By Matt Noonan
Cam Fox was hopeful for an American Legion baseball season to take place back in March, despite the state of Massachusetts shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But when Fox learned that there would not be a season this summer, he decided to start his own league with Steve Maze, who is the senior manager of Morrisette Legion Post 294 in Quincy.
“To put a league together in two months is pretty chaotic,” said Fox, who is the senior manager for the Braintree Post 86 squad and co-founder of the Massachusetts Independent Baseball League (MIBL). “But what we’ve done for these kids to get a chance to just have an opportunity to get back on the field (was important to us.).
“A lot of these kids didn’t play high school baseball (this spring) due to the pandemic, (including) a lot of seniors that didn’t get to play, as well, so it is basically a U19 team (for every town that will be competing in our league this summer).”
The MIBL currently has 16 teams slated to compete in its senior division, along with eight squads that will make up its junior division. The league will follow the same rules both coaches and players are accustomed to playing every summer.
But in addition to adhering to the American Legion rules, Maze stressed health and safety as the league’s main priority.
“This (league) is not free for all,” Maze explained. “We can’t just go in and play. (We will be following) the local board of health in each community, along with the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines.”
All MIBL coaches and players will be required to wear a mask when both entering and leaving the field, as well as in the dugout. Players will have the option to wear a mask in the field, but face coverings will be essential for all coaches when conversing with umpires and assignors.
Fans will be allowed to attend games with social distancing and mask-wearing strongly encouraged.
“As long as they follow the guidelines, they are more than welcome to come (to games this summer),” said Fox.
According to the league’s website, each team in both divisions will compete in a minimum of 15 contests – some may play 16 or 17 contests – and if for some reason games are canceled due to the state’s reopening, they will be made up at the end of the season.
As of today, the MIBL’s inaugural season will commence next Tuesday, July 7, and conclude Monday, August 3.
Starting a league is certainly no easy task especially during such unprecedented times. But both Fox and Maze seem hopeful, as well as excited for the opportunity they have created for not just their own teams, but every player that has signed up and is eager to play their favorite sport.
“When the first pitch is thrown it will be the most gratifying feeling,” said Maze.
“It’s nice to know we have the support of local towns, teams, and news coverage, but the ultimate goal is to get out there and play baseball.”
Added Fox, “It sounds weird, but (this league) is something different even though it would be the norm of every year (and summer for our players), so it is really cool and definitely a blessing for these kids. But like Steve said, once that first pitch (is recorded) and that first week of games is over then it will feel normal as usual.”
Massachusetts Independent Baseball League (MIBL) Links: