The Salem Red Sox, along with Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Carolina League announced Tuesday evening the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
That leaves the Salem Red Sox actively developing and finalizing arrangements to move forward and address alternate plans and refund options to current ticket holders.
On March 12th, Minor League Baseball , in conjunction with health officials and the Federal Government, had announced the delay to the start of the 2020 season. While Red Sox staff continued to prepare for a rescheduled opening night, the complexity of the issues created by the COVID-19 virus were too great to overcome for Minor League Baseball to have its 2020 season.
“While we are saddened to see the official cancellation of the season, our most important focus remains the health and safety of our fans, staff and community,” Red Sox General Manager Allen Lawrence said in a release Tuesday. “When baseball returns to Salem Memorial Ballpark, we promise to be ready to deliver affordable, family entertainment fans have counted on for years.”
“The Salem Red Sox are so fortunate to have such a devoted fan base and supportive community,” Lawrence added. “During these unique times, our organization has felt an abundance of encouragement and unwavering support as our team and entire baseball community navigate these uncharted waters.”
With the cancellation of the baseball season, following state and federal guidelines, the organization’s focus will pivot to hosting public and private events at Salem Memorial Ballpark this Summer, Fall and Winter, The Red Sox are developing a special event series featuring an assortment of programming for fans to enjoy as everyone awaits the return of baseball in 2021.
Opening Day was originally scheduled for April 9th and the Red Sox switched gears to create unique and fun programs to remain engaged with the community. Salem Memorial Ballpark is a staple to Salem and the Roanoke Valley.
So far, the Red Sox have been opening the ballpark each Thursday through Saturday for an assortment of typical and not so typical food and beverage experiences. They have hosted youth baseball tournaments and plan to host the popular “Salem After Five” concerts later this summer.
Although Salem had to let go all of their interns after it became apparent that delays could be long, they have been fortunate to keep all of their full-time staff.
Other Minor League Baseball teams have been innovative in order to stay afloat. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Minnesota Twins Double-A affiliate, offered their fans the opportunity to spend the night at the ballpark. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies Triple-A) allowed paying fans to play Topgolf at the stadium. Other teams have done things like drive-in movies, farmers markets and other unique food events.
2020 has been tough for Minor League Baseball. Late last year, Major League Baseball revealed its intent to cut 42 teams from the minors. Before COVID-19, that was hanging over the heads of minor league players and personnel. Players, who make limited money in the minors, had to look for other opportunities while having to still wait for the potential start of a season at some point. For many players, it ended their careers while others who made it to the majors will be reaching free agency a year later, impacting their earnings potential.
Major League Baseball will be using 50-player pools for the upcoming 2020 season. That will be pared down to 28 players on the 14th day of the season and 26 players on the 29th day. Teams will also use 3-player taxi squads when traveling.
A tough season for professional baseball lies ahead. Hopefully, things will be brighter in 2021.