Published May 6, 2021
By STEPHEN MARTELLUCCI
NORTH READING — Due to the pandemic last summer, the North Shore Baseball League (ages 18 and over), played only a little more than half of a season. Normally, the season is 24 games before the start of the playoffs. Last season, teams played only 14 games starting in early July before the postseason began in mid-August.
The North Reading A’s struggled as they came in 11th place out of 12 teams finishing at 2-12.
“We know that some of the summer leagues didn’t even play so we were happy that we did,” said A’s player-manager Joe Dardeno. “Coaching was a challenge with all of the restrictions.”
Each team had to bring their own baseballs and the umpires wore masks.
Players had to wear masks if they were within six feet of anybody else and the players had to be spread out of the benches for proper social distancing.
This season, the league recently announced it will go back to a normal season of 24 games without many of the restrictions from last year. The only difference will be that the season will start on May 31 instead of mid-May.
“Due to the late start with the high school season, we are starting our season a couple of weeks later,” explained Dardeno, as most of the teams share fields with high school teams. “We plan on ending the regular season at the end of July and starting the playoffs in early August.”
The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
The league will stay at 12 teams even though the Saugus Braves dropped out; they will be replaced by the North Shore Freedom that will play some of its home games at World Series Park in Saugus where the Braves played all of their home games.
“We are looking forward to the season,” said Dardeno. “We have struggled the past couple of years but we have some new recruits this year.”
While the schedule is not officially complete, the A’s know that they will open the 2021 campaign on May 31 at home as they welcome the Swampscott Sox at North Reading High with that game starting at 6 p.m.