Western Canadian Baseball League’s 2021 season to proceed

Lethbridge, AB – For the first time in Western Canadian Baseball League history, all players will be from Canada!

“The long-standing league, with a history dating back over 80 years, is excited to put this unique product on the field this summer for Canadian players,” League President Kevin Kvame commented on this major development.

After ongoing discussions and a meeting earlier this week, governors agreed this move would be a real opportunity to showcase how much the game has grown and developed in training top-notch baseball players and students in Canada. The league has also announced that non-Canadian players that had been recruited have been informed that it is unlikely that we will be able to resolve border issues in time for the 2021 season and have allowed those players to seek playing opportunities elsewhere.

“While we’re extremely disappointed that we won’t be seeing US and other foreign players as we would in a normal season, we are confident that the quality of Canadian athletes who play this great game at an extremely-high, competitive level will perform for their respective teams,” Kvame added. “In addition, we felt it vital to let our significant number of foreign players know that the window and opportunity to get them to our 2021 clubs is becoming too tight and we want them to have the opportunity to adjust their plans given the current health restrictions in Canada.”

The league has also announced that the 2021 season will not feature all eleven of its member franchises. The Okotoks Dawgs (2 teams), Lethbridge Bulls, Sylvan Lake Gulls and Edmonton Prospects have committed teams consisting of Canadian talent. The Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss the options available to them and will decide in the coming weeks. And unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes, the Swift Current 57’s, Regina Red Sox, Weyburn Beavers, Moose Jaw Miller Express and Brooks Bombers have regrettably made the difficult and heartbreaking decision to wait until 2022 to return to the field.

“Just like 2020, the WCBL is aware of the logistical differences between communities in the league and those logistics may result in some franchises having to make the difficult decision to accept an emergency leave of absence,” Kvame said. “However, we also feel it is important to provide a platform for our strong Canadian talent that needs to continue to develop this summer and, as such, we have assembled key franchises who can pull off this endeavour.”

Kvame also noted that the decisions have been made in the best interests of players, coaches, staff, officials and fans. He adds the teams are eager to bring baseball back to each community as quickly and safely as possible, with government and health authority consent, as baseball is a part of the fabric of our communities and it’s vital to provide a safe outlet for our world-class athletes.

“The franchises and teams that have committed to this unique 2021 season realize the challenges ahead,” Kvame said. “Fan capacities are uncertain and will likely be very limited to start. However, we’re also optimistic that our message about baseball being a naturally socially-distanced game in an outdoor setting will take root and make for positive communities for those choosing to participate this summer.”

As for those teams that couldn’t take part, he’s optimistic they will continue to be stewards of the sport in their respective communities and will try to remain as involved as possible.

“I can tell you that no rock was left unturned by those teams that opted out,” Kvame added. “They have met, brainstormed, considered roster changes, and looked for funding that could have made it possible. But instead they will become, for one unforeseen season, fans and followers of the baseball teams who will take the field.”

The WCBL expects to release an updated schedule, details on the 2021 season, ticketing plans based on health authorities and additional information near the end of April.