PALMER — Following the cancelation of the 2020 Alaska Baseball League season due to the ongoing concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mat-Su Miners and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots put together a proposal that could still bring summer baseball to Southcentral Alaska.
But that’s not going to happen either.
The Anchorage Glacier Pilots have decided not to field a team in 2020, Mat-Su Miners general manager Pete Christopher said. That also forced the Miners to also forgo the summer season.
“We tried everything,” Christopher said. “All of the other teams decided not to play.”
The Miners and Pilots had tentatively agreed to play each other four times per week, Thursday through Sunday, throughout the month of July, and the Miners would host intrasquad games the remainder of the week. Christopher said he learned of the Pilots’ decision during a conference call with Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum Tuesday.
“Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Commissioner Adam Crum did everything they could possible to bring baseball back to Alaska,” Christopher said. “It just didn’t work out. The other teams were afraid of COVID. The other teams felt it was too much of a risk.”
Christopher said league general managers were in consistent contact with state officials, including Dunleavy and Crum. Christopher praised the state leaders for their help to guide the league in the effort to salvage some type of a summer season. The Miners were set to bring 32 out-of-state athletes to Palmer, along with the four in-state players on the 2020 roster. The organization had already put together a testing protocol, Christopher said. Each out-of-state player would be tested for COVID-19 five days before their flight to Alaska and again at the Ted Stevens International Airport once arriving in Anchorage. The team would also take players’ temperature and monitor for symptoms.
The ABL is a historic summer collegiate baseball amateur developmental league that draws some of the nation’s best Division I talent each summer. The league typically includes five teams: the Anchorage Bucs, Anchorage Glacier Pilots, Chugiak Chinooks, Mat-Su Miners and Peninsula Oilers. A sixth Alaska program, the Fairbanks-based Alaska Goldpanners, which operates as an independent, also cancelled its season. The Oilers were the first team to withdraw for the season. The remaining teams followed with a proposal for month-long, four-team schedule in July. Earlier this month, the Chugiak Chinooks opted out. The Chinooks are part of the Ohio-based Athletes in Action program, which decided not to field any teams this summer. The Anchorage Bucs also declined to participate this summer.
The ABL was founded in 1974.
Christopher said the Miners are now looking ahead to the 2021 season.
‘We’ll be back next year,” Christopher said.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at editor@frontiersman.,com.