BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Minor League Baseball and independent league action has returned to Maryland following last year’s cancellations.

“People are in recovery, you know, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally. We all need this again,” Southern Maryland Blue Crabs general manager Courtney Knichel said. “People need something to cheer for, something to root for.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic canceled events from concerts to sporting events and baseball was no exception. Seasons for Maryland’s lower-level baseball teams were canceled in 2020.

“It was kind of surprising how painful it was. I think we all kind of knew the cancellation was coming, but when they announced it, it still felt like a shock,” Bowie Baysox season ticket holder Ken Renning said. “Fresh air here is better than fresh air at the porch at home.”

The Bowie Baysox, Aberdeen Ironbirds, and Delmarva Shorebirds—all Baltimore Orioles affiliates—returned to action this spring. The Frederick Keys lost its affiliation with the Orioles during the hiatus. The Keys and the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs play in independent leagues but are also back on the field.

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“There’s nothing like a baseball game—nothing,” Keys fan Jonnie Ferrell said at their opening night last month. “And, I got so excited when they took the top off the carousel.”

WJZ photojournalists Patrick Boquard (Aberdeen), Clint Jiras (Bowie), Allen Cork II (Delmarva), Cory Sellgren (Frederick), and CJ Alderson (Southern Maryland) talked to fans about the return of baseball to their communities.


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Paul Gessler