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MLB consolidation leaves Lake Monsters season up in the air

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 3:44 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Tired of winter yet? Spring training has begun for major league ballplayers, but questions remain if will we see baseball in Burlington this year?

Last year’s Lake Monsters season was canceled because of coronavirus, but a consolidation of the minor league system leaves the future of pro-baseball this summer still in question.

The fields may be covered with snow but the sounds of baseball are still here in Vermont. “We are predicted for a foot of snow and we are still in here getting after it,” said Dan French, an instructor at the Strike Zone, a training facility in Essex where athletes of any age get a chance to work on their skills for the diamond year-round

“It’s really nice to come inside, especially since we have such a long winter and can’t do anything to keep ourselves warm and active in the off-season,” said Noah Young, a senior at Milton High School.

But for those with major league dreams or folks looking to watch from the bleacher seats, it’s still unclear if the Lake Monsters will field a team due to restructuring of the minor leagues. Vermont will not have professional affiliation this year and the team says it’s still unclear if they will play ball at Centinal Field this summer. It would be the first time in 27 years that Vermont won’t have a presence with majors.

Senator Bernie Sanders has been among lawmakers pushing to save minor league baseball. “It’s what community is about. I want to make sure that small towns and cities all over this country continue to enjoy minor league baseball,” Sanders said.

“Unsettling, because I grew up going to the Lake Monsters games every weekend. It was fun,” Young said.

“I grew up here in Richmond, so the Lake Monsters were a pretty big part our baseball culture as kids growing up. Honestly, it’s quite sad to hear with the kind of historic background that Centennial field has,” French said.

And the impact would be felt not just by hard-core baseball fans, games have been a staple of many family’s summer entertainment as well. French believes that people will hear the crack of the bat at Centennial this summer, but it just might look different. “I know those guys work very hard to maintain their brand and I know that they are going to come up with one way or another -- depending on if it’s professional or collegiate, travel or recreation -- I know they are going to find some way to hopefully utilize that field,” he said.

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