The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox won their sixth Cape League championship on Friday, August 15, and another Cape Cod summer is coming to a close.
To help with the withdrawal, there's a lot of championship coverage out there. The Y-D site has a pretty complete list. I enjoyed Right Field Fog's post, which features a lot of interesting facts and tweets from the players.
And here's some more recent league coverage:
Seven years ago I sat down at a Cape League game with author Jim Collins for a recorded CodBall Conversation about his book, The Last Best League. Just recently I learned Jim had moved to my neck of the woods, Seattle, and has come out with a 10th Anniversary edition of his fine story about the league and its players. Will everyone writing about the Cape League eventually live in Seattle? Anyway, I immediately asked Jim to write an update for CodBall about his new edition. And I hope to take him to visit my West Coast League teams -- the Walla Walla Sweets and the Yakima Valley Pippins -- next season. Who knows, maybe there's another summer league book in him?
* * *
By Jim Collins
Fans of the Cape Cod League may be familiar with the book I wrote about a season in the league as experienced by the players on the 2002 Chatham A’s. As a writer and a former college player, I was curious about what it took to reach that high level — arguably the single best amateur baseball league in the world. Even more, I wanted to know what it might take to make it all the way to the major leagues. A big part of the Cape League’s appeal is the chance to spend summer evenings looking out on those simple ball fields, knowing you’re looking at future big league players, wondering which ones they’ll be, and why those and not the others.
Essentially, The Last Best League was about a brutal winnowing process, and about predicting the future, not just in Chatham but across the whole league: about young men dedicating themselves to a dream that only a fraction of them would end up accomplishing. The book ended with the following year’s amateur baseball draft, which marked the end of the story for some of the players I wrote about. For 20 of them, though, the results of the draft hinted at how much further their baseball dreams might go. The book, when it came out, shed light on the question, but in the end still left you left you wondering. It was kind of a tease that way.
Ten years later, I was given a gift that few writers get: a chance to go back and finish a story I’d begun to tell. The publisher of the book, Da Capo Press, invited me to track down all the players I’d written about back in that summer of 2002, and find out how their dreams had played out. As I’d later write in what turned out to be a new 12,000-word final chapter for the book’s 10th anniversary edition, I explored questions that no baseball player at age nineteen or twenty has the perspective to answer, questions I’d rarely seen asked in baseball literature: What does it mean for a young adult to have devoted his life to an almost-impossible goal, and to have made it? Or, more interestingly, to almost but not quite have made it? What were the choices and the costs? What does a dream look like in retrospect? How does the game itself look different?
Five of the players on that team made it all the way. (Two of them — pitcher Tim Stauffer in San Diego and catcher Chris Iannetta with the Angels — are still playing today.) Every one of the Chatham players had a story. Some were surprising to me. A couple were heartbreaking. Many were inspiring. They represent a fair sample of what happens to the college players who come to the Cape League each summer.
The next chapters of their lives have now started. But the book, I’m happy to say, is now complete.
Ryan Perez (Judson) impressed scouts this summer for a few reasons:
- He had great stats (39 strikeouts, 1.97 ERA in 27.1 innings pitched)
- He pitched a perfect inning in the 2014 CCBL All-Star Game and earned the West All-Star MVP
- He is ambidextrous (i.e. he can pitch with both arms)
His story makes him even more interesting. In fall 2011, Perez had Tommy John surgery on his right arm and was forced to throw exclusively with his left arm for a couple years. He learned how to throw with left arm when he was only 5 years old.
Perez pitched this summer for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, who were recently sent home after a playoff series loss to the Falmouth Commodores. Commissioner Paul Galop recently announced the round 2 schedule for the 2014 Cape League Playoffs.
For more on Perez, check out the following articles:
- Cape Cod Times - 'Switch pitcher' wows Cape Cod Baseball League
- CBS Sports - Meet Ryan Perez, the Cape Cod League's ambidextrous pitcher
- Fox News - Fully armed: Ambidextrous pitcher is wowing Cape Cod League with lefty, righty fastballs
- Baseball America - Cape Cod League Focus: Ryan Perez
The Cape Cod Times reported in an article recently how the Washington Redskins logo debate has renewed interest in local teams - including the Bourne Braves of the CCBL.
The Braves are likely safe, though. The Times reported that Nicole Norkevicius, Bourne Athletic Association President, hasn't heard any concerns raised about the team's name in her five years with the Braves. Additionally, the term "Brave" is unlikely to be viewed as derogatory, according to Fox Sports.
Bourne is home to the state-recognized Herring Pong Wampanoag Tribe and is close to the federally-recognized Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The Cape Cod Times mentioned that Nauset Public Schools dropped its Warrior image in 2008 as part of a compromise with members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
The Braves (10-3) currently lead the West Division and have a five-game winning streak.
Hyannis and Cotuit are two teams rolling out upgrades for the 2014 season.
Cotuit has all-new classically styled dugouts to go with the improvements they made last year at Lowell Park. Visit CapeHomepage on Flickr to see some photos. One thing missing from the new dugouts are the quotes on the wall (e.g. "Backyard baseball is a... passionate, instinctive, fun game!" and "Humility + teamwork always wins!").
Meanwhile, Hyannis will have new uniforms, a new "fuzzy blue" mascot, and field improvements. The team plans to hold a contest to name the new mascot. Read The Barnstable Patriot's article to learn more.
The 2014 season kicks off on Wednesday, June 11th. See the full schedule at capecodbaseball.org.
Bill Gates laughingly tells the story that he's not too popular at cocktail parties when he insists on talking about diarrhea. Turns out diarrhea kills many kids in the developing world, and his foundation is focused on trying to stop that. Why avoid an important topic, even if it's uncomfortable (no pun intended)?
Similarly, I am not too popular on my own blog when I talk about our abysmal record of attracting and retaining black baseball players. Seven years ago I wrote about the 'crisis' for CodBall, and raised it again a few years ago on a trip to the Dominican Republic, whose rising numbers in the MLB are helping to offset the sadly diminishing number of African American players in this country.
The New York Times weighs in again this week with an article about a new MLB report on the sobering number of African American players in the Big Leagues.
According to the league, only 8.3 percent of players on 2014 opening day rosters identified themselves as African-American or black. The highest percentage of African-Americans in the majors, according to research by Mark Armour of the Society of American Baseball Research, was 19 percent in 1986.
The league is reported to be focusing on three remedies: expanding Major League Baseball’s existing urban leagues and academies; improving and modernizing coaching; and more aggressively marketing players.
While the story acknowledges there are other ideas on the table, I don't understand why Major League Baseball would not prioritize a college baseball pipeline. We already know that players overall in this country can drive up their draft value by succeeding at the college level. Why not partner with the NCAA to create expanded college opportunities for African American players? The NCAA should insist on this as a major priority with or without the MLB.
What might this look like? It's not as simple as offering scholarships, although that would help. The NCAA and MLB should partner with the United Negro College Fund, historically black colleges and universities, the College Board, top charter schools like KIPP and get serious about building this pipeline. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the head of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, go on national news programs to talk about college basketball and football issues. Why not baseball?
The Cape League, the West Coast League and other summer collegiate leagues should be part of this pipeline. Don't we al want to see more Mo Vaughns, Albert Belles and Frank Thomases playing on elite summer diamonds?
Jim Collins, in his excellent book about the Cape League, wrote, that "the players in the Cape Cod League reflected not professional but college baseball." Chatham, the team he chronicled, didn't carry a single black or Latino player in 2002. It had just 14 black players dating back to 1990.
Last night at the Mariners and A's game I noticed that my favorite vendor, an African American man originally from South Shore High School in Brooklyn, had brought his family to the game while he worked. Dropping off some food for them and darting back to work, he told me that he had played baseball on his high school team. South Shore is now closed and he's found a better life in the Seattle area. He said his three year old lives and breathes baseball, which was apparent on Felix Hernandez appreciation night.
Let's hope the NCAA and MLB figure out how to keep youngsters like him interested in baseball and that we see them in summer college leagues and in increasing numbers on MLB fields.
When Frank Thomas (Orleans '88) is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July, he will become the third Cape League player in Cooperstown. According to the league's press release, Thomas and Fisk both played for Orleans (in '88 and '66 respectively) and were also both teammates on the White Sox for four seasons ('90-'93). The other Cape Leaguer in the hall is Harold "Pie" Traynor (Falmouth, 1919).
Craig Biggio (Y-D '86) was two votes away from joining Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine this year. Biggio will surely be inducted into the Hall next year, becoming the fourth Cape alum in the Hall.
Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (Orleans '06) headlined the 2014 class of the Cape League Hall of Fame. Ashley Crosby has the full story on the league site. Here is the list of inductees:
- Garrett Atkins (Cotuit, '98-'99; MLB Colorado '03-'09; MLB Baltimore '10)
- Daniel Carte (Falmouth, '04; MiLB '05-'09)
- Merrill Doane (longtime player, coach and administrator from Chatham)
- Ed Drucker (Harwich, '66)
- Mickey O'Connor (Chatham, '76)
- Jim Prete (Wareham ’66-67, ’70, Bourne ’68)
- Ryan Speier (Bourne '01, MLB Colorado '05 & '07-'09)
- Matt Wieters (Orleans, '06, MLB Baltimore '09-Present)
Related: MassLive posted a good rundown on the JFK Hyannis Museum. To visit the Cape League Hall of Fame, you need to buy admission to the JFK Museum. The Hall of Fame is in the basement of the building, and a great place to visit in the offseason, but make sure to check their website for hours.
A house - or summer house - on Cape Cod near a park is any baseball fan's dream. It can be a pain to park your car near some of the park (Chatham, Falmouth - I'm looking at you). Curbed Cape Cod has posted a list of 10 properties near the 10 parks - from Wareham to Orleans. View the list here or start saving for your down payment.
There could be some future Cape Leaguers playing in this video from San Diego State. The Aztecs have played this game three years straight now. Don't miss a special appearance by some famous winter Olympians at the 1:52 mark.
Game 1 of the World Series is tonight at 7:30pm eastern. The BlackFish restaurant in Truro posted a list of players on Facebook from both teams. This list is repeated below:
Boston Red Sox
- John Farrell - Manager (Hyannis '82)
- Jacoby Ellsbury - CF (Falmouth '04)
- David Ross - C (Brewster '96)
- Brandon Workman - P (Wareham '08-'09)
- Andrew Miller - P, DL (Chatham '04-'05)
St. Louis Cardinals
- Mike Matheny - Manager (Cotuit '89)
- Derek Lilliquist - Pitching Coach (Cotuit '86-'87)
- John Axford - P (Hyannis '02, Cotuit '03)
- Joe Kelly - P (Y-D '08)
- Randy Choate - P (Hyannis '96)
- Seth Maness - P (Bourne '09)
- Kolten Wong - 2B (Orleans '10)
- Shane Robinson - OF (Hyannis '04)
Brooke Healey (Student, Emory University) spent her summer on the Cape as a Field Reporter. She posted interviews on YouTube throughout the season, and this is her latest (and perhaps, her last) with CCBL President Judy Scarafile:
Cotuit Kettleer's Head Coach Mike Roberts won his 2nd Cape Cod Baseball League Championship this past summer. Roberts has now coached in the league 12 years (including two years with Wareham in 1984 and 2000). His teams have made the playoffs 75% of the time, which is a testament to Roberts' aggressive backyard baseball style. On July 4th, WVS Global posted a short-and-sweet interview with Roberts - with one of the fluffiest microphones I've ever seen. At 2:45 in the interview, Roberts tells a funny story about taking his team to an elementary school field to work on baserunning.
Today (August 31, 2013), WickedLocal posted a story about Roberts' busy life once the Cape League season ends. After the Kettleers won the championship, Coach Roberts drove down to Baltimore to watch his son Brian Roberts play a few games for the Orioles. Then, Coach Roberts continued the trip down to his home in North Carolina. During the Cape League off-season, Roberts: (1) runs a series of baserunning clinics across the country, (2 and 3) is a consultant at two companies, (4) is head of the sports management program at Asbury University (Lexington, KY), and (5) is an author about to publish his second book called "Baserunning" (Pre-order on Amazon). Make sure to go to WickedLocal to read the full story.
Here it is - the worst baseball card of all time according to an article on Slate Magazine. It just so happens that the subject of the card, Bob Hamelin, played for the 1987 Cape League champion Harwich Mariners. Other members of that championship squad were six other Major Leaguers, including Gary DiSarcina (now Manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox) and John Flaherty (who started his career with the Red Sox).
Hamelin earned 1994 AL Rookie of the Year honors with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs. His power at the plate earned him the nickname "The Hammer". After a six year Major League career, he retired abruptly in 1999 from the AAA Toledo Mud Hens after grounding out and telling his manager that he was done. Bob Hamelin is currently a scout for the Boston Red Sox.
Related: I found a May 31, 1986 article online from the Los Angeles Times announcing that Hamelin will play baseball for UCLA instead of pursuing a football scholarship at Notre Dame. The LA Times actually has a full archive of many articles about Hamelin.
The Cotuit Kettleers defeated the Orleans Firebirds to win their 2nd championship in the last four years. The Kettleers' YouTube channel has been very active this season and they posted one final "Kettle Talk" with post-game interviews.
Don't miss what happens to Head Coach Mike Roberts at 0:48 seconds in.
There's a new documentary series about the Cape League called "Cape Hope". Right Field Fog has an interview with the project's creator, Keith Chirgwin. The series follows four Cape Leaguers during the 2012 season: Mike Montville, Tyler Horan, Dace Kime and Kurt Schluter. Chirgwin hopes to find a network to air the first season, and also renew it follow-up seasons.
Dan Dunn (CCBL Hall of Fame curator , VP and Assistant GM of the Bourne Braves) will be talking about the league at Dennis Public Library on Thursday July 25, 2013 at 7pm. It's not clear why the library and Dunn chose a game day, but this is a great opportunity for those interested in some inside baseball (literally). Dennis Public Library announced this on their site on July 18, 2013. They mentioned that Dunn will bring some historical artifacts.
Here is the address:
Dennis Public Library 5 Hall Street Dennisport, MA 02639