EVERETT — On the same day it became official that the Everett AquaSox will not be playing games this season, the Everett Merchants’ season was also called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pacific International League, of which the Merchants are members, announced Tuesday the cancellation of the 2020 season.
“For the past several weeks, the league has discussed different contingency plans to save the season, including several different schedule drafts with varying start dates, but decided against moving forward considering how much uncertainty the near future holds,” PIL president Mike MacCulloch said in a press release. “We fully support the efforts that are being implemented to protect the health and safety of the community during these unprecedented times.
“This was an exceptionally difficult decision made … We hung on to hope for a shortened season, (but) the reality of our responsibility to the teams of people who make our season possible could not be met in the manner we felt necessary.”
The Merchants, a semi-pro team that typically features many college players and ex-college players with local ties, would have entered their 47th season under the leadership of coach Harold Pyatte.
“It’s such a shame there will be no baseball in Everett this summer,” Pyatte said. “We had the making of a very strong team. I was excited.”
The Merchants’ season typically begins around the start of June, but was delayed with the hope of being able to start the week of June 23 if Snohomish County was able to reach Phase 3 of the state’s re-opening plan. The date was then altered to July 6. With a recent spike in cases, it became obvious that the county would not be moving on from Phase 2 in the immediate future and games were not going to be able to take place.
“Playing games was contingent on Phase 3,” Pyatte said. “It leaves a void in what could have been. I feel so bad for the kids. We’ve had so much support from the community over the years. It’s a shame we weren’t able to provide baseball again.”
The Merchants have been playing baseball in Everett for nearly 50 years. In 1988, the team, led by Pyatte, won the National Baseball Congress Word Series, an annual gathering of elite collegiate and semi-pro teams from around the country.
As of Tuesday evening, the 86th NBC World Series was still scheduled to take place from July 27-Aug. 10 in Wichita, Kansas.
As for Pyatte, he says he has no plans to call it a career, despite the setback this season.
“I am planning to come back next year. I’m in pretty darn good health and I feel pretty good. I really want to continue to give the young guys a place to play in the summer.”