The Cape Cod Baseball League felt quite near today even though I was in Seattle. First, we watched Tim Lincecum (Harwich Mariners) as he was presented today in Seattle with the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. The award is given each year to the baseball player who exhibits exceptional athletic ability AND exemplary sportsmanship. Past winners of this prestigious award include current Major League Baseball stars Robin Ventura, Jason Varitek, Mark Kotsay and Phil Nevin, as well as 2001 winner Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs.
Tim spoke during the halftime break of the University of Washington v. Oregon State University basketball game. He thanked coaches and fans, but took a moment to thank his dad, who he said was his inspiration.
Second, J.J. Putz (Pictured) of the Seattle Mariners (Y-D ’97 / Hyannis ’98) recalled for me today that his experience on the Cape was one of the best things about his baseball career. This comment from a major league closer who recently signed a three-year, $13.1 million deal with Seattle.
J.J. took time this evening to sign autographs at the Mariner’s FanFest. As fans filed by wishing him a good season, I spoke up and said, “hey, you pitched on the Cape, how was that?” He looked up from the table, smiled and began to talk about the Cape and how it was such an important decision and opportunity for him. His response captured so well the formative role CCBL plays in the careers of so many professional baseball players. Lincecum this week was named by Baseball America as the #3 pitching prospect in the major leagues and Putz has emerged as a Big League closer. On a rare sunny day in Seattle today – at the University of Washington and then cross-town at Safeco Field – I was reminded of the Cape’s long arm of influence in American baseball.
(PHOTO: Hyannis catcher Andrew Riepe waits at the plate for both the throw and the runner in Thursday's season-opener at McKeon Field in Hyannis. Mets pitcher J.J. Putz (on the ground, left) delivered the toss in time to foil the attempted suicide squeeze, an important late-inning out in the Mets 4-3 win, 10-inning win over Yarmouth-Dennis. Special thanks to the Barnstable Patriot.)