The pandemic left a lot of minor league ballplayers scrambling to figure out how to keep playing. For Baltimore Orioles prospect, Sharon native and UConn graduate Willy Yahn, that meant getting creative to piece together his own season back in his hometown.
“One day we showed up and they told us we had to get out as fast as possible,” said Yahn. “They tried to give us as much information as they could but they didn't know that much either.”
In mid-March, Yahn knew three things: spring training was over, he was heading back to Connecticut and he needed to find a place to keep playing.
“Any way, shape or form, no matter what level, I just want to get out and get some reps,” said Yahn.
So Yahn didn't just find one team to join - the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League's People's United – he started another.
“The Great Falls Gators here, I kind of made up on the fly,” said Yahn of the team he started in the Connecticut Twilight League.
Not just a heads up play for himself, but a home run for dozens of other players in the Northwest corner of the state.
“Get enough games during the week to make it feel almost normal...obviously we're not anywhere near the 140 game season but to play baseball a couple of days in a row brings back some normalcy, “said Yahn. “It was kind of exciting that everybody was so into this idea that I though up spur of the moment once I knew that everybody needed somewhere to play. We made a couple phone calls and then within 48 hours, we had the Great Falls Gators.”
The hope is that next season Yahn will be back with his minor league team but that the gators won't be gone as quickly as they started.
“We might be one and done but we'll see,” said Yahn. “Maybe someone will take the reins next year.”