LYNN — Baseball in the city of Lynn won’t be back as early as anticipated.
Following weeks of deliberation, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League has announced that the May 27 start date of the 2020 season has been delayed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league remains optimistic about taking the field at some point this season, and is working towards that goal with its clubs, owners and league executives.
“As soon as we have clarity on guidelines and procedures for playing baseball, we will look to adapt and begin,” said FCBL Commissioner Joe Paolucci in a statement on the league’s website. “While all scenarios and contingencies are under consideration, we remain hopeful.”
The FCBL is made up of seven teams from various parts of New England, each of which plays 28 home games and 28 away games. Each franchise is made up of elite collegiate athletes competing in a minor league style format, and at least 50 percent of the players on each team must be from New England or attend college in New England. The league has attracted more than two million fans to its games since debuting in 2011.
Derek January, the Swampscott native who is the president and general manager of Lynn’s North Shore Navigators, says that the team and the league are taking things one day at a time.
“It’s out of our hands at this point, but we have been having a lot of discussions about what we need to do to be able to operate safely this season,” said January. “There will obviously be a lot of new guidelines in place when the season does get started, so we need to be prepared for that.”
The Navs seem to be operating with as much normalcy as possible to this point, continuing to sign players to the roster and prepare for the season. North Shore most recently added Swampscott’s Nick Reiser to the pitching staff.
Considering all the players in the league are either future or current college baseball players who had their spring seasons canceled, January is optimistic that the league will be able to find a way to get going eventually.
“It would be awful if these guys didn’t get to play at all this year, but I really don’t think that will be the case,” January said. “I really believe if things continue to trend in the right direction, we’ll be able to have a season. It might be a shortened season, but we’ll be able to give these guys an opportunity to play this summer.”
As far as when the season will begin, January thinks that the easing of the stay-at-home order in Massachusetts — currently set for May 18 — might be a positive step in the right direction.
“We have been doing a lot of planning to this point in terms of what we need to do to keep everyone — our players, our coaches, our fans and our staff — safe,” said January. “We’re waiting for the government to give us the go-ahead, but once that happens we will be ready to get started. We’re probably looking at a July 1 start, which means we’ll be waiting a while longer. But if we can just hold on for that little while longer, the return of baseball will be that much sweeter for everyone involved.”