BANGOR – Summer league baseball has been integral part of the growth of athletes playing America’s pastime. While there will be no official summer leagues this year, local coaches are committed to giving athletes an outlet to play the game.
The wait has been a long one getting back to a normal sports schedule, but this summer baseball coaches are hoping for any semblance of a season while they have the opportunity.
“If there’s a COVID spike or Governor Mills feels like things aren’t going in the direction that they need to that would be a quick shutdown for us,” said Motor City junior Legion head coach Ryan Lincoln. Baseball will be played this summer at the local level, even without the governance of American Legion, Little League, or any national organization. Scott Cournyear, coach of the Midcoast (Belfast) Legion baseball team has been at the center of creating the Summer Independent Baseball League. The league will be organized to mirror the split between junior and senior Legion divisions, with 19U teams and 17U teams. Each team is expected to have at least 12 regular season games to be eligible for the playoffs, Cournyear is hoping to schedule each team 14 regular season games. Play will start on June 23, and a playoff tournament is expected to be held in early August. Players, coaches, and parents will sign a COVID-19 waiver acknowledging they are putting themselves at higher risk, while the league is instituting sanitation and physical distancing measures.
One team that is expected to be a part of the league is Motor City..representing Hampden, Old Town, Bangor and northern Maine. While Motor City players won’t be defending their 2019 Junior Legion state championship this summer, their coach says he’s happy to be playing at all. “Kind of hoping to come back in and have that feeling for once of having something to defend, going back to back, unfortunately it’s in a little bit different of a setting and not going to be the same,” said Lincoln.
Lincoln said he expects no shortage of kids to try out for the team next week. His major issue, like some other teams, is finding a home field to play on when cities and schools have blocked their fields from being used. “[I’m] kind of keeping it a dark secret, that way people don’t step on my toes so I have a place to practice but its been tough,” said Lincoln.