Portland Sea Dogs fans can officially scratch attending a 2020 game at Hadlock Field off their list of summer outings.
According to multiple reports, including one by Baseball America that cited multiple sources, the season will be canceled for all of minor league baseball.
An official announcement was made Tuesday afternoon by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without minor league baseball played,” National Association president Pat O’Conner said. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
The Sea Dogs are the Class AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and Portland has been the temporary home to several of the organization’s stars. Players often are called up to the major leagues directly from Portland, even though the Red Sox have a Triple-A team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
That team is being relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, starting with the 2021 season.
The COVID-19 pandemic that led to a shutdown for all of American sports, including professional baseball, led to tense negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players association. The two sides finally agreed last week to hold a 60-game season starting in late July.
Big-league training camps are slated to begin this week with numerous COVID-19 protocols. However, MLB also put into place a system under which MLB teams can have a pool of 60 players from which to draw.
That includes 30 players on the roster and another 30 potential call-ups — many of them Class AA or Class AAA players — who will undergo organized training to be ready in case they are needed.
There were ongoing concerns about the ability of teams to keep players, coaches, team personnel and fans safe. That led to organizations keeping their training and minor-league facilities closed, especially since many of them are located in Florida and Arizona, two states where COVID-19 outbreaks have increased recently.
The Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and the minors expires after this season, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.
The move to call off the minor-league season had been expected throughout baseball, but players and fans alike had held out hope that some games would be played.
As evidence, the Portland Sea Dogs announced last week that it was transforming Hadlock Field into a temporary nine-hole target-style golf course July 9-12.
The team previously has made some of its stadium food, including hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, available for takeout.