The Minor League Baseball season is less than two weeks away, set to start on May 4. The Hartford Yard Goats will open up Dunkin Donuts Park on May 11. While it will be an exciting welcome back for fans, for players, it’s finally the end of a very long off season.
Major League prospects haven’t played games since the 2019 season, with last year’s calendar canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, NBC Connecticut showed you how Major League hopefuls and collegiate players from Connecticut dealt with the sudden change of plans. One UConn grad, Sharon native and Baltimore Orioles prospect got creative; Willy Yahn started his own team.
Yahn founded the Great Falls Gators, part of a men’s league in the Northwest corner of the state, where he was a player-manager. Last summer, his whole focus was on filling his schedule enough to feel like a season. This summer, he’s back with the Orioles, but the legend of the Gators lives on.
“A lot of teammates were asking me about it like 'did you actually do that? That wasn't a fluke? You weren't just making jokes on Instagram?' and I was like ‘yeah actually did that,’” said Yahn.
“We were really close to not having any baseball last year and the Gators gave us that so I'm going to be on baseball fields a lot more this year and every day I’m just really appreciative and the gators just reinforced that," he continued.
Yahn doesn't have his assignment yet but it's possible you'll see him coming through Hartford with the Orioles Double-A affiliate Bowie Baysox.