The Kansas Collegiate League Baseball announced on Tuesday they are canceling the 2020 season.
"Following Governor Kelly's announcement regarding the reopening of our state in phases, the league took extensive measures and time to thoughtfully dissect all the possible options for our summer season," said Sheldon Howell, league commissioner. "Logistically, this time line would allow us to postpone the start of the season; however, the unpredictability and potential for continued date changes will not allow the league to guarantee our players the experience we strive to provide."
The Sunflower League, which includes Newton, El Dorado, Hutchinson and others, has postponed play until mid June.
The KCLB joins the multitude of amateur leagues from around the nation making the decision. The famous Cape Cod league canceled the 2020 season late in April, its first time without play since World War II. The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League canceled its season on May 4.
"For the league, our objective will always be to provide the experience of summer baseball to its fullest capacity," Howell said. "This experience includes host families, the sense of community, engaging with our young athletes and spectators who attend games. the new restrictions and guidelines will not allow us to provide this experience in 2020. With the design of summer baseball and bringing in athletes from all over the country, the decision has been strongly discouraged by the state to proceed with a league like ours given COVID-19."
Formerly known was the Walter John Johnson League, the KCLB was established in 1999. The league gets awarded multiple berths into the historic NBC World Series. Last year, Augusta’s Kansas Cannons finished third place.
"This decision was made after several meetings involving all league owners and managers. Participants were allowed to voice any concern as well as talk through potential solutions to our logistical obstacles," Howell said. "Ultimately, the decision was made, by votes, to cancel the summer season with the athletes and coaches safety at the forefront of our minds. The uncertainty of field availability, concern for the safety of our host families and communities, and no confirmed timelines for regular and post season schedules were all key factors."
The Cannons were scheduled to play the Liberal Bee Jays on June 5 at the new Riverfront Stadium in Wichita.
The KCLB consists of nine teams: Kansas (Augusta) Cannons, Clearwater Outlaws, Kansas (Wichita) Curve, Park City Rangers, Valley Center Mud Daubers, Liberal Bee Jays, Dodge City A's, McPherson Pipeliners and the Wellington Heat.
For now, the league will put its focus on the 2021 season and a potential return to the NBC World Series berth for all KCLB teams.