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The long-expected decision to cancel the season was announced on Tuesday as coronavirus outbreaks escalate.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Idaho Falls Chukars outfielder Amalani Fukofuka slides safely into second base during the 2017 All-Star Game at Ron Tonkin Field between the Pioneer League and Northwest League's top players.The minor league baseball season for 2020 has been canceled.

National publication Baseball America broke the news on its website Tuesday morning, June 30. It was formally announced Tuesday afternoon.

The decision was widely expected but still comes as a disappointment for fans, players, coaches, broadcasters, stadium workers, team owners and others who look forward each year to the baseball season.

Locally, the cancellation of the season means the Hillsboro Hops and other Northwest League teams won't take the field in 2020. The season had previously been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"While we are extremely disappointed to lose a season of baseball and time with our fans this summer, we understand that this was not an easy decision for anyone to have to make," said Hillsboro Hops President K.L. Wombacher in a statement.

The Hops would have been defending their championship title this season. They defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils in five games to clinch the Northwest League's top honors last September.

As Baseball America has reported, however, the Northwest League may look radically different in 2021. Negotiations are taking place between Major League Baseball and the minor leagues to overhaul the minor league system, eliminating perhaps more than 40 team affiliations and likely doing away with the Class A Short Season level, to which the Northwest League belongs.

Baseball America reported Tuesday that the Northwest League may move to a full-season format, starting play in April rather than in June.

With a relatively new stadium — Ron Tonkin Field was built for the Hops' arrival in Hillsboro in 2013 — and among the best attendance of any short-season team, the Hops are not considered a likely candidate to be eliminated from the affiliated minor leagues. But it is not yet clear how or whether they will be affected by the proposed reorganization, which is expected to be finalized sometime this fall or winter.

Wombacher said Tuesday the Hops are "very confident in our long-term future in Oregon and that the changes resulting from the new (Professional Baseball Agreement) will be very positive for the Hops organization and for Hops fans."

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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