On Monday, Northwoods League baseball teams stationed in Michigan announced their plans to finally kick off the 2020 season, kickstarting the sport for the first time this year at any level in West Michigan.
These teams include the Kalamazoo Growlers, Battle Creek Bombers and Traverse City Pit Spitters, which all announced that they would begin the 2020 campaign on July 1.
In addition to these existing teams, a few new squads will be added to the mix to create a more robust schedule. The Kalamazoo Growlers organization launched a second team called the Kalamazoo Mac Daddies while the Pit Spitters created two additional Traverse City-based teams in the Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears.
The modified season will limit — and even eliminate — travel.
The Growlers, Mac Daddies and Bombers will play each other in a 60-game season with a round robin format. The season will see 40 games at Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo and 20 at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, both of which will be filled to far less than half capacity.
In Traverse City, all of the 57 season games will be played at Turtle Creek Stadium. When the season kicks off, the Traverse City organizations will only allow 500 fans per game.
“I’m really excited about what we rolled out in Traverse City today,” said Pit Spitters CEO Joe Chamberlin. The Pit Spitters are owned by the same group as the West Michigan Whitecaps, putting Chamberlin at the helm of both teams.
“I think it’s a creative way to make baseball work this summer. So far, the reaction has been really positive and really strong.”
The winners from each territory will meet for an end-of-the-season playoff series.
All the organizations have extensive COVID-19 preparedness plans in place and will feature measures ranging from the elimination of self-serve drinks and buffet food to strategic seating arrangements to ensure fans can properly distance themselves from one another.
The Growlers take on the Mac Daddies and the Pit Spitters will face the Resorters to kick off action on July 1.
As for Chamberlin’s Whitecaps of Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League, the organization continues to wait for its marching orders from Major League Baseball.