End of era: Dover won't have 2017 Central League team

  • Dover won't have a baseball team in the Central League in the 2017 season.
  • Dover has struggled to field a complete team in recent years, forfeiting several games.
  • Since 1974, Dover has won eight York County titles and nine Central League crowns.

There are few local sandlot baseball programs with as much history as Dover.

Winners of eight York County championships and nine Central League titles since 1974, Dover only trails Mount Wolf (13) in league championships.

Dover's Kelly Raber goes up for a throw during his days in the Central League. Raber was a standout for Dover when that team was Central League power. Now, however, Dover has dropped out of the league.

The program has been the home of stars such as Kelly Raber, Brendan and Ryan Reinert, Shawn Hedrick and many others over recent decades.

Those, however, were the glory days. More recently, Dover dealt with its share of troubles not only in keeping its stars, but just fielding a complete, competitive team. Several times over the past two seasons the team had to forfeit regular-season contests because of a lack of players. Last year's Dover outfit struggled to an 8-24 record, finishing next to last in the league.

So, it was not a big surprise that Dover’s days in the Central League were numbered. It became official last month when the league schedule came out without a team from Dover listed.

“It’s pretty simple,” Central League president Mark Skehan said. “They had no leadership. I know everyone with the league is pretty disappointed that we’re going into the 2017 season without a team from Dover.”

Dover’s struggles in fielding a team have been an ongoing issue the past several seasons, but it became more clear to Skehan last summer that the team was in serious jeopardy of dropping out of the league.

“For all intents and purposes, they just kind of fell apart around the middle of the season last year,” he said. “They were able to finish the season, but not without some forfeits. And, at least in my perspective, there was no effort to try to restructure the team and present themselves as a viable program.”

Although Dover may not have a team this season, players who were signed to two-year contracts with the squad for the upcoming season were given a release to play elsewhere in 2017.

“We took the extraordinary step of releasing those players from their contracts for the 2017 season,” Skehan said. “And if Dover comes back to play in 2018, which everyone would love to see happen, those players would be allowed to go back and play with Dover if that was the player’s choice.”

Skehan says league in good shape: Skehan was quick to point out that, even without a team from Dover this season, the league itself is no worse for the wear. He mentioned that there was interest from an unspecified team in joining the league this season.

The league shared its interest as well, but the timing precluded it from happening this season. If that team does join the league next year, that would not have any impact on a potential return of Dover.

“I think the league is in pretty good shape,” he said. “We are pretty disappointed that Dover will not be a part of it, but they will be welcomed back whenever they are once again able to present themselves as a viable team in the league. And we look forward to that day. But in the meantime we’re moving forward.”

The Central League will have eight teams this season. The eight remaining teams, with last year's regular-season final record, are: Jefferson (23-6-3), Stoverstown (24-8), Mount Wolf (21-11), Manchester (19-11-2), Glen Rock (18-14), Pleasureville (12-19-1), Shiloh (11-19-2) and Dillsburg (4-28).

The 2017 Central League schedule starts Tuesday, May 16. Each team will have a 35-game schedule and will play each team in the league five times.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.