WISCONSIN — After pushing back opening day twice, southern Wisconsin’s premier men’s wood bat baseball league, Home Talent, shuttered sponsorship of the 2020 season in late June.
Teams are allowed to play exhibition games against each other, but the Home Talent League is not sponsoring a postseason or all-star game this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After months of following the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) and the effects it is having on our society, we have decided to cancel the 2020 season as a league,” HTL president Pat Reilly said in a statement on the league’s website. “Games can go as late into the summer as teams choosing to play exhibition games want them to. In short, we are not shutting down baseball, just HTL sponsorship for 2020.”
Opening Day was originally pushed back by more than a month to June, only for another delay to move it again to July 4 and 5.
Since that decision, teams have been playing exhibition games to get ready for the opener. Unfortunately, one team reported a case of COVID-19 two weeks ago.
“At that time, I proposed to the board that we should follow a three-strike rule and if that was reached it would be time to shut down sponsorship of the season and play-offs. We reached strike three two weeks later,” Reilly said.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Dane County rules meant 17 teams could not participate at their home field. Six teams, including defending champion Verona, also withdrew from playing this year prior to the league’s decision.
“If league play was started and a team or teams experience COVID-19 incidents there would be a two-week window before those teams could resume play. In an already shortened season that would be another impossible obstacle,” Reilly said.
The HTL Executive Board will meet again later this summer to discuss plans moving forward for 2021, according to Reilly. “Hopefully there will be a sense of what is normal by then and 2021 will be better than ever.”