PAWTUCKET — There will be baseball at McCoy Stadium this summer, but only members of the Boston Red Sox’ taxi squad will be engaging in America’s pastime for workouts.
Major League Baseball informed all Minor League Baseball affiliates on Tuesday that it will not be providing players for teams for the 2020 season.
“Overall, we are in need of help,” MILB President Pat O’Conner said in informing minor league clubs of the decision, seeking federal assistance for minor league baseball clubs for seven months without income.
“It is really necessary to get our clubs through,” O’Conner said. “Many of our clubs qualify for money that Congress issued through one of the first stimulus packages.That was a Band-Aid on a hemorraging industry.”
The PawSox have been in discussions daily with their parent Boston organization on the future of minor league baseball.
“Naturally, as baseball fans, we are deeply disappointed to not have a summer of PawSox Baseball, especially in our 50th anniversary season,” PawSox President Dr. Charles Steinberg said in a team statement Tuesday.
“Yet all of us recognize that the health, safety, and well-being of our players, fans, and entire community are paramount,” Steinberg added. “We will keep the faith — this may not be how the story ends.”
The PawSox confirmed what had long been suspected, that the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed all of professional, collegiate, high school and amateur sports since mid-March, has put an end to minor league baseball for this season.
“Due to the many COVID-19-related challenges that would accompany staffing team rosters for a two-month season, MLB has now advised that they will not be assigning players to team,” IL President Randy Mobley said.
This season is the first in the 137-year history of the International League, which was founded in 1884, that no games will be played.
As MLB prepares to re-open a piecemeal season, the Boston Red Sox will conduct a preseason training camp at Fenway Park, beginning Friday. Boston has been in contact with PawSox GM Dan Rea for discussions on the availability of McCoy Stadium to serve as a site for 20-30 taxi squad players.
The PawSox will continue their community efforts to help those affected by the coronavirus, and will continue to celebrate their 50th anniversary (1970-2020) and offer their popular “Dining at the Ballpark” series for fans. The PawSox still intend to open the 2021 season at Worcester’s Polar Park as the WooSox.
“Dining on the Diamond, the popular innovation that began June 5, will continue if possible,” Steinberg added, “as the club navigates the scheduling needs and COVID-19 compliance of their major league affiliate.”
The PawSox will explore ways to salute their final year at McCoy Stadium with a fitting farewell for the 78-year-old structure. Fans with tickets to 2020 PawSox home games will be contacted by the club’s ticket office regarding a variety of options, including refunds.
“We continue to speak with public officials about the uses this summer — and beyond — of McCoy Stadium,” Steinberg said. “So many high school and college players have loved playing on this field through the years, and we will see if there is a way to continue to provide that opportunity.”
The MLB decision to suspend play at all minor league baseball levels from coast to coast puts many clubs in peril.
“We’re just treading water,” O’Conner said. “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. It’s really been a challenge, many of our clubs have gone through one, two, maybe three rounds of furloughs and paycuts.
“It’s extremely difficult for us to project,” O’Conner added of the future of many financially struggling minor league baseball organizations. “There is no end in sight. We are in dire straits.”
The 2020 season would have been the 50th season of professional baseball at McCoy Stadium and the last at One Ben Mondor Way for the PawSox who are scheduled to start the next season in Worcester.
“While this is a sad day for many,” Conner said, “this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for 2021.”