The Major League Players Association announced Tuesday night that they have reached an agreement with Major League Baseball on the health and safety protocols, clearing the way for a season to begin the weekend of July 24.
The Cardinals expect to open Busch Stadium for training camp on July 1 in preparation for the 60-game season. A schedule is expected to be released in the next several days but the games will be played without fans, at least at the beginning of the season.
The Cardinals are expected to have up to 60 players in the training camp, although that total could include players expected to be on the taxi squad, which will be training in Springfield at the Cardinals Double A team facility. The season’s schedule will include only games against division opponents plus teams from the American League Central to limit travel for this season.
It’s fun to look at the timeline resulting from the coronavirus pandemic which shut down baseball in the middle of March and wiped out the first four months of the season.
Chronology of Events With COVID-19 and MLB in 2020
Dec. 31, 2019- Chinese government releases that they have been treating dozens of “pneumonia” cases in Wuhan, China.
First week of January, 2020- coronavirus is identified.
Jan. 11- First case of death from coronavirus is in China.
Jan. 20- First case reported in the United States; in Washington State, where a man in his 30’s developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan, China.
Jan. 30 – World Health Organization (WHO) declares the virus to be a public health emergency
Jan. 31- President Trump suspends travel from China to the U.S. and advises against going to China.
Feb. 10- Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Arizona and Florida.
Feb. 11- World Health Organization officially names the strain of virus COVID-19 from coronavirus 2019 (when it was first detected in China)
Feb. 12- Death toll in China hits 1,113 and total number of confirmed cases rose to 44,653, with 393 cases outside of China, in 24 countries.
Feb. 14- First death in Europe
Position players begin reporting to spring training.
Feb. 22- Spring Training games start
Cactus and Grapefruit League spring training games begin.
Feb. 29- First death in United States- near Seattle, Washington.
March 4– WHO confirms the 100th U.S. case of COVID-19.
March 7- A young woman from the St. Louis area tests positive for coronavirus, the first person in the state to be confirmed, officials announce.
March 9, 2020– Signs start to show that MLB is becoming concerned about COVID-19
Media is banned from locker rooms.
Following a conference call with all 30 teams, MLB announces its intent to continue playing spring training games and to open the regular season on March 26 as planned. The statement notes that MLB has been in regular contact with health officials. MLB does, however, limit clubhouse access to players and essential personnel.
March 10- Cardinals still planning events and selling tickets for regular season
Cardinals send out two press releases: 1) The St. Louis Cardinals will host an exclusive Speaker Series event with 2019 National League Manager of the Year Mike Shildt on Thursday, April 23, from 6:00 pm – 9:45 pm at Busch Stadium.
2) The St. Louis Cardinals have announced the 2020 Budweiser Ballpark Pass is on sale now at cardinals.com/pass. The popular ticket subscription service gives fans the opportunity to attend as many Cardinals home games as they want each month (excluding Opening Day) for a monthly fee of $29.99.
March 11– Coronavirus is deemed a pandemic by WHO.
President Trump in Oval Office message halts all travel to US from Europe.
Various cities announce bans on group gatherings including Seattle and San Francisco which causes MLB teams in those cities to have talks with baseball about alternatives for them.
NBA suspends play for the season after player Rudy Gobert tests positive for COVID-19.
March 12- Cardinals play their last Spring Training game and shut down the Spring Training season.
STLSportsPage.com hosts possibly the last “large group” event with our Baseball Charity event at Homewood Suites, Palm Beach Gardens. Fans came over after the Cardinals game and as they arrived their phones started blowing up as they saw reports on Twitter of spring training being shut down. As the photo shows on March 12th social distancing had not even been instigated, but starting the next day the fans headed home and it was the start of the antibacterial wipes, gloves and soon to follow the mask.
NBA, NHL and MLS suspends their seasons which were already underway, then MLB does.
MLB announced cancellation of all spring training games as of 3 p.m. Central and that the start of the regular season was been pushed back two weeks. Opening Day had been scheduled for March 26.
March 13- President Trump declares National Emergency.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson also declares state of emergency in Missouri
Cardinals keep their Team Store open at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, reducing prices and around the stadium, vendors are seen selling their wares at drastically reduced prices, as in the photo shown left.
Players attend a team meeting in the morning on the 13th, at which point they were “in a holding pattern” according to manager Mike Shildt that day.
Cardinals send out this press release on March 13, 2020:
The St. Louis Cardinals are announcing a list of events impacted following Major League Baseball’s decision to postpone the start of the regular season by at least two weeks in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
At Busch Stadium, the following events have been postponed until further notice: Busch Stadium Tours, Cardinals 5k, CAP Education Programs at Busch Stadium
With regard to questions about ticketing issues, the St. Louis Cardinals indicate that, while the start of the 2020 regular season has been delayed, no games have been cancelled. (As of March 13) Major League Baseball is working on a variety of contingency plans with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible. At this time, fans should retain their game tickets, and await further direction as details are being finalized.
March 15- More recommendations for restrictions come from C.D.C.
The C.D.C. recommended no gatherings of 50 or more people in the U.S. for at least eight weeks.
Yankees have a player test positive and that is the first MLB player to test positive for COVID-19.
MLB advises all non-roster players to return home. Players are still allowed to practice at the minor league facilities until they figure out what’s going on.
March 16- MLB announces regular season will be pushed back.
Statement from MLB–
Today Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. conducted a conference call with the 30 Clubs of Major League Baseball. Following last night’s newly updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, the opening of the 2020 regular season will be pushed back in accordance with that guidance.
MLB will keep fans updated on decisions regarding plans for the 2020 schedule in the days and weeks ahead. The Clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins. We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit. MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus.
March 19- MLB announces interim support for minor league players
Since last week, Major League Baseball has been engaged in a variety of discussions with stakeholders to identify ways to blunt the wide-ranging impact of the national emergency resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic. As those conversations continue, MLB is announcing today a league-wide initiative that will create a level of uniform compensation for Minor League players, covering the period between now and the originally scheduled start of the minor league season
March 25- Baseball realizing people will be quarantined a while
Press Release: Major League Baseball and EVERFI, the leading social impact education and Official Education Partner of MLB, today announced the widespread availability of the “Summer Slugger” digital education platform to assist some of the 39 million students currently learning at home in the United States and Canada. Parents, legal guardians and teachers can access the program for students at SummerSlugger.com.
Originally created as a first-of-its-kind program to address summer learning loss during vacation months, Summer Slugger is a free baseball-themed and gamified education course focusing on math and literacy skills. Since the program’s launch in June 2017, MLB Clubs have introduced more than 140,000 young people in the U.S. and Canada, ages 8-11, to the program, with thousands more accessing the platform at home.
March 25- MLB hoping to get baseball started
Commissioner Rob Manfred tells ESPN “nothing is off the table” as far as they hope to get baseball started back.
March 26- The United States leads the world in confirmed cases. (Graphic from KMOV-TV)
The United States officially became the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 82,000 confirmed infections and more than 1,000 deaths. This was more reported cases than in China, Italy or any other country at the time.
March 26- MLB and the MLBPA finalize a deal with hopes of playing.
Jon Heyman reports MLB hoping to play 140 games with playoffs expanded to 14 games.
March 28- The C.D.C. issued a travel advisory for the New York region, which of course would affect the Mets and Yankees.
The C.D.C. urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” The advisory did not apply to workers in “critical infrastructure industries,” including trucking, public health, financial services and food supply.
March 30 Many states issue stay at home directives
March 31- MLB Extends support for Minor Leaguers
Press Release: Major League Baseball announced today that it has extended the league-wide initiative of financial support for Minor League players through May 31st or until the beginning of the minor league season – whichever occurs first.
April 1- Cardinals announce plans for “Stay Home Opener”
Press Release: April 1, 2020
The St. Louis Cardinals are marking the team’s original home opener date on Thursday, April 2nd by encouraging fans to stay home and stay safe. The Club’s ‘Stay Home Opener’ includes a number of social media activations as well as the launch of the Club’s resources page, cardinals.com/support.
“We know our fans miss baseball, and we miss it too,” said Bill DeWitt III, Team President. “We would love to be celebrating our home opener tomorrow, but the current situation demands that we all help slow the spread of COVID-19 by staying at home and practicing social distancing. We hope our millions of fans will check out our website and social feeds which will celebrate some past home openers and also provide helpful links from our community partners on health and wellness issues.”
MLB and Cardinals announce the 2020 London Series between the Cardinals and Cubs, originally scheduled for June 13-14, has been canceled due to the pandemic.
April 2, 2020- It should have been the Cardinals home opener.
COVID-19 hit the one million mark with people in 171 countries across six continents, killing at least 51,000.
In a 45- minute Zoom call with the media on what should have been the Cardinals’ home opening day Thursday, John Mozeliak said “We just don’t know.” The Cardinals’ president of baseball operations admitted what everybody involved with the game knows is true – a lot of the questions about what is going to happen do not have answers right now.
April 3- Gov. Mike Parson announces Missouri statewide stat at home order.
April 7- MLB and MLPBA reportedly discussed playing games in Phoenix until stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Governor Mike Parson announces schools will be closed for the remainder of the year, with remote learning to continue through the end of the scheduled school year.
Meanwhile… More At-Home Activities promoted by the Cardinals
Release: The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that selected activities from their award-winning Cardinals Academic Program (CAP) will be offered online at cardinals.com/cap for students to take advantage of while learning from home. In addition, students may bring one of their completed worksheets to the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum for one free child’s admission to the museum with one paid adult admission once the museum reopens.
April 10- Could regular season be in Florida and Arizona?
MLB and MLBPA reportedly discussed having regular season games in Florida and Arizona.
April 14- Cardinals show support for seasonal and contract employees
Press Release: The St. Louis Cardinals have announced an additional $1 million fund to support seasonal and game-day Busch Stadium contract employees impacted by postponed games and events at Busch Stadium.
The first fund, which was announced as part of the League-wide 30-Club, $30-million effort in March, will aid approximately 1,350 part-time and game-day Cardinals employees including ushers, event staff, scoreboard operators, grounds crew, retail staff, carpenters, laborers, interns, and others affected by the delay to the season’s start. Financial support for these employees will range from $500 to $1,275, depending on tenure and other factors, with checks being mailed or funds being available through direct deposit starting today.
The second fund, announced today, is being created through a $1 million grant by Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation. The Cardinals Care Relief Fund is designed to provide relief to 2020 seasonal and game-day Busch Stadium contract employees experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This group of workers, estimated to be close to 1,900, includes concession employees, emergency medical and security personnel, cleanup crew members, and others who work for companies that contract with the Cardinals to provide services to the team. Cardinals Care is partnering with the St. Louis Community Foundation, which is holding and administering the fund, to process eligible recipients and implement the grant program. Eligible recipients will receive a one-time grant of $450. Any excess funds left after the initial grants are processed will go to cases of severe hardship.
“We are committed to helping the St. Louis community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III. “Providing financial support for our seasonal and game-day employees is critical, and we consider all Busch Stadium workers—regardless of what company name is on their paycheck—to be part of the Cardinals family.”
April 16: As Missouri surpassed 5,000 positive cases of coronavirus, Governor Parson extends stay at hone order to May 3.
April 20: CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson reports that MLB is considering beginning the regular season with three “pools” of teams in three different locations in Arizona, Florida, and Texas.
April 29- Cardinals announce ticket refund policies
Press Release: The St. Louis Cardinals announced their ticket refund policy for April and May games at Busch Stadium impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown
May 1-The W.H.O. extended its declaration of a global public health emergency.
May 13: MLB submits protocols for player testing and safety to the union in a 67-page document.
May 18: St. Louis City officially entered phase one of the STL Regional Business Recovery Initiative. Businesses that were previously closed under COVID-19 “Stay at Home” orders will be permitted to safely and responsibly reopen if they so choose. Businesses that decide to reopen and allow employees to return to work need to follow the “Phase I Reopening Standards and Guidance”, which contains industry-specific recommendations and requirements that promote social distancing, good hygiene, and other evidence-based practices.
May 20- Tampa Bay and Miami are first to open their stadiums to players for work-outs.
May 27- Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 100,000.
May 28: Governor Parson extends initial phase of the state’s reopening plan until mid-June.
May 31- Protests start amid pandemics
According to New York Times: “Mass protests over police violence against black Americans, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, in custody of the Minneapolis Police, spurred concerns that the gatherings could lead to new outbreaks. By May 31, there had been protests in at least 75 U.S. cities.”
June 4- MLB informs team broadcasters they will not be able to travel to games and will have to broadcast remotely.
June 10 and 11- Cardinals participate in MLB Draft
Select Jordan Walker in first round
June 15- Cardinals announce refund policy for June Tickets
It is announced that several MLB players tested positive for COVID-19
June 19- Another day another statement saying they want to “get back to work as soon as possible.”
The Philadelphia Phillies announce five players and three team employees tested positive for COVID-19 and the team closes down their Clearwater, Fla. spring training facility.
June 21- Fathers Day brings no gift of baseball.
It had been rumored that the players would take a vote after receiving the latest proposal from the owners, but they did not.
June 22- MLBPA had their vote. The vote — which featured one player representative per team and eight members of the union’s executive committee — voted 33-5 against the proposal.
Major League Baseball issued the following statement:
“Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.
“The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:
- The universal DH for two years
- A guaranteed $25 million in playoff pools in 2020
- $33 million in forgiven salary advances that would increase the take home pay of 61% of Major League players
- Overall earnings for players of 104 percent of prorated salary
- Over the last two days, MLB agreed to remove expanded Postseason in 2021 in order to address player concerns
“In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative.
“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information. The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”
June 23- Agreement reached with the players association and John Mozeliak tells St. Louis media that the city of St. Louis is on board with their plans for the Busch Stadium workouts.