PULASKI, Va. – Even as Virginia continues through a phased reopening, the coronavirus is affecting local sports.
The 2020 Appalachian League season is delayed indefinitely, the league announced on Friday.
The Pulaski Yankees are among the league’s teams that will be affected and General Manager Betsy Haugh said it’s likely the team won’t play at all this summer.
“The honest truth is there’s not a very good likelihood at all that we will have a minor league season this year," Haugh said.
Despite that, the team is still trying to get people out to the ballpark. On Saturday little leaguers will take the field and the concession stands will be open.
“A lot of people are stir crazy, a lot of people are hoping for some quote unquote normal summer entertainment and we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to provide a great venue for them," Haugh said.
It’s also a blow for the local community. The Yankees said they provide about $40,000 in meals tax to the local governments. Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said it’s more than just money, too. The community is known for summer nights at the ballpark.
“The loss of the season for the Yankees, it’s tragic for the community, mainly because we love the Yankees," Sweet said. “There’s also the residuals that come along with that, people buying fuel there, people staying overnight, people getting exposed to our community, falling in love with it like we have.”
Sweet said together the team and local leaders need to come up with a call to the bullpen for a new plan. The Yankees are already hard at work on that. Haugh said the team has movie nights, family events and a softball league in the works.
“We hope to create a lot of memories for people and give them a lot of those touch points where they can say, ‘Hey, you know, I wasn’t able to attend a Pulaski Yankees game, but I was still able to go have a good time at Calfee Park this summer,’" Haugh said.
The league said it will be following CDC guidelines regarding when it will be safe to reopen.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the start of the 2020 Appalachian League season is being delayed indefinitely. The league and its clubs will continue to monitor the situation and work with our Major League Baseball® affiliates, while following the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) and adhering to local reopening guidelines. As always, the health and safety of the Appalachian League fans, players and staff members is our top priority.”