Keith Griffin is excited for his 12th season of Amsterdam Mohawks baseball, but understands there could be roadblocks that might prevent him from manning the dugout at Shuttleworth Park this season.
When the Independent Collegiate Baseball League announced its formation last week as a one-year-only league for Capital Region college baseball players to get some game time in this summer following the cancellation of both the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League and Albany Twilight League seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Griffin was announced as Amsterdam’s head coach.
But, Griffin acknowledged during a phone interview from a golf course near his Pensacola, Florida home on Tuesday, a hurdle could arise if New York imposes a mandatory quarantine for travelers to the state from Florida that is being considered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo due to the Sunshine State’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Listen,” Griffin said, “if there’s a quarantine, I ain’t coming. I’m not going to come if there’s a quarantine that I can’t get back home. [Mohawks team president and general manager] Brian [Spagnola] and I talked about that.”
Griffin said he’s currently planning to arrive in Amsterdam on July 4, with the 30-game ICBL season slated to start July 6 and run through Aug. 13 with doubleheaders being played three days a week at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam and East Field in Glens Falls.
If a quarantine for travelers from Florida is imposed in New York and Griffin arrives July 4, that would mean he couldn’t coach until July 18 at the earliest — and that’s not a situation he’s planning to abide.
“We’ll cross that bridge next week and we’ll find out what they’ve got to say,” Griffin said. “But, if it’s a quarantine, then I’m not going to be able to do it.”
“My plan is to come on Saturday [July 4], as long as there’s not a quarantine,” he added. “If there’s a quarantine, I’m not going to come. I wouldn’t come up and just sit there for 14 days.”
As long as there are no travel restrictions, Griffin is ready and raring to go for his 12th season in Amsterdam.
It’ll be different from any of his 11 previous seasons, but it didn’t take much convincing from Spagnola to get Griffin to commit to coaching in Amsterdam as the ICBL made preparations for what is scheduled to be the league’s one and only season.
“Brian was pretty insistent, and I just said, ‘Well, I ain’t got nothing going on,’” Griffin said. “I’m helping a buddy of mine with a landscaping business. I’m looking forward to it. I know we can help some local guys.”
This year’s Mohawks won’t be a collection of blue-chip prospects culled from powerhouse SEC and ACC programs like Mississippi State and Wake Forest, but will instead draw on the wealth of talent among Section II baseball alumni.
The Mohawks’ roster is set to include former standouts from the Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs, Fort Plain and Albany Academy high school programs, among others.
It’s also set to be a far less competitive atmosphere than the PGCBL. In his previous 11 seasons in Amsterdam, Griffin has led the Mohawks to seven combined league titles — five in the PGCBL and two in the New York Collegiate Baseball League. The ICBL features just four teams, with the Glens Falls Independents, Albany Athletics and Albany Dutch joining Amsterdam, and Griffin expects things to be far more casual and more of a means of getting players back on the field after their college seasons were halted in mid-March.
“I think the premise of the league is good,” Griffin said. “These guys can get some work in, and they should be starving for it. From that end, it’s pretty good.”
“It doesn’t matter who wins,” he added. “There’s not a championship, from what I’ve been told. These guys get some playing time, but we’re not working towards a championship week or something like that. We’re trying to help these guys get better.”
The ICBL is adopting a number of health and safety protocols to operate as New York goes through its phased reopening. Attendance in the stands will be limited to two family members per player, with some additional attendees allowed at both Shuttleworth and East Field via outdoor dining options.
On the field, players will be required to bring their own bats, gloves and helmets, all players will have hand sanitizer and players not on the diamond will be spaced out between dugouts, bullpens and reserved areas in the stands. There will also be no drink coolers in the dugouts.
“It’s going to be different,” he said. “Every way you can do it, it’s going to be entirely different. . . . They just told me when to come up, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.