The 2020 American Legion baseball season has officially been canceled.
The decision came to be on Saturday, May 9. The American Legion of Minnesota Executive Committee, the Minnesota American Legion Baseball Committee and Minnesota American Legion Commander Mark Dvorak made the final call.
The reason for the cancellation, as many people already suspected, is to ensure the safety of players, coaches, umpires, and fans.
Statewide COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings played a part in the final decision.
In 2019, 336 teams took the field to play Legion baseball. This year, 357 teams signed up to play ball. The Minnesota committee met on Saturday, April 11 to discuss the upcoming season, but didn’t make any announcements about the uncertain baseball season until now.
Monticello Legion Assistant Coach Ryan Nett says the cancellation of the season was something that he saw coming.
The news, however, was heartbreaking, Nett said.
“Unfortunately, in my gut, I felt that this was the way things were headed after the high school season and the Legion World Series were canceled,” Nett said.
Nett feels for for his seniors and the kids who can never get their final season back.
He also feels the loss of the season on a personal level. He loves to coach and he grew up in what he calls a “baseball family” so he’s surrounded by a lot of people who are effected by this cancellation.
He admits that it’s tough to hear, but he agrees with the decision.
“I think to say let’s try it and see what happens would be selfish of me, as much as I miss baseball,” Nett said. “There is so much unknown about what is happening with COVID-19, that to possibly risk peoples’ health right now might not be worth it.”
The Monticello team had 20 games scheduled, a St. Cloud Chutes tournament at Putz and Faber Fields, and St. Michael’s Veterans Night.
The team would have consisted of players, Jason Axelberg, Thomas Van Culin, Jackson Pribyl, Calvin Schmitz, Jon Affeldt, Mason Lovegren, Chase Bocken, Bret Schoen, Eli Shaffer, Austin Hageman, Caden Ritter, Brock Woitalla, and Jacob Rasmussen.
Nett said that he and Coach Cole Deibele haven’t communicated personally with the team, just here and there on social media, but they’re going to reach out soon.
He looked back and thought about what he’s going to miss most.
“I will miss working with the kids and watching them enjoy the great game of baseball,” Nett said. “We have a great group of players that were returning from a very good baseball team last year, so it’s sad I won’t be able to coach all the kids, but I will really miss the seniors that are leaving our program.”