PORT ANGELES — The college-aged boys of summer will return to Civic Field June through August, and Port Angeles Lefties owner/coach Matt Acker discussed potential capacity restrictions, changes to the West Coast League’s postseason schedule and his squad’s need for host families at a recent Port Angeles Kiwanis Club meeting.
“The big wait has been the border with Canada, but we decided as a league last week that the 10 American teams will continue on [playing U.S. teams], and the Canadian teams will play each other this season,” Acker said.
The Lefties are expecting to begin play June 1 with an exhibition game and will open WCL play at Bellingham on June 4-6, before returning to face Corvallis at Civic Field June 7-9.
“Expect some occupancy restrictions,” Acker said. “I believe we will be at 50-percent occupancy by June 1 and full capacity come July. That’s the best time of year for us anyway, after the Fourth of July when the sun comes out.”
Port Angeles will be on the road for the Fourth of July but will be back for its longest homestand of the season, a nine- game stretch from July 16-25 and will close out the regular season with six games from Aug. 6-12.
Tickets aren’t on sale yet, mainly due to the uncertainty around allowed capacity.
“We will have 10-game packs, and general admission will be $5 and $20 for diamond club seats behind home plate,” Acker said. “We are still trying to figure out the configurations for seating. We don’t want to jump through the hoop of figuring out a 25-percent plan when 50-percent capacity is approved.”
And Acker said half of the league will get to host a postseason game under changes made to expand the playoffs.
“We’ve been pushing for this for years,” Acker said. “Eight of the 15 teams will make the playoffs, and the final four teams will go to one location and play a single-elimination tournament.”
With Major League Baseball’s decision to eliminate a number of minor league teams across the country and draft fewer college players coupled with COVID-19 keeping players at the college level, the level of talent on display is expected to rise this season.
“I would normally say we would be at a low-A level if we were with affiliated baseball, and now we are like a High-A,” Acker said. “Across the league the talent level is up.”
Host families for players have been hard to find so far, Acker said.
“We definitely need host families,” Acker said. “We are going to need 14 host families for the hitters for the whole season, and we are going to need host families for our two groups of pitchers. We will have our first group of pitchers through the first week of July, and the second group will come in the first week of July and leave the second week of August.”
Acker said the players are best in pairs.
“They are social by nature, have workouts to do, and its usually a motivator to have kids together. We haven’t had complaints about hosting kids, usually the host families are surprised by how much fun it is to have a player around, and they feel fortunate.”
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Acker also discussed his latest business venture: a new restaurant he’s launching called Roosevelt at the Wharf, located in the former Wine on the Waterfront space in the Port Angeles Wharf.
“The idea in my mind is McMenamins Bar in Olympia,” Acker said. “I have great memories of sitting at the bar as a kid with grandfather, and Olympia lawmakers would be in booths with curtains on them making deals. Went in when I was older, and it had a speakeasy vibe that Port Angeles doesn’t have.”
Acker described the feel the venue is hoping to capture.
“The inside is FDR, and the deck is Teddy,” Acker said.
A “seed-to-fork” menu is planned along with craft cocktails, spirits on tap and barrel-aged speciality drinks while the outside deck will feature pitchers of beer and wood-fire oven pizza.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or mcarman@peninsuladaily news.com.