The New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) announced last last night that its board of directors, comprised of executives from its 13 member teams and officers, have voted to cancel the 2020 summer collegiate baseball season.
“This decision was reached after a careful and thoughtful review of the guidance from federal, state and local officials, the leadership of our host communities, and recommendations from the CDC and medical community. The conclusion was that canceling the 2020 season was necessary for the health, safety and well-being of our players, coaches, umpires, volunteers, fans and host families,” the NECBL said in the announcement.
NECBL is a wooden bat college summer league that fields teams in all six New England states.
Rhode Island is home to two NECBL teams – the Ocean State Waves, who play at Old Mountain Field in Wakefield, and the Newport Gulls, who play at Cardines Field in Newport.
“We understand that this decision will result in hardship and disappointment to our student-athletes who have already lost their college spring baseball season. For this reason, it breaks our hearts and runs counter to our competitive instincts and spirit. However, our first priority and obligation must always be the health and well-being of our players and our community. We promise to use this time out, and all of our resources, to make our 2021 season something truly special for our players, coaches and fans,” the NECBL said in the announcement.
Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the NECBL started play in 1994 and enjoyed its 25th-year anniversary season last summer. The New England League has sent over 150 alumni to the Major Leagues and has had nearly 100 alumni drafted in each of the last 10 Major League Baseball Drafts.
“We are part of the communities that host our member teams. We encourage our teams, as organizations, individually and working with their volunteers, to support community first responders and their local business sponsors, many of whom are restaurants that are going through difficult financial times. To show our appreciation to our host communities and supporters, we will dedicate Opening Day 2021 in each of our venues to thank, honor and support community organizations and first responders who serve on the front lines of combating COVID-19”, NECBL concluded.
Update: The Newport Gulls issued the following press release on Saturday afternoon;
“It is with extreme sadness that the Newport Gulls announce the cancellation of the 2020 New England Collegiate Baseball League Season. These are words that would have been unimaginable to utter, let alone this could be in the realm of possibility just a few short months ago but in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic is the best decision at this time.
This conclusion came late Friday night after the New England Collegiate Baseball League Board of Directors, which is comprised of executives from its 13 member teams and officers, voted to cancel the upcoming season. It was after extensive conversations between board members, consultation with healthcare professionals, guidance from Major League Baseball and NCAA officials, and exchanges with each individual community’s local government that the vote was made. Earlier this week, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo extended her stay at home orders and provided her “Open Up the Economy” and social distancing requirements. The requirements do not allow (sporting) events with 50 people until maybe August. Additionally, the NECBL encompasses five other states with their own stay at home orders with no clear indication when all states will be able to have public gatherings and sporting events.
Newport’s five-member Board of Directors; Chuck Paiva, Chris Patsos, Ron Westmoreland, Greg Fater, and Mark Horan, explored all options to operate this summer but needed to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches, host families, fans, and the community wouldn’t be compromised. Ultimately, this could not be asserted with absolute certainty. At least not at this point in time. “Safety is paramount,” said Gulls President & General Manager Chuck Paiva. Paiva continued to state, “It is very hard to put your hands around this. For the first time in my life and the lives of my fellow board members there will be no baseball in the summer; and the first time in 19 years, no Gulls baseball at Cardines Field.”
The Newport Gulls and the New England Collegiate Baseball League pride themselves on providing collegiate student-athletes the opportunity to chase their dreams of playing Major League Baseball. It is heart-breaking to know that this experience will be missed for the Gulls 2020 roster, especially after these young men had their college season cut short due to the virus. “Some of these players’ best memories will be of playing summer college baseball and building relationships that can last a lifetime which makes this decision even harder,” said Paiva.
Although there is not one NECBL franchise that is not devastated that they will not be able to benefit their community this summer, the timing could not have been worse for the Newport Gulls. 2020 was set to be arguably the most special summer in Gulls history. The Gulls were set to celebrate their 20thAnniversary and had an unbelievable Alumni Weekend planned for past members of the Gulls Family to travel back to “The Nest” to commemorate the organization’s many successes. 20thAnniversary Celebration Alumni Weekend was scheduled for July 10-12 and the following weekend was another huge event- the NECBL All-Star Game. On July 19, the Gulls were set to host the culminating event of the summer season for the fourth time in franchise history. Both of these events will be presented in 2021; with the added time to plan, each is sure to be amazing spectacles in their own regard. In addition to these two events and an overall tremendous promotional schedule, Newport will be dedicating a night to the individuals fighting this virus on the frontlines. Newport would like to show its appreciation to everyone that has selflessly been working day and night to deliver our country out of these dark times. Paiva noted, “I have no doubt that once baseball starts again at Cardines Field, there will not be a dry eye in the stadium as the Newport Gulls return to the nest.”
It is with great optimism that Newport Gulls Baseball looks forward to 2021 but also realizes that there is still a battle being fought. The NECBL hopes to be a beacon of hope next summer when the nation returns to normalcy. However, until then, the Gulls send their thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by the virus and hope for better days ahead shortly.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League released its own Press Release which can be viewed via http://www.necbl.com/view/necbl/news-1185/news_530870
All Newport Gulls stakeholders will be notified individually by members of the Newport Gulls Front Office. Please feel free to reach out to the Newport Gulls at 401-845-6832 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or input as to how 2021 can be the best summer yet. Stay strong and stay safe. We are all in this together.
Gulls Fly Together“