Without any fanfare, Fox Sports released “Cape Cod: Journey to the Bigs” on their Vimeo account. If you haven't seen the 22-minute mini-documentary, it centers around the 2017 season and features interviews with volunteers, players, managers, alumni, scouts, and host families including Barbara Ellsworth (known as Mrs. E). Mrs. E. passed away on October 31, 2018, and was inducted posthumously to the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame on December 1, 2018.
It's December, and it’s time for an updated holiday gift guide!
Here are some gift ideas for Cape League fans:
Shop online at the league or a team store (not every team has an online store)
Cape Cod Baseball League Online Store
Great place to pick up an official ball or adjustable hat.
Brewster Whitecaps store
The Whitecaps Wave T-shirt is pretty cool.
Chatham Anglers store
Chatham usually has the best merch, but there doesn’t seem to be much this year. The heather royal tri-blend T-Shirt looks good.
Cotuit Kettleers store
Still the only franchise that sells a bobblehead player.
Harwich Mariners store
Not too much here There are hats, a sweatshirt, a car magnet, and 2018 program.
Wareham Gatemen store.
Lots of gear available from the 2018 champs and this seems to be the only store where you can get a CCBL winter hat!
Donate to the CCBL or the team of your choice in the name of a loved one.
A custom bat from the Barnstable Bat Company (just like the players use!). I recommend the stickball bat, which is an excellent replacement for the standard yellow wiffle ball bat. Place all Christmas orders by December 10th!
The 1998 Cape Cod Prospects baseball card set
This is my favorite baseball card set that I own. You can find the sets on eBay.
Browse capesports on eBay
The former Hyannis Sportscards in Hyannis continues to sell goods on eBay. There's always a few Cape League artifacts listed for sale.
Books or DVDs about the Cape League
The young adult novel Widball came out this year (read our interview with the author). Note: Slider (2004) is a novel loosely based on the league. Summer Catch (2001) is a cheesy movie starring Freddie Prinze Jr. that is a highly inaccurate portrayal of the league (but I love it anyway).
There are 14 former Cape League players in the 2018 World Series; six on the Boston Red Sox and eight on the Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s 35.7% of all players!
Boston Red Sox
RHP Matt Barnes (Wareham 2009-2010)
RHP Joe Kelly (Yarmouth-Dennis 2008)
LHP Chris Sale (Yarmouth-Dennis 2009)
1B Mitch Moreland (Bourne 2006-2007)
1B/OF Steve Pearce (Cotuit 2004)
OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (Hyannis 2009)
Los Angeles Dodgers
LHP Scott Alexander (Brewster 2009)
RHP Walker Buehler (Yarmouth-Dennis 2014)
RHP Dylan Floro (Hyannis 2011)
LHP Rich Hill (Chatham 2000-2001)
C Yasmani Grandal (Brewster 2008)
3B Justin Turner (Yarmouth-Dennis 2005)
IF Max Muncy (Wareham 2010-2011)
UTIL Chris Taylor (Yarmouth-Dennis 2011)
CapeCod.com reported on Tuesday 10/23 that each team has seven players each on their World Series rosters. However, that is inaccurate because they missed the latest team roster moves. Drew Pomeranz replaced Brandon Workman (Wareham 2008-2009) on the Red Sox roster. Scott Alexander (Brewster 2009) was added to the Dodgers roster, replacing Caleb Furguson.
CapeCod.com and the Cape Cod Times (“Standouts from Cape League to World Series”) incorrectly listed Steve Pearce as playing for Cotuit in 2007. He played for the Kettleers in 2004. Pearce played in the Pirates minor league system from 2005-2007, before being promoted to the bigs on September 1. 2007.
D1Baseball has completed their analysis of summer 2018 pitching performances from the Cape League and the Northwoods League. Their analysis seems pretty thorough; they even adjust for park effects.
Their top five list includes two stars from this past summer on the Cape:
The #1 overall pitcher is Orleans’ Kevin Kelly (JMU). Kelly was a 2018 All-Star and finished with the best overall ERA on Cape.
#3 is Chatham’s Alek Manoah (WVU). Manoah is ranked #5 on D1Baseball’s top college pitching prospects for the 2019 MLB draft.
Both Kelly and Manoah were named to the 2018 CCBL Year-End All League Team.
Fangraphs observed that the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League cracked the top 25 this year for average attendance among non-MLB franchises (see A Collegiate Summer Team Outdrew Most of the Minors). The Mallards’ average attendance per game was higher than many Minor League Baseball AAA franchises from the International League and Pacific Coast League.
Ballpark Digest has the complete stats: 2018 MiLB/SC/Indy Attendance by Average (search for CCL to see the Cape teams). Chatham and Hyannis finished in the top 200.
CodBall recently observed that attendance overall at summer league games increased slightly on the Cape this past year. Also, we noted that the Northwoods League, in particular, seems to have a recipe for success.
It’s exciting that collegiate summer ball franchises have the potential to attract more fans than professional minor league franchises. The statistics seem to indicate that many markets may have been deemed unsuitable for MiLB or independent leagues, yet still have a lot of fans that want to see high-quality baseball - at least in the summer months!
For the Cape League, attendance probably isn't likely to shift too much. Cape Cod is a popular tourist destination and also a bucket list trip for hardcore baseball fans, but it is not a significant market. What's compelling is if the product that the Cape League has could work in an online streaming format or via cable sports networks. In our last post, we mentioned that the former skipper for the Wareham Gatemen, Don Sneddon, thought television coverage of the playoffs could be a revenue stream for the league.
Don Sneddon, Field Manager for the Wareham Gatemen from 2017-2018, was quoted in a Wicked Local Marion article saying that the season is too long and the league must make changes.
From the article:
“It’s up to the administration of this league to make sure they are making some changes or this league will see hard times, in my opinion."
One fascinating point that Sneddon makes is that the league can do more to make money to make up for the lost revenue from a shortened season. He notes that the Championship had no television coverage. This certainly seems like something the league should explore since not everyone can make it to the Cape…
Isaac Collins (Creighton) not only earned a championship ring with Wareham this season, but he also snagged the #1 spot (!) on SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays this week. Check out the video proof in the tweets below:
It's hard to believe, but the summer 2018 Cape League season has wrapped up. The Wareham Gatemen, led by MVP Austin Shenton (FIU), swept the Chatham Anglers in the Championship Series.
While Wareham was busy capturing their first title since 2012, Ballpark Digest posted their annual attendance figures across all summer leagues (that reported figures):
Overall, this was a great season for summer ball! Cape League attendance numbers increased slightly over 2017. Per usual, Chatham had the highest reported figures with an average of 1840 fans per game. Compared to other summer leagues, the Cape's numbers trail far behind many Northwoods League franchises, including the Madison Mallards, who pulled an impressive 6249 fans per game this season. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Northwoods League is for-profit and operates in larger markets.
Interestingly, Wareham finished atop the Cape League this year but finished dead last in reported attendance.
Editor's note: It's playoff time! Stay tuned to @CodBall for our coverage
I'm not sure how I missed this one!
Matt Paré (aka the "Homeless Minor Leaguer") and Ty Kelly (MiLB, Las Vegas 51s) star in this hilarious skit that imagines how the 2001 romantic comedy Summer Catch (2001) came to be.
For the uninitiated (and you may want to stay that way), the CCBL is the setting for Summer Catch, which stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel.
Matt Paré announced his departure from baseball earlier this year after spending a few years in the Giants organization. In 2012, he was a temp player for the Y-D Red Sox before spending the majority of that summer with NECBL's Newport Gulls. Subscribe to HomelessMinorLeaguer on Youtube and his other channel Hey! Matt Paré.
Ty Kelly is a utilityman for the New York Mets organization, currently in AAA with the Las Vegas 51s. In 2008, he was a CCBL All-Star on the Brewster Whitecaps.
The Cape Cod Times has renewed their Cape League podcast, Cape League Corner, for a second season. The first episode of the 2018 season is out now and features an interview with Commissioner Paul Galop. Subscribe in iTunes or your preferred podcast app.
Sixteen former CCBL players were selected in the 2018 First-Year MLB Draft, including the first three overall picks. RHP Casey Mize (Wareham '16, Auburn) was selected first overall, catcher Joey Bart (Harwich '17, Georgia Tech) went second, and Alec Bohm (Falmouth '17, Wichita State) went third. See CapeCodBaseball.org for the full list of first-round selections.
For those keeping track, the CCBL seems to have had significantly more alumni selected in the MLB draft than any other collegiate summer league. The Northwoods League (previously blogged about) had one former player chosen in the first round.
In case you missed it, here's a video of Casey Mize being selected and below is a great tweet from him:
The Northwoods League ( NWL) is a collegiate summer baseball league in the Upper Midwest. Since founded in 1994, the NWL has grown to 20 teams with the most attendance of any summer league. TwinCities Business published an in-depth look at the league's history and finances: A League of His Own (May 25, 2018).
What makes the NWL possibly better than the CCBL?
- Games are at minor league-quality ballparks, some of which were vacated by Major League Baseball as they moved franchises further south for larger cities and better spring weather.
- The NWL and its franchises seem to have more money than any other summer league; this is because the NWL is for-profit, and teams operate in larger markets than the CCBL. More money means that the league and its franchises can invest more in the fan and player experience.
- The Grind. Unlike the CCBL, teams must take long bus rides to travel between cities, which more accurately replicates what a player will experience in the minors.
Ultimately, both leagues have their unique appeal. The NWL fills a void left by former Minor League and independent ball clubs in the Upper Midwest. The CCBL provides a nostalgic experience with town-based teams.
The most significant difference between the leagues? The CCBL has the top talent. In the 2017 MLB draft, 253 CCBL alumni were selected, with 10 players in the first round (CCBL's MLB Draft results). The NWL had 181 alumni selected, with no players in the first round (NWL's MLB Draft results).
Dunkin' Donuts Park will host the Tuesday, July 24, 2018 game between the Y-D Red Sox and the Wareham Gatemen. The Gatemen will likely be the home team since the official CCBL schedule still has the game listed at Wareham. The first pitch is scheduled for 12:30pm, which means that both teams will likely start their buses very early in the morning to practice beforehand. Tickets will be $10, according to NBC Connecticut.
This game is interesting for a couple reasons:
- It seems like the furthest (at least distance-wise) location a CCBL game has ever been played away from a team park. Dunkin' Donuts Park is a bit over 2 hours driving time (without traffic) from Clem Spillane Field in Wareham. It probably took longer for teams to travel to Nantucket and maybe Martha's Vineyard when games were played there.
- This marks a return to CCBL games being played off-Cape, which has received some backlash from fans in the past; especially with regards to when the All-Star Game was held at Fenway Park.
Fox Sports' special "Cape Cod: Journey to the Bigs" will premier on FS1 on Tuesday, April 17 at 11PM, following the Indians/Twins game and MLB Whiparound. The special will also air on Fox Sports' regional networks on April 18 (check your local listings).
The special follows three players who played in the 2017 season: Griffin Conine (Cotuit, Duke), Tristan Pompey (Wareham, Kentucky) and Chandler Day (Orleans, Vanderbilt).
Read more about the special on Fox Sports, and watch the trailer below.
Jake Anchia (Nova Southeastern University) made some noise with Wareham this past summer. He led the team in RBIs (20) and home runs (5). He also participated in the 2017 Friendly's Home Run Hitting Contest and led the West Division with four home runs.
The Miami Herald posted a great story about Anchia and his father's success in immigrating from Cuba. His father boarded a shrimp boat when he was 11, started a family, and worked his way up to deputy fire chief in Miami Beach. Jake said, “My dad is an inspiration... He came here not knowing any English. He lost his father when he was only 20. But he still worked hard to pursue the American Dream... If he could pull all that off, then I feel like I can do it without a problem.”
Anchia is the starting catcher for the NSU Sharks and is in his junior year.
Author of Wildball, a Cape League-inspired novel out April 12, 2018
Author of Wildball, a Cape League-inspired novel out April 12, 2018
Brian, thanks for reaching out to CodBall and congratulations on nearing the publication date of Wildball. You started work on the young adult fiction novel in October 2014 - what inspired you to start writing it at the time?
I was inspired to write the story after going through a rough time in Hollywood. I interned at two film production companies for my last semester of BU, and I was verbally bullied by superiors at both workplaces. When I came back home to the Cape afterward, I needed to write about the experience in order to make sense of it and move forward. So I decided to tell a story about an athlete and his coach instead of an intern and his superior. It made things a little less raw for me but still allowed me to explore that dynamic between a naive student and a severe mentor.
You're from Falmouth, and I imagine you've been to many Commodores games. What was it like growing up on the Cape and being around the League?
Growing up here, I didn't appreciate what a special thing it was to have a Cape League team in my hometown. As a kid, it was more of a social thing to meet friends at a Commodores game, but I didn't follow the action. The last few summers I've been to a bunch of games, not only as book research but also because I'm a bigger baseball fan now. It's been cool to see my Falmouth circle and the Commodores family start to blend. Over the years some of my friends have interned for the team. And interns for the Commodores have gotten summer jobs at Coffee O, the cafe where I work.
Sarah Murphy's 2017 Wicked Local article mentions you volunteered with the league and Falmouth Community Television a few summers ago. What were your responsibilities, and how was that experience?
I volunteered at a playoff game in August of 2014. Commodores vs. Kettleers I think. FCTV had been contracted to broadcast some Cape League games that summer, and they knew I was interested in sports, so they asked for my help. I was set up at a computer where I changed numbers for the game's stat-tracker. I'd click on the first diamond when a runner made it to first, or I'd change the numbers for how many balls and strikes during the at-bats. It was a small role, but it was a way I could bring my skill-set into the world of the Cape League.
The only downside was it was a long game. Pretty sure it went into extras. The two guys we had working the cameras left as the night went on. I wanted to bail too, but my supervisor encouraged me to stick it out. I'm glad I did because that was the night I started getting ideas for my book.
You used Publishizer, a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding site for authors without publishers, to gain support for Wildball (then known as This River is Wild). You’re now collaborating with Black Rose Writing for publication this year. What has the process of working with them been like, and has it been different than your expectations?
So far I've discovered that a smaller publishing house means creative freedom. I don't know what it's like for writers at bigger houses, but Black Rose has been supportive of my vision. They've let me change the story without objecting and the cover art designer Dave King is supposed to be very collaborative. Reagan Rothe is the man in charge at Black Rose, and I got lucky that he has a love for baseball. His brother played in the Minors in Texas, and Reagan wrote a book called Dreams and Baseball before he switched over to publishing. I think that connection helped my book find a home.
It seems like you have a lot going on in your life - wrapping up the novel, tutoring students in writing, and working on your music. What are you most passionate about, and what do you think you will focus on in the future?
Unfortunately, I've had to put music on the back burner with the book taking off. I toured as a bassist for Milk last year which was a blast. Their record Horsetown Threshold just made a 2017 Best-of List on DigBoston. Tutoring is still a big part of my life, but I've had to start turning down gigs since the rollout for the book takes up a big chunk of time each week.
Right now I'm most passionate about writing. Wildball has been a 3+ year labor of love, so I want to put the same amount of energy into promoting it as I did when I was creating it. This year will involve local events on the Cape and if I play my cards right, a national book tour. Once that's through it'll be time to start the next book, which is a continuation of Wildball. Hopefully, people will be hungry for it.
Pavin Smith (Harwich 2016) made national headlines this week with a Christmas tweet.
Pavin used his Arizona Diamondbacks signing bonus to pay off his parents' mortgage. Check out the video below or on Twitter.
In 2016, Pavin hit .318 for the Mariners with 48 hits and four homers. He was an All-Star for the East and selected to the 2016 All-League Team. The Diamondbacks picked him in the 2017 MLB draft and he is ranked as the top prospect in their system.
The Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame will not be open anytime soon. Definitely not by Spring 2018, and probably not by Spring 2019.
A Cape Cod Times article about Mike Sherman (Managing Partner of Total Athletics of Cape Cod), says that the brakes have been put on the 92,000-square-foot Cape Cod Training Center. Sherman said he is "aiming to get a finance team and investors onboard by the beginning of spring." The Training Center was announced to be the new home of the Hall of Fame in March, after the Hall of Fame was moved out of the basement of the JFK Museum on Main Street, Hyannis in January.
Unfortunately, this news means the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame is very likely homeless for 2018.