Minor League Baseball will not play a 2020 season, meaning the Columbia Fireflies and 159 other affiliated teams across the U.S. and Canada will not take the field until 2021.
MiLB announced at 5 p.m. Tuesday that Major League Baseball would not provide players to affiliated minor league teams for 2020.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played," Pat O’Conner, Minor League Baseball president and CE0, said on the league's website. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."
Minor League Baseball, which began as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, was founded in 1901.
The Fireflies’ home opener had been originally scheduled for April 9.
“The Columbia Fireflies are devastated by today’s announcement,” Fireflies president John Katz said in a news release issued Tuesday by the team. “This is not just about the Fireflies not playing baseball. It is about our team of 30 dedicated staff members that rely on the Fireflies to support themselves and their families. It’s about our hundreds of part-time and seasonal team members that come together to make Segra Park the best fan experience in the South Atlantic League.”
On March 12, MiLB announced the 2020 season would be delayed because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fireflies, the Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, continued to prepare for a rescheduled opening night, revising and updating health and safety procedures, according to the release.
“Despite common misconceptions, the Fireflies are not subsidized by Major League Baseball or the New York Mets,” Katz said. “The team, like thousands of other small businesses, is struggling because of the current circumstances. It will be a challenge to determine how we manage our organization during a span of 19 months between Fireflies games, but we have the right team together to make the best of a difficult situation.”
Season ticket holders, groups and corporate partners will be contacted in the coming days with options, the team said. Individual tickets purchased for any 2020 game can be exchanged for any 2021 game once that schedule is available.
“We have been communicating with our key stakeholders throughout the delay,” Katz said. “We had remained cautiously optimistic that there would be a modified season in 2020, but we now know that will not be the case.”
Segra Park has been hosting limited gatherings, including weekend dining and state American Legion baseball games, following local and national health guidelines.
“We opened Segra Park as a weekend restaurant on May 30 and have seen crowds grow every week,” Katz said. “We’re currently hosting SCALB baseball games every Tuesday and Thursday night through the end of July. We know that our community will return home to Segra Park and we’re ready to welcome them back. The events will grow when it is safe and appropriate for larger gatherings, and there’s nothing we want more than to see smiling faces at the ballpark once again.”