As Major League Baseball moves forward with its plan to begin a contracted 60-game schedule in late July, MLB has also announced the cancellation of Minor League Baseball’s 2020 season as a result of the Covid-19 virus.
“ It’s hard to believe,” said RockHounds general manager Monty Hoppel. “This is a first in my 37 years of baseball ... no season.”
The cancellation, which is the first in franchise history and a rarity for the Texas League, comes after nearly four months of discussions on whether or not a revised minor league season was feasible.
Minor League Baseball is comprised of 189 teams in 17 leagues in the US and the Dominican Republic. The RockHounds are members of the (class Double-A) Texas League, which includes eight clubs (four in Texas, two in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Oklahoma), and is one of 14 minor leagues with schedules involving extensive travel, one of the major considerations involved in MLB’s decision.
The RockHounds had just concluded their annual spring hosting of high school baseball and were preparing for the April 9 Texas League home opener when the Covid-19 outbreak began to have an impact. In late March it was announced that the start of the season would be delayed until at least May 21.
“ Safety has been the top priority throughout the process,” Hoppel said. “The possible start date kept getting pushed back but we were patiently holding out hope that we could start in July and play into October, roughly a half-season. But, as time passed, we could see the writing on the wall.”
With no baseball on the diamond in 2020, Hoppel indicated the RockHounds will begin working closely with season ticket holders and corporate partners to “give them great value and look ahead to the 2021 season. Those relationships are as important to us as the game itself.”
The club is also preparing a series of events at Momentum Bank Ballpark beginning in July and continuing until next “Opening Day.”
There is baseball on the schedule. The RockHounds will host a two-day tournament on July 23 & 24, with teams comprised of graduating high school seniors from across the Permian Basin.
A Christian concert featuring Matthew West is set for September 30 and a Labor Day Weekend Fireworks night is also “in the works.”
The club stressed that all events at Momentum Bank Ballpark will be conducted within the latest safety guidelines. A copy of the team’s Covid-19 Safety Plan is available via the club’s web site (midlandrockhounds.org).
Hoppel summed up the sentiment of the RockHounds’ staff and ownership perfectly, saying “we sure will miss our fans.”