2020 has been a strange and difficult year for many people, and many businesses have suffered due to the conditions of Covid-19. One such business is the Jumbo Shrimp, the beloved minor league baseball team that calls Jacksonville home. For years, the people of Jacksonville have enjoyed Jumbo Shrimp (or previously the Suns) games, but due to the shutdown of many social activities, the minor league baseball season has been cancelled. That includes the Jumbo Shrimp.
However, Jumbo Shrimp owner Ken Babby is determined to not let the team’s fans down. “We have worked really hard to plan events at the ballpark,” he said, “and a whole variety of different activities from movie nights to days for people to come down and take batting practice, and even a few fireworks nights in between.” The team is doing what they can to keep fans engaged and to provide entertainment in an otherwise relatively boring time.
Even with the additional events, it’s clear that Babby misses the excitement of live sports. “I miss being with our fans. One of the best parts of our jobs is opening those gates and being out in front of the fans and enjoying the smells and sights and sounds of the ballpark.” Without games in the season, the team isn’t able to do what they love most, which is entertaining fans and making sure that they have a good time at the games.
To compound the issues Minor League Baseball is facing in 2020, the landscape of the League is changing, and up to 42 teams could lose their affiliations with their Major League teams. Babby denied that the Jumbo Shrimp would be in danger of disaffiliating, “[the team’s] future in Jacksonville is incredibly strong. We’re committed to the city, committed to the ballpark, and we’re incredibly excited to be back on the field in 2021.”
The special events and activities that the Jumbo Shrimp have been doing this year have been popular, keeping fans engaged during an isolating time. When asked if they would continue these events next season, in which baseball may possibly return, Babby replied, “We will try to continue doing as many things as we can in 2021 to stay engaged.” In the meantime, fans can enjoy the events that they know are going to occur, and going to a movie night is a great way to have fun with the family and to support our local team!
If you missed out on the summer of family-friendly activities with the Jumbo Shrimp, you still have one last chance to take the kids out to the old ball park: Put on your costume and head to the Fall Festival on October 31. Festival-goers can enjoy costume contests, pumpkin mini golf, and of course, trick-or-treating.