Minor League Baseball cancels 2020 season; PawSox eye Worcester

MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL announced Tuesday that the 2020 season has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also means that the final season of the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island will not take place. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL MELLO
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL announced Tuesday that the 2020 season has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also means that the final season of the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island will not take place. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL MELLO

PAWTUCKET (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.

This also means that there will be no final season for the Pawtucket Red Sox in Rhode Island, as the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate plans to move to Worcester, Mass., next year.

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.

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“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 PawSox, which were supposed to play their 50th and final season at McCoy Stadium this summer, said in a statement that the organization will continue its community efforts to help those impacted by the virus pandemic. It also plans to explore ways to have a “fitting farewell” to the 78-year-old stadium the team called home since 1970. McCoy is currently being used for the team’s “Dining on the Diamond” promotion since June 5 and the Boston Red Sox have discussed using McCoy as a workout facility to prepare for the upcoming MLB regular season.

Fans with tickets to PawSox home games will receive multiple options from the team, including refunds, the PawSox said.

“Naturally, as baseball fans, we are deeply disappointed to not have a summer of PawSox Baseball, especially in our 50th anniversary season,” said PawSox President Charles Steinberg in a statement. “Yet all of us recognize that the health, safety, and well-being of our players, fans, and entire community are paramount. But we will keep the faith; this may not be how the story ends.”

Steinberg also said the PawSox continue to have conversations with Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebian and other officials about current and future uses of McCoy.

PBN Special Projects Editor James Bessette contributed to this report.

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