After all the backbiting and fighting between billionaire owners and millionaire players, it was announced Tuesday by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred there will be a 60-game regular-season sprint to the playoffs. Players will report to training camps July 1, and the season is set to begin July 23-24.
With that, I’d like to make an announcement of my own: Thanks to the impending resumption of America’s great pasttime, we here at the Lewiston Tribune and Moscow-Pullman Daily News sports departments listened, and we have decided to bring back full box scores for the shortened season, as long as there will be a season.
When I arrived here in August 2019, the one thing I encountered more than anything else was subscribers upset with the newspaper for taking away box scores, which has been a staple of households across this great country of ours since the beginnings of the sports. In fact, it was one of the reasons I got into the sports journalism business: the chance to delve deep into the numbers and what they mean.
Upon learning we were not running box scores and the uproar this was causing, I took time to investigate the matter. But honestly, it didn’t take long at all to realize that not running box scores had some effect in us losing subscribers. Sure, many people in our area can access the internet and the excuse of “well, you can just get them on the internet,” doesn’t really fly in this community.
It’s a place that’s steeped in baseball heritage. The Lewiston Broncs became an institution during their continuous 22-year run from 1952 until they folded in 1974 (the team also played one season in 1921, 1937 and 1939). Many former major league baseball players came through this area: the most famous were Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Tony LaRussa and John McNamara.
But there are others, such as Bert Campaneris, Dave Duncan, Bob Forsch, Marcel Lachemann, Rick Monday, Blue Moon Odom and Tom Trebelhorn.
I’m sure I’m missing more legendary players who made their way through this region. The Broncs had two distinctions: smallest town in the United States to have a professional baseball team, and the only pro team to be run by a board of directors centered on the stockholders for their entire existence.
Then when Lewiston lost the Avista NAIA World Series this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, I knew that we had to do something in our role as a source of information, So we dedicated nine full days of coverage, mainly looking back at Lewis-Clark State College’s hallowed past. From teams that didn’t quite make it to the top (the 1983 team comes to mind with a 69-7 record but no title!) to the ones that are a part of the legacy that is 19 national championships strong, we knew we had an opportunity to make that history come alive one final time with a chance of a lifetime to revisit those great teams and those great players.
Not only that, but the fact Lewiston embraces all of those teams that come into town that one week at the end of May, the players, the stories, and just the all-around support the citizens here show solidified in my mind how much baseball means to the people here.
Returning box scores to the paper has been something we’ve been hoping to tell you since ... well ... March. But because the MLB season was put on hold, we had to put that plan on the backburner. In fact, we were concerned we weren’t going to be able to roll out the plan because of the fighting between the two sides about an agreement to play this season. Many people who work with me have seen the exasperation of the day-in, day-out progress, or lackthereof at times, of the negotiations between both sides.
There still are many questions that need to be answered. And really, what are the chances of this 60-game season being played to its completion because of the real threat that this first wave of COVID-19 isn’t done yet, and what happens if there is a major surge of cases and hospitalizations throughout the nation, like what is going on in the Deep South right now. It’s bringing up the distinct possibility that other sports (including college football) could be in danger of not playing at all.
But the one question I know some of you readers hoped I would answer is this: yes, we will bring back box scores. We can’t wait for that to happen. Along with those box scores, we will continue to run the daily standings as well as recaps on Mariners games.
With that, it’s time to hear those two words most of us here have been longing to hear for the past few months: Play Ball!
Donn Walden may be reached at (208) 848-2258, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @waldo9939.