EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Only one day after the Evansville Otters baseball season was cancelled by the Frontier League, team owner Bill Bussing reflects on how this decision affects the entire franchise as a whole.
Bussing has owned the Evansville Otters since 2001. However, he’s never ever had an offseason last this long.
“It’s unprecedented,” Bussing said. “We were not prepared for it. I don’t know that any teams were. Most of the affiliated minor league teams have decided not to play, and I think the majority of the minor league independent teams have decided not to play.”
While the Bussing says this won’t break the franchise, he says it certainly hasn’t been easy.
“It’s a blow because we rely on concession revenue, advertising revenue to survive,” Bussing said. “We have attempted to keep our staff intact. We’ve reduced hours, but we have reduced the size of the sales staff temporarily. Some of our employees have been furloughed. We hope that the entire staff can come back for the 2021 season.”
While for some players, coming back in 2021 may not be a guarantee. Otters pitcher Tyler Vail spent the offseason getting ready for another season in Evansville.
“This could be like the last straw for some guys, where they’ve worked so hard or they had injuries during the offseason,” Vail said. “Then they come back and obviously there’s no season, and then they begin to resume working and then they’re making good money better than baseball. So I definitely don’t blame them for calling it or retiring. Also, this could work the other way, where guys who need time to rest, or maybe mentally they’re on the fence about playing, so maybe this time off could help them.”
“The window of opportunity in baseball, especially independent baseball is very small,” Otters manager Andy McCauley added. “It’s going to end some people’s careers.”
Despite this lost year, Bussing says the Otters will return to the field next season.
“We’re survivors,” Bussing said. “We plan to be back next season. It’ll be our 27th season in Evansville, but our 26th on the field.”