ELLSWORTH — Hopes to see games played at diamonds across the state this summer have taken a further hit following two recent cancellations.
No Little League baseball or softball champions will be crowned this year after state administrators made the decision Friday to cancel the 2020 state tournament. The American Legion season is also a no-go after the American Legion National Association announced Monday it would be canceling all games across the country.
The cancellations are the latest sporting campaigns to be wiped off the calendar as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sports across America have been on hold since mid-March as communities, states and the country at large implement social distancing guidelines and urge citizens to stay at home.
The loss of the Little League state tournament follows Little International’s April 30 decision to cancel the 2020 World Series and regional tournaments. The decision marks the first time in the organization’s 73-year history that the event will not be held.
As of Monday, leagues have been eligible to hold their own regular season campaigns at their own discretion. Yet with restrictions on gatherings still in place in Maine, Little League baseball and softball remain on hold in Hancock County and other communities throughout the state.
“We would love nothing more than to be able to announce a start date for our season, as this is the best time of the year. … We miss the kids greatly,” Ellsworth Little League Marketing Manager Lyndsy Clough wrote in a Facebook post late Monday morning. “However, our first priority must be the safety and health of our players, coaches, volunteers and spectators.”
Whereas Ellsworth Little League and others locally can still hold out hope for an abbreviated season, such is not the case at the American Legion level. American Legion teams, which consist of players who were between 13 and 19 years of age at the start of the calendar year, must instead wait until at least 2021 to return to the diamond.
In Maine, the American Legion circuit consists of 16 sponsored teams from across the state. The Hancock County-based Trenton Acadians tied their best-ever tournament finish last year as they ended a 21-year state title game drought en route to a runner-up finish.
Teams may still choose to organize 2020 seasons, but if they do so, their campaigns will not be recognized under the American Legion banner. That, head coach Josh Jackson told The Ellsworth American, means the Acadians’ season is effectively “off the table.”
“There are a lot of hurdles and obstacles to overcome before anything could happen,” Jackson said. “The main goal for all is to keep the athletes, staff and families all as safe and healthy as possible so we can all get back to life as it was as quickly as possible.”