Willwerth: What A Lost Minor League Baseball Season Means To Me

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McCoy Stadium will not be hosting the final season of the Pawtucket Red Sox

By Brian Willerth

So, it’s official: there will be no Minor League Baseball this summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a tremendous loss, not just for the teams, but for families who say it’s an affordable way to spend a night out.

But there’s more to this cancelation for one team in New England: it also means the end of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The team will be playing games next season in Worcester.

The PawSox are celebrating their 50th anniversary this summer. It will be marked by the season that never happened. Fans won’t even get the chance to take in one last home game. Can you just picture what the final regular-season home game would’ve looked like?

I’ve been to several minor league stadiums over the years, and McCoy Stadium was always at the top of my list.

The tickets, both at McCoy Stadium and other places, were (and have been) cheap. And so is the food, along with the parking, which is usually free.

You could go down to McCoy Stadium and spend less than $20 on everything. And there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.

I remember going to games on Saturday nights for a ballgame and fireworks, spending Sunday afternoons in the sun, and even the occasional weekday 12:05 first pitch.

I hadn’t been there in several years due to changes in my work schedule, but what made McCoy Stadium special to me, was that the gameday experience was about the game.  That was the focus. You knew when you watched players play, you knew they were busting their butts, hoping to make it to the majors.  And yes, you can say that at every minor league ballpark, but the atmosphere at McCoy just felt special to me.

I wish Worcester good luck when the AAA affiliate moves there officially next season, and hopefully, they will be able to play next year. But to me, they will always be the PawSox. And I will miss McCoy stadium, still, home to the longest baseball game ever played.

TCNJ Cancels Football, ‘High-In Person Contact’ Activities For The Fall

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TCNJ Lions Logo (TCNJAthletics.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) will not be playing football this fall. In fact, TCNJ will not be competing in any ‘high in-person contact‘ activities throughout the fall semester, according to President Kathryn A. Foster, who shared the news through the school’s website.

Friday’s announcement follows a few other schools, including Bowdoin College and UMass Boston, that announced earlier this week that they would not be playing sports this fall either. Additionally, Morehouse College, a member of NCAA D-II, canceled its upcoming cross country and football season earlier today while Pratt Institute (N.Y.) announced yesterday that none of their fall athletic programs would be competing for an American Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) crown.

Foster expressed sympathy toward the school’s student-athletes that won’t have a chance to compete for the Lions this fall, including those that partake in intramural and club sports. But Foster did say that coaches and trainers can “arrange workouts and other individual fitness activities” while the Student Affairs staff will organize “low-contact recreational and cultural offerings.”

“I know how unfortunate and deeply disappointing this is for the many performers and athletes, coaches, and supporters who were looking forward to a fall season,” Foster said in today’s announcement. “I look forward to it, too. Yet the science on COVID-19 finds that activities with high in-person contact or proximity have the greatest likelihood of broad and rapid virus spread, a circumstance that at TCNJ could mean (a) shutdown of the campus.”

COVID-19 hasn’t been kind to the Garden State, which currently has recorded 172,000 confirmed cases and 14,872 deaths. But like most states in the northeast, including New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, the numbers and data are trending in the right direction, which could mean sports could return to TCNJ this winter.

Said Foster, “If all goes well in fall, we may be able to allow some performance and winter sports preparation.”

Morehouse College Cancels Its Cross Country & Football Seasons

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Morehouse College announced on Friday, June 26 that they would be canceling their upcoming football season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Morehouse College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Fall sports won’t be taking place this year at Morehouse College, according to the school’s president, David A. Thomas, Ph.D., who penned a letter to his student-athletes earlier today, which was posted on the athletic department’s website.

Thomas expressed sympathy for both the school’s cross country and football programs, which won’t be competing this fall for a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championship, but did say the college “will honor all athletic scholarship awards.”

“I know this news will be most disappointing to our scholar-athletes, especially our seniors,” Thomas wrote in today’s letter. “I can only ask for your understanding and respect for the fact that the College is prioritizing your health and safety ahead of all else.”

A major reason why Thomas elected to cancel the upcoming fall sports season was due to concern that both teams wouldn’t be able to follow social distancing guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when competing against various opponents during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Thomas did state in his letter that he hopes to welcome students back to campus in August and that decisions on winter and spring sports will be made later this year.

Morehouse College, which competes against other NCAA D-II athletic programs, becomes the third school to cancel its upcoming fall sports season after Bowdoin College and UMass Boston made a similar announcement earlier this week

The Maroon Tigers’ football team concluded its 2019 campaign with four wins while the Morehouse men’s cross country team placed fourth at the conference championship meet.

Noontime Commentary: Early Thoughts On Fall Sports In New England

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Some college athletic folks seem more pessimistic than optimistic about having football games on campus this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

It may be late June, but the thought of college sports taking place this fall, specifically in New England seems hard to fathom due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Sure, the numbers and data seem to be trending in the right direction in all six New England states, but before a slew of major announcements occurs next month, two schools have already announced plans to forgo the upcoming fall sports season.

Bowdoin College announced earlier today they would not be competing until next January, which means the school’s second-year football coach B.J. Hammer won’t be able to lead the Polar Bears onto the field in September. But it is possible we could see Hammer and the Polar Bears, along with their school’s other fall sports programs could compete during the spring semester, according to WGME-TV’s Dave Eid.

This past weekend the Boston Globe reported that UMass Boston wouldn’t be competing for Little East Conference (LEC) crowns this fall while Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman announced

today that the school plans to continue to operate remotely for the upcoming semester

Does this mean the Beacons of UMass Boston won’t be playing until this winter or next spring? Possibly, but as Newman said in today’s update about the fall semester, “If there were a way to make a different decision in a manner that we feel is responsible, we surely would. Sadly, the virus is spreading amongst athletes in states that have opened up. We don’t want that to happen to our Beacons. “

Indeed, the virus has impacted a slew of NCAA D-I schools and programs, including Clemson University and Louisiana State University (LSU). Additionally, it was reported lasted week that Kansas State had to press pause on its voluntary workouts for 14 days due to some student-athletes testing positive.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus is here to stay – most likely, we won’t resume a sense of normalcy until a vaccine is developed, but it is expected that more news of positive tests and schools forgoing fall sports to keep their students – and yes, their student-athletes safe – will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Rooting for schools to be open so students can return to campus is something we should all want, especially during such unprecedented times.

But unfortunately, this virus does not take vacations and will certainly continue to be with us when school bells begin to ring in late August and early September, which means it won’t be easy for football, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball games to be played this fall. 

Sports Will Return Under Phase Two Of Massachusetts Reopening

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By NoontimeSports.com 

The amateur, adult, and youth sports world received some good news today from the state of Massachusetts.

As announced earlier today during Governor Charlie Baker‘s press breifing, sports will be able to return in some capacity during the second phase of the state’s reopening.

The second phase of the Massachusetts reopening plan is scheduled for Monday, June 8.

“Today, we are releasing guidance and workplace safety standards for these outdoor adult sports, youth sports, and summer sports camps,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito during Wednesday’s briefing with the media. “This guidance includes guidelines for facility opperators, as well as activity organizers.

“As part of phase two, outdoor athletic facilities can be open for organized youth and adult sports activities in accordance with the guidance. Games, scrimmages, and tournaments are currently not permitted for any organized sports activities and contact sports must limit activities to no contact drills and practices.”

In addition to outdoor activities, the state has outlined plans for restrictions for indoor facilities “to supervised sports programs and sports campus for youths under the age of 18.”

Gov. Baker announced last week that the state’s professional sports teams would be able to hold practices, beginning Saturday, June 6. That is the same date both Baker and his administration are planning to provide Massachusetts residents with additional information on the second phase.

Wednesday’s announcement, along with the executive order Gov. Baker outlined earlier this week should be viewed as a positive step – a small one, of course – with restarting athletic events. It does not mean, however, that games and events can resume as they once did a few months ago.