Pandemic wipes out New Jersey’s minor league baseball
Yet another casualty of COVID-19: minor league baseball. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor leagues’ governing body announced there will be no 2020 season. That means no baseball this summer for the Trenton Thunder, Lakewood BlueClaws, or Somerset Patriots.
The Thunder (Yankees AA) and the Blue Claws (Phillies A) are both affiliated with major league teams, while the Patriots are independent. The Patriots’ lack of affiliation may be an advantage as they are trying to organize some semblance of baseball for the summer. MyCentralJersey.com reports the Patriots are trying to formulate a plan that would pit teams of local amateurs against each other on the weekends at TD Bank Ballpark.
They’re looking for local players who might have played in college or the minor leagues (including minor league free agents who now have nowhere to play this summer) to field competitive teams.
While the cancellation of the minor league season for MLB affiliated clubs was expected, it is still sad. With no TV money, minor league teams are almost totally dependent on attendance to fund their operations and gatherings the size of a baseball crowd are still not allowed. Because of their affiliation with big league teams, the Thunder and BlueClaws won’t field any teams this summer.
The Thunder, last year’s Eastern League champions, were expected to showcase some of the Yankees’ top prospects this year. Arm & Hammer Park has been a popular summertime destination, averaging over 5,000 fans a game last year. Thunder GM Jeff Hurley said, "Our staff is already making exciting plans for your Trenton Thunder baseball to return bigger, better and safer than ever in April 2021.” You can get updates from the team’s website.
The BlueClaws would have been celebrating their 20th season this summer. Team president Joe Ricciutti told the Asbury Park Press “Minor League Baseball teams, like many businesses that are seasonal, are reliant on their core season, When that season doesn't happen, it's tremendously challenging." More info is available at the BlueClaws’ website.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.