Minor-league baseball season canceled on ‘a very sad day’

Feeling the effects of a national health crisis, minor league baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that the season has been canceled, effectively stripping San Antonio of one its most enduring traditions.

Flying Chanclas de San Antonio outfield work at Thursday's practice at Wolff Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, an entry in the Texas Collegiate League, will open play tonight in Amarillo. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It is the first time in 53 years that baseball fans in the Alamo City will not have their own professional team to cheer.

“This is news we expected, but it’s still a very sad day to know we won’t have professional baseball in San Antonio this summer,” Missions president Burl Yarbrough said. “We look forward to things getting better and know that Opening Day 2021 will be really special.”

In anticipation of the cancellation, the Missions in May moved forward with plans to host a team in the Texas Collegiate League. The team, known as the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio, will open a 30-game season Tuesday night.

San Antonio’s last summer without pro ball came in 1967 in the third year of a three-year stretch following the sale of the team to a group in Amarillo.

Pro ball returned to the Alamo City in 1968, with home games held at V.J. Keefe Field on the campus of St. Mary’s University.

It’s been played every summer since then, getting a boost in 1994 when the Missions moved to city-owned Wolff Stadium.

“We’ve been around since 1888 with only a few occasions without baseball,” Yarbrough said. “We’ll come back strong. Baseball fans in San Antonio have always supported us.”

Baseball has been in a holding pattern since March when the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of activity in spring training.

Last week, Major League Baseball announced a plan to return to play in a 60-game schedule that will start July 23.

But because of projected financial losses, MLB owners elected to scrap plans for a traditional minor league season.

MLB informed the minor league office that it would not provide minor league affiliates with players, meaning the end of any hopes for even a shortened season.

“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,” said MiLB president Pat O’Conner.

“While this is a sad day for many,” O’Conner added, “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.”