Uncertainty, virus wipe out Valley League season
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Well-organized. Historically relevant. Loyalty up and down the I-81 corridor. A significant summer baseball league that was begun in 1897.
But not in 2020.
No collegiate baseball this summer in the Valley Baseball League of Virginia, an NCAA-sanctioned and Major League Baseball-sanctioned league of amateurs with remaining collegiate eligibility.
The health and welfare of the players, administrators, families that house the players and those who support the league’s 11 teams with their attendance outweighed the possibility of a disease-free season, and the 2020 campaign was cancelled in April.
One of 12 such leagues for college players spread across America, the Valley Baseball League weighed the unknown against the general welfare of any and all who have an allegiance to the long-lived league.
The crown jewel of all the collegiate summer leagues — the Cape Cod League — has also cancelled its 2020 season, while the other 10 leagues were still waiting as long as possible before making a decision on the fate of their seasons.
Charlottesville was the playoff champion in 2019 as the Tom Sox prevailed over Woodstock, Strasburg, Harrisonburg, Covington, New Market, Staunton, Winchester, Waynesboro, Purecellville and Front Royal to take the Linaweaver Cup that went to the playoff champion.
In the past, the league would be busy preparing for its 42-game season that began the Friday after Memorial Day and coasted into early August before the rapid-paced playoffs produced the champion.
There was a time not that long ago when every team in the league was located snug alongside I-81 or not too far away from the much-used ribbon of road that comes through the Shenandoah Valley to the West Virginia state line.
Recently, Covington, Front Royal, Charlottesville, Purcellville and Waynesboro have been league franchises — taking the place of league-abandoned towns like Luray, Elkton, Madison, Shenandoah, Craigsville, Aldie, Haymarket and Charles Town.
Even when colleges went to aluminum bats in order to lower expenses, the Valley Baseball League has maintained a wood-bat presence since 1993.
With reluctance, the league gave notice it wouldn’t try to out pitch, out hit or out field the world-wide virus.
But even in its announcement of possibly erring on the side of safety, the Valley Baseball League told its many followers it would be back in 2021, barring any similar circumstances.