Mission Valley Mariners baseball is a go for 2020 season

by Whitney England
Daily Inter Lake | June 1, 2020 2:24 PM

This weekend the Mission Valley Mariners are poised to take the field after a whirlwind of uncertainty regarding the upcoming season flowed across the league over the last couple of months.

The Montana American Legion sponsored baseball team out of Polson has adjusted its game schedule and will kick off the season Friday. This year the Mariners have both an A and B squad, and the team roster consists of 21 kids.

Although the National American Legion dropped its sponsorship of all baseball leagues for this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Montana American Legion Baseball decided to continue sponsorship as a separate entity not endorsed by the national association.

“The coaches, we were going to play under the American Legion or under our own little league this year, but Montana American Legion voted that they would still be in the sponsorship with us,” Mission Valley Mariners head coach Brad Fisher said.

The Montana-Alberta league has a class AA, A and B with over 60 teams. The teams in Montana will compete this year, but due to border closures the baseball teams from Canada that usually play in the Montana-Alberta League cannot play. For the Mariners, that means they will not play against Cranbrook, British Columbia this season.

Fisher explained that he did not have to shuffle games around too much, the games on their schedule missed earlier in the season are simply cancelled. However the season was extended two weeks longer in the fall, as they pushed district tournaments back, and Fisher scheduled a few more games with that extension. There will not be a regional tournament this year and the latest date the league is allowing games to occur is Aug. 9. The A squad will play a 31-game season, with the B team playing 24 games.

Spectators will be allowed at the games as well, which was another question that arose while devising the plan for this summer’s baseball season. Fisher said fans may sit with family members, but otherwise are expected to remain six feet apart to comply with the current Centers for Disease Control guidelines. He also mentioned the kids will need to be spaced out in the dugout and bullpen, while taking health precautions into account.

“We’re not going to be shaking hands and doing all that will the opponent,” Fisher said. “Probably rather just a tip of the cap or something like that.”

At least baseball is an easy game to play while remaining distanced from each other, and Fisher said the kids are thrilled to just be playing outside.

“There’s lots of room out there; the kids are just excited to be out and doing something,” Fisher said. “They’ve been sitting at home the last couple of months, the schools are locked down, they can’t get into the weight rooms, this and that… So they’re dying to do something.”

This will be Fisher’s first year as the head coach of the Mariners, however he has been assistant for the last three years. He will manage the team alongside his assistant coach Drew DuMont.

The Mariners return all but three players from their Western A district champion team last season.

“We’ve got a semi-young group, but I think we’ll be pretty competitive,” Fisher said.

For the first games of the season, the A squad will travel to Whitefish Friday evening, competing against the Glacier Twins at 4 p.m. and the B squad hosts two games in Polson, playing Eureka at 1 p.m. Saturday and the Missoula Mavericks B team at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Reporter Whitney England may be reached at 758-4419 or wengland@dailyinterlake.com