Greg Estes, a fan from Bristol, is trying to put together a letter-writing campaign to make sure the powers that be at least know what kind of interest there is in keeping the league around.
The future of the rookie-level league — with local teams in Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol, Elizabethton and Greeneville —appears bleak.
The contract between Major League Baseball and the minor leagues runs out after the 2020 season, and they have been negotiating a new working arrangement. All indications are that the new deal will include contraction of the minors. The Appy League is expected to be eliminated, according to reports.
“One phone call or one letter won’t get much anywhere, but I figured a league-wide effort where the fans of each team put a personal touch might have more of an impact or at least get their attention,” Estes said.
To that end, Estes wants everybody who would like to see the Appy League survive to write two letters: one to their team’s major league affiliate and one to MLB Commissioner Ron Manfred. The letters should be dated June 19.
Estes created a Facebook page called Save the Appalachian League. The letter-writing campaign is also on Facebook as an event. Addresses for the letters are on the Facebook page.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, it would be nice if each team got a thousand letters out from fans,” he said. “That would make the impact. It’s a matter of how many people I can reach.”
Estes says he emailed each Appalachian League team and forwarded them the link to the Facebook page.
“Sadly, none of them have gotten back to me, so I don’t know if they have thrown up the white flag or have their own plans,” he said.
The 2020 Appalachian League season was scheduled to begin June 22, but the league has been suspended indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. There has been talk that the minor league season on all levels is in jeopardy.
The major leagues still haven’t come up with a plan or a date to begin the season, which also has been delayed because of the pandemic.
Estes admits fans’ letters are unlikely to persuade the
decision-makers from changing their minds, but it’s worth a shot.
“I would rather try and fail than watch it go away and wonder what if,” he said.