Greenfield Minor League and Greenfield Girls Softball League cancel 2020 seasons

  • Tognarelli players cheer on their team from the dugout against Denny's during an Opening Day game for Greenfield Minor League Baseball at Lunt Field in 2018. The league announced on Friday night that it would be canceling the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. STAFF FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

  • Players from Pipione's Sport Shop shake hands with the team from Descavich Plumbing and Heating after their game during Opening Day for the Greenfield Girls Softball League last season at Murphy Park in Greenfield. The league announced on Friday it was canceling its 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Staff FILE Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2020 8:27:09 PM

Despite optimism as recently as last week, youth baseball and softball leagues in the city of Greenfield announced over the weekend that they wouldn’t be fielding teams this summer.

Greenfield Minor League Baseball and the Greenfield Girls Softball League, which together serve youths in Greenfield from ages 5-12, announced on Friday night that they had officially canceled their 2020 seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

GML, which runs with upward of 150 players each summer, had tried to keep its season alive as recently as last week. The league announced it was moving forward with plans for skills and drills practices, and was hoping to enlist a platoon of volunteer coaches to help oversee players who would have had to deal with strict guidelines from the state due to COVID-19.

League President Matt Zraunig was preparing for GML to begin practice on Monday in hopes of getting games up and running with an Opening Day set for July 5. That would have coincided with Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, which is expected to allow youth sports to begin playing games. Phase 2 from Governor Baker’s office had “limited activities exclusively to no-contact drills and practices” for contact sports.

GML’s plan changed on Thursday, when the Greenfield Board of Health voted against youth contact sports being able to open up during Phase 2 in the city. The league held an emergency meeting on Thursday, and followed that up with Friday’s announcement that the league would not be playing this summer.

“That decision (from the Board of Health) was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Zraunig on Friday night.

The league did still hold a Friday night meeting with interested coaches, and Zraunig said the show of support was impressive.

“The turn out was fantastic. There was plenty of interest and help from interested coaches in order to help us try and navigate a season,” he said. “Ultimately, the decision by the Board of Health was the biggest factor for us in canceling the season.”

The league released the following statement on Friday night:

“It is with a heavy heart that GMLB has decided to cancel the 2020 season. As you know it was our intent to begin practice on Monday, June 15 that cooperated with phase 2 of the Massachusetts reopening plan. On Thursday June 11, 2020 the Greenfield Board of Health voted that youth sports would not be allowed during phase 2. This decision is scheduled to be re-evaluated at their next meeting on July 2. The GMLB Board of Directors decided that starting on July 2 or after would not be a feasible timeframe. Please know that the GMLB Board of Directors exhausted all options to provide a safe environment to play baseball. However, the unexpected decision by the Board of Health to prohibit youth sports until at least July 2 did not leave a feasible amount of time for a sufficient baseball season.

“Please be assured that the GMLB will continue its efforts in supporting the opening of all youth sports,” the statement continued. “Whether it is at the July 2 Board of Health Meeting or prior, we will be heard and appreciate your support. If youth sports are allowed back this summer, GMLB will consider organizing some “sandlot/pickup” games to keep youth active and involved. Thank you all for your patience and support. Stay safe and enjoy the summer. The President and Treasurer will convene to establish a refund procedure which will be posted at and on the GMLB Facebook Page within the next week. ”

GGSL, which had about 160 players in its league in 2019, held a board meeting Friday night and decided to also cancel its 2020 campaign.

“It is with heavy hearts that Greenfield Girls Softball has decided to cancel the 2020 season,” the league said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision to make as the league has worked tirelessly over the last several weeks to make sure that we would be able to play while following all the necessary guidelines laid out by the Governor and USA Softball. We hope that our softball families stay safe and healthy in these unprecedented times and we look forward to getting back on the field in 2021. Refunds will be issued to those families that have already paid the registration fee.”

GGSL President Rich Mascavage said that like GML, the league had been working toward operating as recently as this week.

“It’s a very tough decision, that’s why we waited as long as we could to make it,” Mascavage said. “We had been crunching the numbers, figuring out, ‘How can we do this?’ All those plans were being made and we had been trying to get everything ready to have a couple weeks of practice before we did try and run the games. It didn’t work out in the end but you still have to make those plans if you’re going to try. We did everything we could.”

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