This coming Friday, we will have professional baseball in Utica as the United Shore Professional Baseball League has decided to begin their 2020 season despite southeastern lower Michigan still being in Phase 4 of the COVID-19 reopening plan.
The hope what the Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer would move the entire state to Phase 5 of the COVID-19 reopening plan by July 4, but that is not going to happen.
USPBL owner founder and CEO Andy Appleby spoke to Tony Paul of The Detroit News on Tuesday night and broke the news that his league will begin playing games this coming Friday. Appleby said that the league will go on while abiding by Whitmer’s Phase 4 restriction of fewer than 100 people in the stands.
From The Detroit News:
“We’re excited to get started,” Andy Appleby, the league’s founder and CEO, told The Detroit News on Tuesday night, hours after he informed his staff, players and coaches that the season is about to get underway.
“We know that we’ve got a very small window here with the weather.”
“We think we can set that example for others,” Appleby said. “If we do it well, we think we can pave the way.”
The USPBL consists of four teams (Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, Utica Unicorns and Westside Wooly Mammoths) and is played at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, Michigan.
When the first pitch is thrown, the USPBL will become the first professional sports league to play a game in Michigan since the sporting world was turned upside down in mid-March.
Appleby told Paul that if Michigan does not eventually move to Phase 5, which would allow around 1,000 fans in the stands, he would have to shut the season down.