The St. Cloud Rox baseball season is a tradition across the Greater Granite City Area. What is usually dubbed “Your Nine Inning Vacation” has been delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Rox who are a member club of the Northwoods League have been a St. Cloud staple since Vice President and Co-Owner Scott Schreiner purchased the club in 2012. But this summer things will be a bit different. UTVS News acquired a press release from the Northwoods League’s Office in Rochester about the pandemic.
“With fan, player and personnel safety as the primary consideration, the Northwoods League has been closely monitoring developments related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the various restrictions by governmental authorities that have been enacted as a result. Simultaneously, the League has been considering multiple scenarios that could be adapted to the dynamic environment in which we find ourselves so that where and when baseball can safely be played, it will be played.”
This Press Release was optimistic that the season could start up, but it noted the need to work with state and local governments before making an official decision.
“Each of those options are limited by the extension of stay at home orders in a given state, and when such an extension occurs in various states throughout the League footprint, each scenario must be adapted to fit the evolving circumstances. The League will continue to consider multiple scenarios as each state determines its policies, always predicated on the assumption that adequate safeguards can be put in place in ballparks in states where there are no restrictions on large gatherings in order to assure fan, player and personnel safety.”
These safety measures are important before the entire league can start up again. However, due to the growth of the league in the past few seasons there are more state governments to work with before coming to a decision. The Northwoods League is host to teams from North Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ontario, Canada. Even with all of these concerns Scott Schreiner is hopeful the team will play this season.
“The league has been kinda wait and see and that they are going to do whatever they can to get games in as long as its in a safe manor.” Schreiner continued, “it could be June 15th, it could be July 1st, it could be July 15th, but I don’t think we will go any later than July 15th then the season would be too short.”
Even through the complete change in how and when the season will be played Schreiner said that the team is preparing just like they would have opening day on May 29th.
“A lot of what we have been doing has been consistent with a normal year, trying to plan out as much as we can, finalizing different promotions, and communication with players, interns, and host families. So from my end it has been pretty similar.”
The Northwoods League is a popular summer destination for collegiate baseball players that are looking to go to the MLB. Some famous alumni of the league include names like Max Scherzer (2013 Cy Young Winner/Detroit Tigers), Ben Zobrist (2015 World Series MVP/Chicago Cubs), and former St. Cloud Rox player Mitch Garver (2019 Silver Slugger/Minnesota Twins). This season the want to play baseball is even more present with the NCAA’s decision to cancel all spring and summer sports for the 2020 season. Schreiner said that the players have shown an interest to get back on the diamond.
“The interest is at an all time high, they are eager to play. They are just waiting for the okay to play and to get out here. We hope that something will work out for them.”
Even with the want to get back to the “Nine Inning Vacation” as soon as possible. Schreiner and the Rox remain committed to keeping their players, fans, and staff safe. A statement on the Rox website from March 18th echos these commitments.
“Our primary goal is to provide a fun, friendly, inclusive and SAFE environment for all our fans, employees and players. In our efforts to continue with that mission, we’ve been monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation, tracking and following the guidance of state and local government, as well as the CDC and WHO, and working closely with the Northwoods League to understand how our 2020 season will be impacted.”