A six-team pod of summer-collegiate Northwoods League teams will begin play on July 1, with the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, Green Bay Booyah, La Crosse Loggers, Rockford Rivets, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and Wisconsin Woodchucks launching their 2020 seasons.
The six teams are from Wisconsin and Illinois areas cleared for small group gatherings. Three other Wisconsin teams–the Madison Mallards, Eau Claire Express and Kenosha Kingfish–play in counties with more restrictive rules, as do the league’s Minnesota teams. In Eau Claire County, for instance, outdoor gatherings are still limited to only 100 attendees.
This group joins a three-team pod set to play at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark June 15.
“Patience, creativity, and a focus on safety have paid off for Northwoods League fans and players,” said Northwoods League President and Commissioner Gary Hoover in a press statement. “This next phase represents tremendous effort by our Affiliates to safely bring baseball back into their communities, and to provide their fans with a timeless way to spend quality time.”
The six-team pod could be expanded as restrictions on outdoor gatherings are lifted in coming weeks. But for now, this pod will play through August 20 and be capped with a two-day playoff series.
Meanwhile, current and former West Coast League teams are setting up their own circuit, the Wild Wild West League, playing weekend ball in the greater Portland area. Participating teams include the Portland Pickles, West Linn Knights, Gresham GreyWolves and Portland Gherkins. More teams could be added later. Play would begin in July and run through August, with no fans in the stands initially. All games will be broadcast for free (and sponsored by Adventist Health Portland) on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Each broadcast will feature special guest commentators, including Pickled owner Jon Ryan and Sarah Colonna.
“We are so excited to finally see some baseball,” said Pickles co-owner and president Alan Miller. “This is an amazing opportunity for us to try something different and experiment with broadcast engagement in new ways.”
Each game will also be equipped with Synergy digital video cameras, allowing players, coaches, and scouts to monitor players and follow their progress throughout the league.
The Northwoods League joins the Coastal Plain League, Expedition League, Florida Collegiate Summer League and Midwest Collegiate League in launching play this season. The West Coast League, Prospect League, Western Canadian Baseball League, MINK League, Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, New York Collegiate Baseball League, Ohio Valley League, New England Collegiate Baseball League, Cape Cod League and the Valley Baseball League have canceled the 2020 season. The Futures Collegiate Baseball League and the Texas Collegiate League have announced delays to the 2020 summer-collegiate season.
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