Minor League Baseball cancels West Michigan Whitecaps’ 2020 season

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The Whitecaps were expected to play 70 home games at Fifth Third Ballpark this season. Courtesy West Michigan Whitecaps

Minor League Baseball announced Tuesday that the West Michigan Whitecaps’ 2020 season was canceled.

Major League Baseball decided it will not provide its affiliated minor league teams with players for the 2020 season due to COVID-19. However, there will be 60 MLB games played this season, which is set to begin July 23, as opposed to the normal 162-game season.

“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,” Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O’Conner said. “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.”

The Whitecaps were expected to play 70 home games at Fifth Third Ballpark this season.

“West Michigan fans have been very good to us throughout the delay,” said Joe Chamberlin, CEO of the Whitecaps. “They’ve been encouraging and patient. We love them and miss them. Moving forward, and in typical Whitecaps style, you can bet we will be working on helping the community and having some fun while we prepare for 2021. Our job now is to build a bridge to next baseball season.”

The Whitecaps will focus on continuing to support the United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund. Recently, the organization collaborated with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Grand Rapids Drive and the West Michigan Sports Commission for “One Team For West Michigan” to help the community with COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitecaps manager Brayan Peña has been reading to children online and helping with online educational children’s events.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Chamberlin said. “But since none of us, including our fans, have never been in this space, we’re moving ahead with cautious optimism. This will be the first West Michigan summer without Whitecaps baseball in the last 26 years. It is tough to see that streak come to an end, temporarily, but we are already looking forward to what the 2021 season will have in store. I can promise you we will be ready for baseball, and we know our fans and this community will be, as well.”

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