Amsterdam

COVID-19 quarantine could force coaching change for Amsterdam Mohawks

Griffin lives in Florida, one of 9 states currently listed in travel advisory
Keith Griffin is slated to coach the Amsterdam Mohawks this summer in the Independent Collegiate Baseball League.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Keith Griffin is slated to coach the Amsterdam Mohawks this summer in the Independent Collegiate Baseball League.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, Sports

The mandatory quarantine imposed Wednesday for travelers from states that are COVID-19 hot spots — including Florida — to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut could lead to Amsterdam Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin sitting out the 2020 season.

The travel advisory requiring visitors to New York from states with high COVID infection rates to quarantine for two weeks went into effect at midnight Thursday. It applies to any state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

As of Wednesday, the states listed on the travel advisory were Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, North Carolina, Washington and Texas. 

Griffin, who lives in Pensacola, Florida, was planning to arrive in Amsterdam on July 4 in advance of the start of the Independent Collegiate Baseball League on July 6. The veteran head coach indicated in a phone interview Tuesday that if a quarantine was imposed, he would not make the trip.

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Mohawks team president and Brian Spagnola reiterated that Wednesday, following the introduction of the travel advisory. While Spagnola said the team was currently employing a “wait and see” approach, if the quarantine is still in place by the time of Griffin’s scheduled arrival, he won’t make the trip.

“We’re just going to monitor it and see what happens, I guess,” Spagnola said. “From what I understand, it could change, but I don’t know. If it is [still in effect], obviously [Griffin’s] not going to come and stay in the house here for two weeks before he can do anything. It wouldn’t make much sense.”

The remainder of the Mohawks’ coaching staff is the same group that assisted Griffin during Amsterdam’s run to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship: Shenendehowa High School coach Greg Christodulu, Skidmore College pitching coach Mike McFerran and Amsterdam High School graduate Robbie Spagnola, who is currently a student manager at the University of Kentucky.

Christodulu has served as an assistant coach with the Mohawks since 2017, primarily working with the team’s hitters last season. McFerran, an Albany native and former standout at Catholic Central High School, played for Glens Falls in the PGCBL and joined Amsterdam’s staff as the pitching coach during the latter stages of the 2019 season. Robbie Spagnola, who is Brian Spagnola’s nephew, was the team’s first-base coach last season.

“It’s the exact Mohawks staff that we’ve had,” Brian Spagnola said. “We have the utmost confidence that those guys can do it. We’ll see what happens. Obviously, we’d love to have [Griffin], but we’ve had a staff where some of those guys who have been with us for years and I’m sure they’d do a fine job.”

The Independent Collegiate Baseball League is set to operate for the 2020 season only, providing an outlet for Capital Region-based college players to see game action following the cancellation of most summer collegiate leagues throughout the nation, including both the PGCBL and Albany Twilight League locally.

The league includes four teams — the Mohawks, Albany Dutch, Albany Athletics and Glens Falls Independents — with all games set to take place at either Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam or East Field in Glens Falls.

Teams will play 30 games running from July 6 through Aug. 13, taking part in doubleheaders three days a week. The league has instituted numerous health and safety protocols in coordination with local health departments, and attendance will be limited to two family members per player along with limited seating in outdoor dining set-ups.

Griffin has spent his summers in Amsterdam since 2009 and is the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, leading the Mohawks to seven league championships in an 11-year span.

The team has dealt with Griffin’s absence for extended stretches several times in recent years, as the coach had to miss the PGCBL postseason in 2016, 2017 and 2018 due to work commitments in Florida. Former assistant Doug O’Brey and Christodulu were among those who took larger responsibilities when Griffin had to leave early.

Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.

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