SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When you stand in the middle of Hammons Field these days, one thing catches your attention before anything else: the silence.
It’s eerie, uncomfortable, and for the Springfield Cardinals: deafening.
“It’s sad,” General Manager Dan Reiter said. “I think the ballpark empty is one of the saddest things that I can imagine after being around it for 15 years. We wish we had fans. We wish we had smiling faces, and we don’t.”
For the last three months the home of the Springfield Cardinals, like 260 other minor league ballparks, has sat empty and quiet.
On Tuesday, that silence became official with the first ever complete cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season.
“I just found out this morning and even though I was expecting it, it’s still kind of an emotional day.”
The news comes with more than just disappointment, though.
It comes with real consequences: as many players see their development halted.
“They’re people following a dream. If there dream is to be in the big leagues, they will do everything in their power to keep developing. We hope that for them too. But you are speaking to something that’s very true. There’s going to be a very large ripple effect.”
Meanwhile, Springfield is thrust into a tough financial spot
“It marks a really dire situation for 2020. We have a lot of the expenses just for operating this building without having the revenue of fans. Ultimately, that’s the largest difference between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. They’re still able to have revenue streams from television contracts. We will be looking on what we can do to cut expenses and to try to stay as lean as possible.”
But the good news is, Springfield will still be hearing this sound much sooner than most.
“I think compared to other minor league teams, we do feel very fortunate. We are excited that Hammons Field is going to be utilized to benefit the St. Louis Cardinals. We’re happy that we’re going to be hosting their taxi squad. We don’t know exactly what that entails yet, but it does help us. We’ve said for a long time that Minor League Baseball, we exist to better our big league club and we exist to better our community.”
So for now, Hammons switches from home of Springfield to a second home for St. Louis.
In hopes of helping the big league birds claim another World Series while bringing a little sound back to the ballpark.