Tigers, Yankees reach vaccine milestone
The last time the Tigers and Yankees faced each other in a regular-season game two years ago, there was no COVID-19. As they faced each other Friday night at Yankee Stadium, the sight of both teams on the field and in the dugouts without masks was a quiet but significant step toward getting baseball closer to normalcy.
Friday’s opener to their three-game series marked the first contest between two Major League teams that had both reached the vaccination threshold to have some of their health and safety protocols relaxed, including no masks needed in dugouts and bullpens. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal first reported the milestone Friday afternoon.
Clubs were informed just before Opening Day that MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 operations manual for fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals and for clubs where 85% of their Tier 1 individuals are fully vaccinated. This applies to all players and staff who are considered Tier 1, including those at the alternate training site. As part of that memo, players and staff were again strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.
Friday’s game came hours after Major League Baseball announced in a release that four teams have reached that mark. No teams were named, but the Tigers and Yankees are known to be among them. Another five teams, according to the release, are at the 85% vaccination rate, and they will have their protocols relaxed once they’re two weeks past their final vaccine dose -- the mark at which individuals are considered fully vaccinated.
As of Friday, more than 81% of all Tier 1 individuals across baseball, including players, are considered partially or fully vaccinated, according to the release.
The Tigers were among the first teams to have their protocols relaxed two weeks ago. The vast majority of players and staff received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 1 following their Opening Day victory at Comerica Park.
Earlier this week, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as a co-chair of the Protect Michigan Commission to help promote the state’s COVID-19 vaccination and education efforts.
“I think when you have the vaccine, it’s very helpful for you,” Cabrera said in a video call with reporters Wednesday. “I think, in my opinion, everybody has to have the vaccine to get better and get all this behind us and be normal again. I’m tired of this.”
Cabrera was holding a mask for effect when he said the last part. Hopefully, the sight of no masks Friday has a similar impact.