Minor League Baseball announced Tuesday it was canceling its season, and the Appy League was one of the victims. The season was supposed to have begun June 22 but had been on hold as the major leagues figured out how to restart after a coronavirus-related pause of their own.
Mark Davis, one of the biggest fans of the Kingsport Mets, took the proceedings especially hard.
“I wasn’t surprised by the news, but seeing it official makes it that much worse,” Davis said. “The writing was on the wall, and that became permanent today. It’s hard for me because K-Mets and Appy League baseball is my passion.”
Davis has been following the Mets for 20 years and has attended 804 games. He runs a Facebook page called Kingsport Mets: Fan Dugout and his Twitter handle is @kmetsfan.
“I’m invested in this game and extremely saddened we won’t be seeing guys from around the world living out their dream in our area,” he said. “Minor league baseball brings about a certain excitement you can’t get anywhere else. It’s that excitement and the closeness you get at this level that I will miss the most.”
Alicia Starnes, a Sullivan County commissioner, is also a baseball fan and says the area will take a certain economic hit without baseball. Other than that, she’s just plain saddened.
“I have been going to games for 35 years and this is the first time in those years that there is no baseball,” Starnes said. “I think it’s sad. I also wonder how this will affect the players. This is their dream. For some, it’s the only thing they know. It’s just sad.”
Clay Ramsey says he started attending K-Mets game with his dad in 2009 and not having baseball will create a void that will be difficult to fill.
“It was a great time for Dad and I to build that relationship, and to not have that anymore really hurts,” Ramsey said. “I understand why the shutdown was necessary this year based on the COVID-19 pandemic, but the timing is absolutely horrible. The Appalachian League was a major part of my summers. It’s devastating.”
Making the news even tougher to take is the possibility the league might never be back as we know it.
It’s been well reported the organizations that run major league baseball and the minors have been negotiating a new operating agreement. The current deal ends after this season, and leaked reports from the negotiations have indicated that MLB plans on eliminating as many as 42 minor league teams, including the entire Appalachian League.
Starnes sponsored a resolution in the Sullivan County Commission asking Major League Baseball to keep the Appalachian League intact.
“Even more discouraging that the 2020 season is canceled is the reality Appy League baseball may be gone forever,” Davis said. “I would urge others to reach out to their elected representatives and make their feelings known. The Appy League means so much to so many in our area, and it is worth fighting for.”
As it stands, the final game for the Kingsport Mets may have come on Aug. 28, 2019. It was a 9-7 loss to the Johnson City Cardinals, a result that eliminated Kingsport from playoff contention. They finished 34-34 last season after a down-to-the-wire pennant race.
“I was hoping to see the Appalachian League at least get a proper send off,” Ramsey said. “A last ride, if you will.”