Wait till the year after next year.
That’s the message the Alaska Baseball League sent Thursday to the Fairbanks Goldpanners, a league founder that left the league in 2015 but now wants back in.
The five-team league turned down a request by the Goldpanners to rejoin the league in 2021, but said membership could come in 2022.
“The main reason being because of the economic downturn caused by COVID 19,” league president Chris Beck said in a Facebook post. “The league is looking towards 2022 as the year the Panners could potentially return and will use this summer to have the Panners play all the league members in an effort to jump-start the six-team league in 2022.”
The Goldpanners helped create the ABL in 1974 and has a rich history that includes seeing multiple players move on to Major League Baseball.
The Goldpanners predate the ABL by more than a decade — they began play in 1960 as a barnstorming team.
In 2015 they decided to go solo, largely so they could play an independent schedule allowing them to participate in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Kansas, which starts before the ABL season ends.
Other teams weren’t happy about the decision. “They’re shafting us as a league,” one general manager said at the time.
The ABL currently has five teams: The Anchorage Glacier Pilots, the Anchorage Bucs, the Kenai Peninsula Oilers, the Mat-Su Miners and the Chugiak Chinooks.
The league sat out the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]