FORT WAYNE (Network Indiana) — Minor League Baseball did not happen this year because of the pandemic. However, it will return for most teams in 2021. That includes the Fort Wayne TinCaps, South Bend Cubs and Indianapolis Indians.
“The three teams in the Hoosier state have passed the first few bars, or hurdles, and we’re on the right track,” said Mike Nutter, the president of the TinCaps.
He says each team received invitations from their big-league affiliate on Wednesday, meaning more than likely, the TinCaps will still be an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the South Bend Cubs will be affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, and the Indianapolis Indians will continue to be an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Minor League Baseball is making some restructuring plans for 2021 — something they planned on doing even before the pandemic, according to Nutter. In the middle of all the reshuffling, some teams and communities did not receive invitations to return, meaning they might no longer exist.
“Your heart breaks for the workers, the community, the people that have grown up going to games, and on field trips and things like that,” Nutter said.
One of the teams that didn’t receive an invitation to return was the Kane County Cougars, who was in the same league as the Fort Wayne TinCaps and South Bend Cubs, and where Nutter got his start.
Also as a part of the restructure, the TinCaps and South Bend Cubs both learned they will be in the “High-A” level of Minor League Baseball’s tier system, which is one step closer to the major leagues. The levels from top to bottom are AAA, AA, High-A, and Low-A.
“Every year in Fort Wayne, we’ve always been at the low-A level,” Nutter said. “So it’s a nice opportunity to get moved up a level, and it just means to us, we think, a little bit better baseball.”
Nutter uses the words “excited,” “hopeful,” and “optimistic” to describe the feeling knowing that they’ll be back in action. He says they lost 85% of their normal revenue with the 2020 season being canceled.
However, there are still a lot of details to work out and questions to be answered, including if, or when, fans will be able to attend.
“As we sit here, we don’t have a schedule yet, and that’s okay, because if we did, we wouldn’t know how many tickets we would be able to sell, capacities, things like that,” he said.
So, Nutter says the best way to support your local team right now is to go their team store and buy someone a holiday gift.