New summer baseball league will keep BYU players busy
BYU outfielder Mitch McIntyre would be playing summer baseball on the East Coast in the Cape Code League but the coronavirus resulted in the cancellation of those plans.
Instead, he was going to work with his father, Bob, a general contractor, building houses and making some money for school. The younger McIntyre is a construction management major, so it would be a productive summer.
Truth be told, he’d rather be playing baseball.
McIntyre and around 120 other local baseball players are going to get that chance in the new Utah College League, which begins July 1 and runs through mid-August. Most of the players are from BYU, the University of Utah, Utah Valley, Salt Lake Community College and Dixie State, with a few others from Idaho and surrounding areas. Six teams will play five games a week at SLCC’s Cate Field at 90th and Bangerter in South Jordan.
Cate Field has recently received an upgrade with new turf and a new scoreboard.
“I’ve been kind of going crazy for sure, so it’s super nice to be able to be on the field again,” McIntyre said. “I might be a little bit rusty, but we’re all just really happy the league started this summer and we can get back into the groove.”
BYU’s baseball season was cancelled mid-March, and since then McIntyre said he’s only been able to take swings at his former high school’s baseball field in Stansbury.
“I’ve just been trying to work through things, stay on top and not get worse,” he said.
Hayden Leatham, Reid McLaughlin, Easton Walker and Ryan Zimmerman will join McIntyre on one of the teams with other BYU teammates scattered throughout the league.
Like McIntyre, many local baseball players were planning on playing in the Cape Cod or Coastal Plains League during the summer. Coaches started talking about finding alternatives and that’s where the Utah College League got its start. The league will be hosted by SLCC.
“All of the coaches and players are chomping at the bit and loving the chance to play,” SLCC coach D.G. Nelson said. “They’re excited to get going and to go out and keep getting better. It’ll be a lot of fun for the guys to play against teammates so it’s a really cool setup for the kids. A lot of minor leagues are getting cancelled so we’re getting local athletes who aren’t playing to coach.”
Former Pleasant Grove standout Payton Henry, who is in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, will coach a team called simply “Team Henry” and former BYU standout Jackson Cluff (Washington Nationals) will coach “Team Cluff.”
“The uniforms will be neutral colors but the players can wear their team hats so everyone knows where they are playing,” Nelson said.
Players will be required to wear masks in the dugout and those areas will be continually sterilized and cleaned. Nelson said the berm in the outfield at Gates Field will be open for fans to watch as long as they observe social distancing.
“My dad said he’d volunteer to be a member of the grounds crew if that allowed him to watch the games,” McIntyre said.
Junior college coaches and scouts will be allowed to observe but Division I coaches can’t watch any games until the end of July according to NCAA rules.
“It would be cool to have our coaches there but I kind of like not having them there,” McIntyre said. “It will be nice for us to have a break and just go out and play baseball. Summer ball is always kind of like that. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
The games will be played under regulation NCAA rules with one exception: Wooden bats will be used instead of aluminum.
Games will be also be streamed at byucougars.com.