaged condiments, prepackaged ice cream products and prepackaging hot dogs and hamburgers. The Wild Things also added social distancing signage, a reserved section for people aged 55 and older, plexiglass shields as well as hand sanitizing stations throughout the park.  The facilities were cleaned and disinfected before and after every game.

Zavacky continued, “Despite the fact that we were successfully providing families with safe, quality entertainment, I was warned this morning that the Wild Things were out of compliance with the Governor’s edicts.  While we vehemently disagree, the message was clear.  End the season or face consequences that would cripple the organization going forward.”

Buccilli went on to say, “We feel terrible. We never want to disappoint our fans and we were hoping not to have layoffs. Equally painful, we’re pulling the rug out from under our players and coaching staff who are in the middle of playoffs.  It’s terrible to work hard, trying do the right things, and then to be accused of doing something wrong.”

Stu Williams, one of the team owners added, “The Wild Things have continued to be an economic generator for Washington County this summer, drawing people from all over the country to Washington, PA where they could experience one of a handful of places hosting live professional baseball.  In addition, the Wild Things generated business for area hoteliers, landlords, and restaurants, by drawing four baseball teams to live here for six weeks.   We couldn’t have done any of these without several individuals who helped us to have as successful a summer as we had.  From state officials: Senator Camera Bartolotta, Representative Tim O’Neal to County Commissioners Diana Irey-Vaughn, Nick Sherman, and Larry Maggi to the great folks at North Franklin Township including Supervisors Bob Sabot, Sil Passalacqua, and Mike Quinn and their staff, and to everyone at The Washington County Tourism and Promotion Agency.  We also thank our corporate partners for staying with us this summer.  The Washington County Community is a very helpful and supportive one and we will always be grateful for the consideration they extend to us.”

Official release provided by washingtonwildthings.com