The COVID-19 pandemic forced two cancellations to the beginning of the 2020 Home Talent League baseball season, which was set to play an abbreviated schedule starting July 4.
Yet, as diagnosed cases of the virus increased throughout Dane County, a decision was reached June 26 to cancel the station all together.
“After months of following the coronavirus pandemic and the effects it is having on our society, we have decided to cancel the 2020 season as a league,” league President Pat Reilly said in a statement to all teams.
The league had announced the season would open on Independence Day with safety restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease. Among them, players were not allowed to chew sunflower seeds, spit, shake hands or crowd into dugouts unless the 6-foot distancing rules applied.
On June 25, the Monona Braves announced independently – along with league defending champion Verona, West Middleton and Lake Mills – that it would not play this year to assure fans and players are kept safe.
Player/manager Vince Schmitz said he appreciated the league board discussing and developing guidelines to minimize the risks.
“After practicing and scrimmaging, we have realized that the health and safety guidelines are difficult and at times impossible to follow,” Schmitz said in a statement. “The game of baseball that we all have grown to love and enjoy has an immense social aspect to it. Frankly, the reason why our league exists is because the players lust for the competition and social aspect of The Home Talent League. As we attempted to move forward in the pandemic, we came to the understanding that now is not the time. We felt the risks are still too great for our players, fans and community.”
Pat Hawker, player and business manager for the Cottage Grove Firemen, said the team agreed with the league’s decision to pull the plug.
“Our main priority is the health and safety of our players, fans, and community during this pandemic. We understand that players and fans may have been disappointed, however, they were also understanding of the reason why it was cancelled,” Hawker said. “With the Home Talent COVID-19 guidelines that were put in place, and the uncertainty of the pandemic, there were too many unknowns to continue and play the game of baseball how we want or expect. We are hopeful for a 2021 season and we can get back to play the game in a normal, but safe manner.”
McFarland Muskies’ player/manager Justin Hanson said cancelling the season is bittersweet.
“On one hand, it’s nice not being in limbo, not knowing what was going to happen, and on the other hand, it stinks we can’t get this year’s season in,” he said. “All in all, we will take the summer off and come back strong next year.”