We have some clarity in the 2020 independent baseball world, as six American Association teams will be playing out of three hubs, with games hosted by the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Milwaukee Milkmen and Sioux Falls Canaries.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes will operate out of the Fargo hub, the Chicago Dogs will operate out of the Milwaukee hub, and the St. Paul Saints will operate out of the Sioux Falls hub. Each team will play 42 of their 60 games in their hub to limit travel. The schedule will allow any of the three road clubs to return home for games if local governmental restrictions allow for games with fans in attendance. A full schedule will be released Monday, June 15. A truncated spring training will begin on June 25, with Opening Day scheduled for July 3.
The American Association will experiment with new roster rules in 2020, highlighted by the elimination of rookie, LS, and veteran minimums and maximums on rosters, and a draft of players from non-participating clubs to allow the best possible talent available to play this season. The regular season will end on September 10, with a five-game American Association Finals pitting the top two teams from the regular season. The Cleburne Railroaders, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers and Texas AirHogs are not playing in 2020 but planning to return in 2021.
“We are very happy to be able to return professional baseball to our fans, albeit in a different fashion than usual,” said American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub. “We look forward to opening up our season on July 3 for a summer of high-level professional baseball and bringing America’s Pastime back to the fans.”
Like the Frontier League and the Atlantic League, the American Association is struggling to coordinate play under a patchwork of state, provincial, county and city COVID-19 guidelines. For instance, Franklin (WI), where the Milwaukee hub is located, is currently recommending crowds at sporting events to be limited to 50 people. The Dakotas, meanwhile, are operating under considerably looser COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.
“We hoped that with the COVID-19 situation in Manitoba improving, we could host games at Shaw Park while safely abiding by the social distancing recommendations outlined by our governments,” said Goldeyes’ general manager Andrew Collier. “Unfortunately, that will not be the case, and we cannot thank all of our loyal fans and corporate sponsors enough for their continued patience and support during these challenging times.
“We are obviously disappointed, but understand, and fully support, prioritizing the health and safety of all Manitobans,” Collier added. “The Goldeyes’ front office will provide all ticket holders and corporate partners a variety of flexible options for those who made payments in advance. The organization is already building towards a full return in 2021.”
“The Railroaders organization is tremendously disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to compete in 2020,” Railroaders President and Co-Owner John Junker said. “Our organization has been working with community leadership and local health officials throughout this process, and given the current situation in Texas we are unable to play.”
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