The landscape for summer baseball has changed almost entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leagues across the nation shut down, forcing thousands of college baseball players to either relocate to a new league or not play at all.
The Expedition League in the Upper Midwest is playing baseball this season. Husker players Luke Boynton, freshman first baseman, and Quinn Mason, freshman pitcher, found a place to land, with the league’s Fremont Moo.
Both had their freshman year at Nebraska cut short by the pandemic.
“It definitely sucked, it happens or at least it happened to everybody,” Boynton said. “I’m just excited we are able to play and have all the new guys coming in.”
Boynton was scheduled to play this summer in Massachusetts. The Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) canceled its season almost immediately this spring as COVID-19 cases rose in the New York Area. Boynton was then set to play in a Georgia league, but that league too was canceled.
“I texted Coach Danny Marcuzzo and told him I needed to play somewhere this summer,” Boynton said. “He knew Fremont was playing, where a couple of teammates were, and I told him I wanted to go to Fremont. I was told two days before the season that I was going to be playing [with the Fremont Moo], and I got my butt down here and was ready to go.”
Marcuzzo is a Huskers volunteer assistant and camp coordinator. He is in charge of directing the players to summer leagues around the nation.
Mason dealt with a similar situation in the Northwoods League. He and teammate Kyle Perry had planned to play in Minnesota with the Duluth Huskies. As soon as the Northwoods cut several teams from summer play, Mason and Perry landed in Fremont.
“I ended up on the Moo the day the Huskies canceled their season,” Mason said. “Coach Shea Bennett called me up and asked if I wanted to play, I said heck yeah and it worked out.”
Bennett has been the Fremont Moo’s head coach in the two years of its existence. He is also the Midland University assistant baseball coach, where he has worked for the last six years.
Both players missed out on several months of playing time.
“The biggest thing is losing those three months of live at-bats, and I did get surgery back in April to get some metal plates taken out of my forearm which gave me a hiccup,” Boynton said. “But it is no excuse and I am just excited that I am out here playing again.”
“It gave me a little bit of a rest period for my arm, but it was hard to judge when to throw, how hard to throw. Mason said. “It was hard to know when the season was going to start back up for the summer.”
Boynton and Mason both say they are thankful that a team opened its doors to them, especially one so close to home.
Two young men taking full advantage of a bad situation.