West Linn Knights join Portland Pickles in summer league
Those in the area lamenting the lack of baseball this summer will be pleased to know that summer ball is returning to the Portland area for a short season later this summer.
The Wild Wild West League, composed of the Portland Pickles, their affiliate the Portland Gherkins, the Gresham Greywolves and West Linn Knights, is set to kick off in July and wrap up in August. For now, no fans will be allowed at games, though contests will be aired on Facebook and YouTube Live. Depending on reopening progress in the tri-county area, fans might be allowed later in the season.
The league is also waiting on more guidance on reopening to decide which venues to use for games.
The Pickles, Gherkins and Greywolves are collegiate wood bat summer teams, fielding college players from across the region to compete each year.
The West Linn Knights formed this year to compete in the Wild Wild West League. The Knights will be coached by Corvallis Knights coach Brooke Knight, who has a home in West Linn.
Other than the head coach, the West Linn Knights have no affiliation to the Corvallis Knights, whose season in the West Coast League was canceled this year (the Pickles are also part of the league and the Greywolves formerly were).
The West Linn Knights were named after Knight, who has helped the Corvallis Knights capture the West Coast League title seven of the 12 years he's led the team.
The idea to form the Wild Wild West League came from Pickles owners Jon Ryan and Alan Miller, who wanted baseball to continue this summer after the West Coast League's cancellation.
According to Knight, the teams expect to play 20-25 games over 30-35 days, Knight said.
Though the rosters haven't been set (they may be released later this week), Knight said players will mostly be local players home for the summer.
"It's encouraging. Everybody wants to get out and about, definitely the young men that are trying to develop their baseball careers and be the best they can be," Knight said.
According to Knight, the league is still working out whether scouts will be allowed to attend games, adding that he hopes they would be for the benefit of the local players trying to advance their careers. Knight said other summer collegiate leagues throughout the country are holding seasons this year, so it's important for local athletes to not be overlooked by scouts.
Knight said the league has a "laundry list" of safety protocols to keep players, coaches, umpires and everyone affiliated with the league safe. The league will institute strict sanitization practices and use of masks and social distancing possible, among other measures.
"We're doing everything we can to be prudent and responsible," he said.
According to Knight, there is plenty of interest from players in the area to make the four-team league work, maybe even enough for eight teams.
"But from a level of play standpoint, it's also really important that you keep it at an (advanced) level," he said.
When asked about where the rest of the West Linn Knights coaching staff will come from, Knight chuckled.
"There's no budget for coaching staff," he said. "It's on a volunteer basis to get back to the game and get back to giving direction and love and support to these players."
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