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MLB, MILB cancel Drillers' Texas League season

MLB, MILB cancel Drillers' Texas League season

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#3 Jared Walker (IF - Tulsa Drillers) - 2019_0

Tulsa’s Jared Walker (center) celebrates after scoring a run in the Texas League Championship Series last Sept. 15 — the last pro game played at ONEOK Field until 2021. The Drillers are operating a team in the Texas Collegiate League this summer. TULSA WORLD file

For the first time since World War II, there won’t be any pro baseball in Tulsa or in any other Texas League city this year.

In a move that was expected for nearly two months, Minor League Baseball announced Tuesday that “Major League Baseball has informed Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season. As a result, there will not be a Minor League Baseball season in 2020.”

The Texas League won’t operate for the first time since 1943-45, when it was shut down because of World War II.

“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” MILB President and CEO Pat O’Conner said. “While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”

MILB, formerly known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, was founded in 1901.

The Drillers’ Texas League season was scheduled to open April 9 and close Sept. 7. If the season had been conducted as scheduled, the Drillers would have been playing their 79th out of 140 games on Tuesday. The Drillers are the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate.

It had been apparent since early May that minor league baseball was unlikely this year after Major League Baseball announced extensive health/safety protocols for resuming play this year.

That is why the Drillers, as well as TL franchises in Frisco and Amarillo and Pacific Coast League franchises in Round Rock and San Antonio, began to look into alternatives for baseball this summer. That led to them operating teams in the Texas Collegiate League, which began its 2020 season on Tuesday night.

The TCL is a wood bat league that gives top college players with eligibility remaining the opportunity to develop and showcase their skills in a minor league atmosphere.

“We are disappointed about today’s announcement, but we understand that these are unprecedented times for our country,” Drillers president/general manager Mike Melega said in a media release. “We know that our fans are also disappointed about the loss of this season, but we are already making plans to come back even better in 2021.

“In the meantime, we are excited to offer live, high-quality baseball with our team in the Texas Collegiate Baseball League.

“We appreciate the great support and understanding that we have received from our season-ticket members and sponsors. Without their support, these would be even more unsettling times for our franchise.”

Gallery: Tulsa Drillers host Texas League All-Star Game one year ago

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