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Tri-State League won’t play in 2020 – The Collinsville Press
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Tri-State League won’t play in 2020

Second baseman Taylor Riley of Canton tries to tag out Winsted runner Devin Warren before throwing to first base to get the out in a Tri-State League game in Canton last May.

TORRINGTON, May 17, 2020 – The Tri-State Baseball League has cancelled their 2020 season due to the challenges of trying to play with the COVID-19 coronavius pandemic infecting and killing people around the world.

“We waited as long as possible in hopes of having a season,” Tri-State League commissioner Ed Gadomski said on Saturday, one day before the scheduled opening day of the 2020 Tri-State season. “Things would have to dramatically improve to even consider a shortened season. It’s just not going to happen in the next couple of months.”

The Tri-State League, which has 19 teams in Connecticut and New York, dates back to 1934. The Canton Crushers, who call Bowdoin Field home, have played six seasons in the league.

“In respect to our essential health care workers still working the front lines during this national pandemic – it simply is the right thing to do,” Gadomski said. “Concerns of health for everyone involved is simply not worth the risk.”

The risk of not having insurance or a player covered for a COVID-19 related issue was the final straw. Teams would have had to ensure many safety and social distancing protocols to play.

It was unknown if an insurance company would cover a COVID-19 related claim from a baseball game.

Gadomski asked the league’s insurance company if a player would be covered if they came down with COVID-19 and said they got it from playing baseball. Gadomski said the insurance agent told him,” I can’t answer that. We just don’t have enough information about it and we haven’t had a claim for corona just yet.”

“Without having proper insurance coverage there is no way we can take the field,” Gadomski said.

It would have been a different experience on the field. The league was working on what they would need to do to play to ensure social distancing and the safety of the players, umpires and fans. They would have had to have:

  • Health screening all on field personnel (players, coaches, umpires) prior to each game.
  • Provide hand sanitizer on the team bench.
  • Remove stands or block off bleachers to force spectators to bring their own chairs and practice social distancing.
  • Make sure restroom facilities are cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis.
  • No refreshment stands due to the challenge of social distancing for the workers.
  • Reduce use of shared equipment and have a protocol for sanitizing equipment after each game. Each player would also need their own helmet and bat.
  • Practice social distancing in dugouts and on benches.
  • Limit overlap in schedules when more than one game is scheduled on the same field so that players and fans arriving for the next game do not mix with those from the earlier game.
  • Eliminate pre-game, post-game and in game huddles and practice social distancing in team meetings.
  • Eliminate handshake at the end of the game.

Gadomski said there was also the question of where to station the home plate umpire. Would he be calling balls and strikes from behind the plate or behind the pitcher as is sometimes seen in some youth baseball contests?

Last August, the Terryville Black Sox won their first-ever Tri-State League championship with a 2-0 sweep over the Naugatuck Dogs in the best-of-3 championship series. The Black Sox (27-6) and Tri-Town in Litchfield had the best regular season record (16-2) in the league last year. Terryville shared the Stan Musial state championship with Waterbury’s Blasius Chevrolet and played in the AACA Northeast Region World Series.

Last summer, Canton finished with five wins. The Crushers scored the most runs in a single game in team history (17) in a 17-1 victory over Bristol on July 2. It also set the team record for largest margin of victory (16 runs).

2019 Tri-State League standings

Team League Overall
y-Terryville 16-2 16-2
y-Tri-Town (Litchfield) 16-2 16-2
y-Blasius Chev.-Wtby 14-4 14-4
y-Litchfield 14-4 14-4
y-Wolcott 10-7 10-7
y-Naugatuck 9-8 9-8
y-NW Connecticut-Falls Village 9-9 9-9
y-Bethlehem 9-9 9-9
y-Thunder Ducks-Prospect 9-9 9-9
y-Tribury-Middlebury 8-10 8-10
y-Burlington 7-10 7-10
y-Amenia 6-10 6-10
Winsted 6-11 6-11
Southington 6-12 6-12
Canton 5-13 5-13
Bristol 3-14 3-14
Torrington 2-15 2-15

y-clinched playoff berth

2019 Tri-State League postseason results

In the off-season, the league announced their 2019 All-Star team and other post-season awards. Shortstop Manny Cruz of Blasius Chevrolet in Waterbury was named the league’s MVP with Terryville’s Tony Patane winning the Silver Slugger award for the best hitter and Black Sox teammate Kody Kerski winning the Cy Young award for being the best pitcher in the league.

Other members of the All-Star team included Litchfield’s Tommy Johnson (catcher), Terryville’s Justin McCulloch (1B), Tri-Town’s Austin Patenaude (2B), Tri-Town’s Danny McCarty (shortstop), Naugatuck’s Brandon Slattery (3B), Terryville’s Andrew Hinckley (DH), Terryville’s Dan Livingston (pitcher) and outfielders Andrew Billig of Winsted, Connor Goggin of Blasius and Gavin LaValle of Terryville.

Team MVP awards went to Taylor Riley (Canton), Jerry LaPenta (Bristol), Pat Raymond (Southington), Andrew Billig (Winsted), Ty Morin (Burlington), Evan Devico (Tribury), Andrew Thresher (Amenia), Donny Eck (Thunder Duck), Ricky Descoteaux (Bethlehem), Jack McAuliffe (NW Connecticut), Ryan Plourde (Naugatuck), Brendan Clark and Matt Warren (Wolcott), Colin Dickenson (Litchfield), Manny Cruz (Blasius), Danny McCarty (Tri-Town), Justin McCulloch (Terryville) and Jimmy Lamana (Torrington).

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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