America's oldest active amateur baseball league is planning to be back for a 91st consecutive season on the North Shore.
With Massachusetts currently in the middle of Phase 2 of reopening from the COVID-19 outbreak, outdoor restrictions have loosened, opening the door for the Intertown Twilight Baseball League to return to play when Phase 3 begins at the end of the month.
According to Manchester Essex Mariners manager Ryan Marques and Rowley Rams manager Jeff Wood, the ITL is hoping to be back to play on July 6.
"We are looking to start games on July 6 and wrap up the playoffs in late August," Marques said. "We will have a proposed schedule this week and we are working on safety measures for the league."
That July 6 date is when the second half of the 2020 season was slated to begin even before the COVID-19 pandemic knocked out the entire sports schedule in the middle of March.
The league usually begins play on Memorial Day Weekend and it is hoping to get a full, 12-game second half schedule in when Phase 3 begins.
Playoffs are slated to begin as usual in early August, with the top four teams in the league advancing to a best-of-three semifinal series and eventually a best-of-five finals.
"I'm thrilled, if you'd asked four or five weeks ago I'd have said 50/50 at best," Wood told the Newburyport News.
The Inter-Town Baseball League has unveiled its own safety guidelines, most of which are similar to those being employed by the Pioneer League, and says on its website that it hopes to play a 12-game season, followed by the playoffs, starting after July 4 and ending in mid-August.
The ITL has been a summer staple on Cape Ann since 1929. The league currently has seven teams, two which reside on Cape Ann in the Manchester Essex Mariners and Rockport Townies. The Beverly Giants, Hamilton Generals, Ipswich Chiefs, Rowley Rams and Topsfield Torries make up the rest of the league.
The Cape Ann teams have dominated the league in recent decades. The Mariners won the championship in 2019, the team's seventh championship of the decade. The Townies won in 2018 and 2017. Since 1983, the Mariners and Townies have combined to win 33 league championships.
The last team from outside of Cape Ann to win the league was the Rowley Rams in 2011.
Newburyport News Sports Editor Mac Cerullo contributed to this report.