PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Lefties did everything they could to try and play a truncated season this summer, but in the end, it wasn’t in the cards.
The West Coast League’s board of directors this week voted to cancel its 2020 season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions.
However, the league also committed to restarting in 2021 with opening day set for June 4, 2021.
Several teams in the WCL such as Bellingham, Victoria, B.C., and Kelowna, B.C., had already canceled their 2020 seasons due to the COVID virus. Lefties’ owner Matt Acker had been working on an idea for weeks to have a mini-league of WCL teams play at Civic Field in Port Angeles, but with the league’s cancellation, that proposal is finished.
“It’s not possible,” Acker said. “There talking about not going to Phase 3 [which allows sporting events] until maybe mid-July.”
Acker was confident that the WCL will be back in 2021, though some teams are taking a huge financial hit this season with no games. He also said the Port Angeles Lefties definitely will be back.
“I don’t think that’ll be an issue, I have no doubt in my mind,” he said.
Acker said he isn’t being hurt financially as badly as some other teams. He had concerns way back in January about the virus and how it might affect the league and was already being careful with expenditures.
“As far as the financial impact, mine is probably lower than some other people because I have to be careful. I don’t have as much money as other teams,” he said.
Port Angeles, Cowlitz, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima Valley were the final teams in the WCL to cancel.
The WCL’s Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox may attempt to play this summer as independent teams.
Acker said one thing he will personally do for revenue this summer is a mobile bar that he built for Lefties games. This bar, which is called “The Whiskey Wagon,” will be available beginning later this week for black parties or other events.
This week the West Coast League’s board of directors voted to cancel its 2020 summer collegiate season, due to pandemic-related safety guidelines and travel restrictions across Washington and Oregon. Concurrently, league members Cowlitz, Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla, and Yakima Valley are cancelling their respective seasons.
Among the teams beginning league play on June 4, 2021 will be an expansion club based in Nanaimo, B.C., about 50 miles north of Victoria.
“Yes, we’re heartbroken about 2020,” WCL Commissioner Rob Neyer said. “But we’re already looking toward 2021, with Nanaimo joining the league and playing at historic Serauxmen Stadium. And with more exciting news on the way, we’re confident that next summer will be our best yet.”
The WCL’s Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox still hope to play this summer as independent teams.
Sporting events cannot take place until Phase 3 COVID-19 restrictions are approved for local communities. Clallam and Jefferson counties hope to move to Phase 3 by the end of June, but there’s no guarantee the rest of Washington will be able to. Also, the border between the U.S. and Canada is closed until at least June 21 to nonessential travel.
The West Coast League is a summer wooden-bat featuring top college prospects. It gives prospects the opportunity to show what they can do with a wooden bat and to play before scouts. A number of Major League players, including the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger and Marco Gonzales, played wooden-bat league baseball.