Medford Mustangs adjusting on the fly
If you’re trying to reach Medford Mustangs manager Nate Mayben, it’s more than likely you will have to leave a message these days.
Mayben and the rest of the Mustangs leadership worked diligently to even put together an independent baseball season this year for their American Legion AAA players, and they’re not giving up despite recent turmoil.
In the past two weeks, the Mustangs have seen the Grants Pass Nuggets and Roseburg Dr. Stewart’s drop off their schedule due to COVID-19 circumstances, only for another version of Grants Pass to pop back up in the form of the RiverDawgs thanks to the private efforts of Jay Reese and a few cohorts.
This is also after the Springfield Timbers took a hiatus this summer, although they expect to remain on Medford’s schedule.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m working on our schedule just about every day, for a couple three hours a day because things are just changing constantly,” said Mayben. “The crazy thing is everybody calling us, from Seattle all the way down to the Bay Area, because we’re playing down here.”
“But at the same time, we’re all trying to use the same field,” he added. “All the single A Legion teams are trying to use the same field that we’re trying to use so it’s tough to find times and tough to work out stuff that works for people coming from out of town, but we’re trying to do the best we can so these kids can play some baseball and fill in dates that got canceled.”
While the Mustangs (19-8) are enjoying a scheduled week off from playing, Mayben has wrangled a 22-game schedule that picks up Tuesday at Kiger Stadium against the Klamath Falls Falcons and runs through an Aug. 8 doubleheader against the Mudville Nine at U.S. Cellular Community Park Field 9.
“That’s a lot of games in the span of about two and a half weeks to finish out the season,” said Mayben. “Hopefully we can get through this next two and a half weeks without any more changes.”
That’s not to say the Mustangs are finished tinkering with their schedule.
If Mayben has learned anything, it’s that nothing is set in stone during this pandemic.
“Roseburg shut down for the rest of the summer,” he said, “but the way this summer’s going, man you never know who’s going to be done and who’s going to quit tomorrow and who’s going to come back. It just is what it is.”
There is a chance that the Mustangs will fill open dates on Aug. 6-7, and they will assess whether they can extend the season in August. It will depend on how soon college and high school players need to go back to their main programs.
“We may think about continuing this thing as long as we can, and as long as there are people to play,” said Mayben.
One thing has been certain this summer for Mayben, and that’s how impressed he has been by his players.
“I was really expecting to have a handful of kids gone a lot of the time,” he said, “but these guys have been at everything, all the time. I’m just impressed. They just want to play baseball. They’ve got nothing else going on so it’s the safest and best place for them on that baseball field.”