Miners fans

A trio of fans cheer on the Mat-Su Miners during the Alaska Baseball League Top of the World Series.

PALMER — The 2020 Alaska Baseball League season has been canceled due to ongoing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Mat-Su Miners and Anchorage Glacier Pilots are working on a way to bring summer baseball to Southcentral Alaska in July.

“It’s all about getting kids ready for fall ball,” Miners general manager Pete Christopher said Friday afternoon, referring to the athletes preparing for the college season. “I made a promise to get (the players) up here.”

The Miners currently have 32 out-of-state players on the 2020 roster and four local players. Throughout the league’s process of working to adapt to state mandates and guidelines regarding the pandemic, Christopher has said this summer is all about developing talent and getting the players innings and at-bats. Prior to Friday, the option on the table was a four-team, month-long league season that would start about July 1. That hope died during a league conference call Friday morning. Christopher said the Chugiak Chinooks withdrew from the league for the summer. The Chinooks are part of the Ohio-based Athletes in Action program, which is not fielding any of its teams this summer. The Anchorage Bucs also decided not to participate this summer.

That left the Miners and the Pilots. The two programs transitioned toward a new plan later in the day Friday. The Miners and Pilots have agreed to play Thursday through Sunday nights, each week throughout the month of July. Christopher said the Miners would have intrasquad games the remainder of the week.

But there’s a catch, Christopher said. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz needs to green light the use of a municipality facility, Mulcahy Stadium, the Pilots’ home ball park.

“We should know by the end of next week,” Christopher said.

Christopher said the out-of-state players will be tested for COVID-19 multiple times before arriving in Palmer. Each player will be tested five days before they are scheduled to fly to Alaska. Each player will also be tested at Ted Stevens International Airport when they arrive in Alaska.

Christopher said the Miners will also monitor players’ health throughout their time with the team. Currently people who travel to Alaska are required to quarantine for 14 days once arriving in the state. That state-issued mandate is ordered through June 2. Christopher said he’s hopeful that the mandate will be lifted.

The ABL is typically a five-team league. The Kenai-based Peninsula Oilers announced earlier this spring that they would not field a team in 2020. The state’s sixth summer program is the Fairbanks Goldpanners, which operates as an independent team.

Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at editor@frontiersman.com.

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