Minnesota and Wisconsin announced the cancellation of the 2020 American Legion baseball seasons Saturday due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, ending a streak of state tournaments for both states that date back to the 1920s.
Concerns for the safety of players, coaches, umpires, fans and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic were cited by the associations of both states.
“Safety has always been important in American Legion baseball,” said Minnesota American Legion Baseball Director Randy Schaub, of Danube, Minn., in a news release. “As much as we wanted to play this year, we cannot take chances with the players, coaches and fans we oversee.”
American Legion baseball in Minnesota dates back to 1923 with the first state tournament held in Mankato in 1926. In Wisconsin, 2020 will mark the first time since 1927 that it has not crowned a state champion.
The American Legion World Series, scheduled for August, was canceled last month. The national program also announced Friday it would no longer provide any national-level support, meaning no team insurance.
"Everyone involved in our program hoped to have American Legion baseball in 2020, but this was a necessary decision," Wisconsin American Legion Baseball Commissioner Roger Mathison said Saturday in a news release, which also cited facility availability, travel concerns and uncertainty of when sports will be allowed again in Wisconsin. "We fully expect to have our program return in 2021 and be played at a high level."
Minnesota has the largest American Legion baseball association in the United States with 366 teams in 2019 and 357 signed up for 2020. Wisconsin has the fourth largest with 217 teams in 2019. Nebraska (271) is second, followed by Pennsylvania (253).