The Frontier League, which includes the Washington Wild Things as one of its members, is expected to announce this week whether it will be playing a shortened 2020 schedule or cancel the entire season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With each passing day it appears less likely that the Frontier League, the largest independent professional baseball league, will put a product on the diamonds this summer.

Frontier League teams typically have only two weeks of spring training before the regular season, but deputy commissioner Steve Tahsler said last week on the Indy Ball Report Podcast that it would take twice that to get a season started.

“Our teams are telling us, realistically it will takes four weeks from permission being granted to the first game, just to get all the logistics worked out,” he said.

That means the earliest the Frontier League could be targeting as a start date would be the week of July 19, and that would leave only seven weeks until the Frontier League’s usual regular-season finale of the Sunday before Labor Day.

If the Frontier League decides to play its 28th season, it will be without Quebec and Trois-Rivieres. The two Canadian franchises were among five former Can-Am League teams added in a merger in October, giving the Frontier League 14 members. A ban on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada was extended to July 21, meaning the border is closed to minor-league baseball teams.

The Atlantic League, which is the top independent league and has two franchises in Pennsylvania – York and Lancaster – announced Friday that its season has been canceled.

The American Association, a 12-team league based in the midwest, will play a shortened 60-game season but with only six of its teams. Games will be played in three hub cities: Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fargo, North Dakota, and Milwaukee.

Tahsler said that using hub cities – league locations where health department regulations on outdoor gatherings and activities are less restrictive – is not likely to happen in the Frontier League.

“It’s an option, but not one we’re strongly considering,” he said. “Our preference is to be able to play baseball in as many of our markets as possible, and realizing that some of those markets might not be able to play regular Frontier League baseball and may have to do other activities that have fewer fans or less travel involved.”

Perhaps that’s why the Wild Things advertised on their Twitter account over the weekend that their ballpark will be the site of a camp/league from July 13 through Aug. 26 that will include four teams playing a minimum of three games each week.

  • Washington was to host the Frontier League’s all-star game next month.
  • The Belle Vernon Area School Board is expected to hire a head girls basketball coach at tonight’s meeting. Ronnie Drennen resigned last month after two seasons as the Leopards’ coach. He had a 30-16 overall record that included a 19-9 mark in section games. The Leopards lost in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

Sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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