As the world continues to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, all of the major North American professional sports leagues have suspended operations for the time being.
It began with the NBA after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week. The NHL and MLS shortly followed suit before Major League Baseball officially put Spring Training games on hold while delaying the start of the regular season by at least two weeks.
MLB has also advised players to head home, though the Los Angeles Dodgers will keep Camelback Ranch open for voluntary workouts. While the league will re-evaluate the situation in about a month’s time, the expectation is that play won’t resume until May — at the earliest.
As MLB enters uncharted territory, there have only been a few instances in the past that required a delay the start of the regular season.
The 1972 strike from April 1-13 postponed the start of the regular season by 10 days. As a result, the schedule was reduced to between 153-156 games for each team.
The 1990 lockout additionally canceled most of Spring Training. The start of the season was consequently pushed back to April 9 and extended by three days to keep the 162-game schedule intact.
The 1995 strike, which was a carryover from the work stoppage in August 1994 that cancelled the postseason, ended on April 2. The regular season did not begin until April 25, however, and the schedule was cut down to 144 games.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was selected in the 1994 Draft, was a Minor League player at that time. “This is new territory,” he said of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I remember the ’95 season, Spring Training was shortened. And then there’s obviously been some viruses that have been out over the last decade-plus, but something like this, I don’t think I’ve been a part of anything like this.”
As for midseason interruptions, MLB cancelled all of its games on Aug. 3, 1923, following the death of President Warren Harding. Scheduled games on June 6, 1944 were also called off due to the Normandy landings.
On April 14, 1945 — two days after the death of President Franklin Roosevelt — MLB canceled all contests. Six teams additionally postponed their games on June 2, 1968, in the wake of the assassination of New York senator Robert F. Kennedy.
More recently, MLB suspended play for a full week following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
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