The traffic may not be in full effect but the start of the summer is rapidly approaching.
While some may look to Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of summer on Cape Cod, sports enthusiasts await the arrival of the nation’s best amateur ball players to cross the bridge to know the seasons have changed.
Beginning on Monday, June 10, the 2019 Cape Cod Baseball League will commence, starting with the Cotuit Kettleers hosting the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Lowell Park at 5 PM and the eight other teams squaring off shortly thereafter in their respective parks.
The raspy voice of Ivan Partridge, a fixture at Kettleers home games, shouting his iconic catchphrase “Have a hit!” will undoubtedly be blasting through the loudspeakers. Tourists and locals alike will pack up their SUVs—complete with beach chairs, ball gloves and even a furry four-legged friend—and park themselves along either baseline prepared to watch baseball in its purest form. There are no gimmicks. There is no shtick. Only baseball. And for those who still have the attention span to follow a sport with no game clock, nothing else is necessary.
But no matter where you catch a Cape League game this summer, provided it is at one of the 10 home teams’ ballparks and not, say, in Hartford, Connecticut, attendees will get their money’s worth. (Of course, the games are free). And if last year’s championship series was any indication, the 2019 season will continue to provide the proverbial bang for the fans’ buck.
The Wareham Gatemen, the lone team that resides over the bridge, are the reigning CCBL champions, defeating the East Division champion Chatham Anglers in two games for the franchise’s eighth CCBL title. That two-game series spanned the course of three days, due to the vaunted low-hanging fog that surrounds Veteran’s Stadium, the home of the Anglers, that delayed Game 2. That, of course, is one of the better home-field advantages you’ll find in the entire game.
The season is short, but very much a marathon—featuring 44 regular season games over the course of seven weeks, with just nine built-in off days and two doubleheaders.
For Major League scouts, and there’s plenty of them, it creates the perfect storm of getting to see the best of the best in a small surface area. They can catch the first few innings at Yarmouth-Dennis’ Red Wilson field before hopping on Route 6, travel east for four exits to catch the middle relievers at Bourne’s Doran Park and end their night over the bridge at the Gatemen’s Spillane Field for the nightcap and maybe see an old-fashioned Wareham walk-off. Just be mindful, the further east you travel, the less likely you are at seeing night games.
For those new to the best amateur summer league in the nation, look no further than the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft—which took place this week—for a reason to watch. Not only was the first overall pick, Adley Rutschman (Oregon State), an alum of the Falmouth Commodores, but three of the top four selections (Andrew Vaughn, Wareham ‘18, third overall; JJ Bleday, Orleans ‘18, fourth overall) have Cape League roots. In total, 14 former Cape Leaguers were selected in the first round.
And if that’s not convincing enough, go back to last season’s World Series between the hometown Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, where a combined 14 CCBL alum were on the World Series roster—including Boston’s Chris Sale (Yarmouth-Dennis ‘09) taking the ball for Game 1. Other notable players included the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler (Yarmouth-Dennis ‘12), Max Muncy (Wareham ‘05), and Yasmani Grandal (Brewster ‘10-’11) while the Red Sox boasted such alums as Mitch Moreland (Bourne ‘06-’07), Steve Pearce (Cotuit ‘04) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (Hyannis ‘09).
So in-between your trips to the beach and backyard clambakes, round up the kids and take in the future stars of tomorrow today. Just be sure to pack a Sharpie. You’ll never know who the next MLB all-star will be who signs your son or daughter’s souvenir.