While the MLB owners and players continue to exchange proposals regarding the resumption of their baseball season, the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball announced today their intention to begin an abbreviated 2020 regular season on July 3rd. Six of the league’s 12 teams will participate and play in hub cities to reduce travel. One of those hubs will be at the Ballpark Commons in Franklin, meaning that there will be live professional baseball this summer on the south side of Milwaukee county — with fans able to attend.
The @AA_Baseball has announced plans to play a 6-team, 60-game season starting July 3 in three locations, with fans in attendance. Hub cities will include @FMRedHawks, @MKEMilkmen & @canaries. pic.twitter.com/w9ZxjG8Jkt— American Association (@AA_Baseball) June 12, 2020
The American Association typically plays a 100-game schedule that was slated to begin this year on May 19th before the COVID-19 pandemic put things on hold. Instead, the league will play a 60-game season featuring the St. Paul Saints, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, Sioux Falls Canaries, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Chicago Dogs, and our local Milwaukee Milkmen. The games will be played out of three hub stadiums to reduce travel — Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, North Dakota, Sioux Falls Stadium in South Dakota, and the Ballpark Commons in Franklin. The exact schedule has not yet been released (coming next week), but each team will be able to play 42 out of 60 games at their “hub” stadium. The Milkmen will be joined at the Ballpark Commons by the Chicago Dogs. The option is also available for the “road” teams in each hub to resume playing games at their own stadiums depending on how local coronavirus restrictions continue to evolve.
ROC Ventures and the Milwaukee Milkmen released their readiness plan for a return to play on May 22nd after receiving local government approval. This includes a “socially distant” seating plan to allow for plenty of space between groups, an emphasis on cashless payments, increased cleanings and hand sanitizing stations, and health screenings prior to entry to the stadium, among several other precautions and preventative measures. Tickets are not yet on sale but more information will be available here when the schedule is officially announced.
The 2020 American Association will feature some rules variations such as the elimination of service time classification restrictions and a draft of players from non-participating clubs (Cleburne Railroaders, Gary-Southshore RailCats, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, Texas Airhogs, and Kansas City T-Bones) in order to allow the top players in the league the opportunity to compete. Following the conclusion of the 60-game regular season September 10th, the teams with the top two records will face off in a five-game series to determine the American Association champion.
According to a statement from American Association Commissioner Joshua Schaub, “We are very happy to be able to return professional baseball to our fans, albeit in a different fashion than usual. We look forward to opening up our season on July 3 for a summer of high-level professional baseball and bringing America’s Pastime back to the fans.”
Piloted by first-year manager Anthony Barone, the current 28-man offseason roster for the Milwaukee Milkmen features three players who have previously appeared in MLB, six players with Triple-A experience, four players with Double-A experience, three with high-A experience, two players who have played full-season A-ball, and three players who appeared at the short-season or rookie-level of the affiliated minor leagues. “Spring Training” will begin on June 25th, and all active American Association teams will have to pare down to a 23-man active roster by Opening Day on July 3rd.