The Memorial Day weekend heralded the return of the West Virginia Power, Charleston’s minor league baseball team. It was an occasion to celebrate on multiple levels.
First and foremost, despite some bad weather for the first two contests of the series with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, it marked the return of fans to Appalachian Power Park, in downtown Charleston. The Power canceled its entire 2020 campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just seeing people out with their families, taking in a ballgame was a balm for souls suffering in relative isolation and massive uncertainty since March of last year. It also was a place for friends and relatives to reconnect and gave fans something to focus on other than COVID-19 statistics or political polarization.
Of course, just that professional baseball is being played in Charleston is cause for celebration. The Power were in dire straits when Major League Baseball significantly pared down its minor league system, cutting the Power and several other teams loose. In a time when the pandemic was culling businesses and entertainment already in a precarious position, the Power could’ve easily folded.
Charleston has had droughts from minor league ball before, but professional baseball in West Virginia’s capital city is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s. A fortunate merger with the ownership of former South Atlantic League rivals and fellow MLB castaways, the Lexington Legends, assured that Power baseball would be played again. The teams now exist in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, an MLB partner league.
The return of baseball also is something of an existential victory for Charleston. As we stated when the merger with Lexington was first announced, a city so used to losing things ended up keeping something this time.
With Live on the Levee also set to resume soon, Charleston should be an active city once again. It might be difficult or awkward at first, but people will eventually learn how to be around one another again. People are a precious commodity in Charleston and West Virginia, and they’re what make a city feel alive. It’s good to have these things back, as Charleston’s slowed pulse becomes steadier and stronger.