Friendly's Ice Cream has inked a deal to become the title sponsor of the 2013 CCBL All-Star Game and the official ice cream of the CCBL. This year's All-Star Game will be on Saturday, July 27, at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth (Home of the Y-D Red Sox). According to a Friendly's press release, Friendly's was the first ever title sponsor of the CCBL All-Star in 1992 at Whitehouse Field in Harwich (Home of the Harwich Mariners). In January 2012, Friendly's emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (Wikipedia). They closed 100 restaurants since their bankruptcy filing. Cape Cod has three Friendly's restaurants: Hyannis, Falmouth, and Sagamore Beach.
The Bourne Braves' announcer Kevin McGonagle auditioned in January to become the next Fenway Park public address announcer. Unfortunately, it does not seem likely that McGonagle will be selected for the position since the Red Sox should have already flown him down to Fort Myers to try his voice out in Spring Training. The Enterprise/capenews.net has the full story on their site with a fascinating look into the process.
Here is the link to the 2013 Orleans Firebirds roster: http://www.orleansfirebirds.com/roster-2/ At this time, only 13 players appear on the roster. It looks like Vanderbilt LHP Philip Pfeifer is the only returnee. UMass-Lowell RHP Garrett Cole was on the early-season roster for Orleans last year, but he did not play for the Firebirds.
North Carolina head coach Mike Fox has indicated that RHP Trevor Kelley may open the season as the closer for the Tar Heels.
We will take a closer look at the roster as more players are added.
Here is the link to the recently released Hyannis Harbor Hawks roster: http://harborhawks.org/roster/ It looks like Stanford outfielder Dominic Jose and UAB infielder/outfielder Jeff Schalk are the only returnees. Jose batted .272 with 6 HR, 12 RBI, and had an .857 OPS last summer. Schalk hit .200 for the 2012 Hawks.
Florida State has reported that sophomore RHP Mike Compton has a right elbow sprain and is out indefinitely.
Andrew Thome comes to Hyannis from the University of North Dakota. Let us know if you can recall another Cape Leaguer from UND.
Drew Stankiewicz' (IF; Arizona State) father, Andy, played seven seasons in the major leagues for the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Montreal Expos and Arizona Diamondbacks. Shane Zeile's (C/IF; UCLA) uncle, Todd Zeile, played for eleven different teams over a 15-year major league career.
Former North Carolina pitcher Jimmy Messer has joined Chad Gassman's coaching staff. Messer pitched for the Harbor Hawks in 2010.
From the Boston College baseball twitter account (@BCBirdBall): "Head coach Mike Gambino announced senior catcher Matt Pare will wear No. 8 in honor of Sonny Nictakis." Pare was a temp player for Yarmouth-Dennis last year. He spent the balance of his summer playing for the Newport Gulls of the NECBL. Pare batted .344 with 5 HR and 17 RBI in the regular season and added 2 homeruns and 4 RBI while batting .467 in Newport's six playoff games.
In honoring Pare, Gambino is continuing a tradition he started two years ago by selecting a player to wear No. 8 in honor of former player Peter "Sonny" Nictakis. Each season, a player who has battled adversity and represents the best qualities of Boston College baseball will wear Nictakis' old number.
Sonny Nictakis was a two-time captain for the Eagles in 1998-99 who lost his courageous battle with Hodgkin's disease in the summer of 2000. Until 2011, the number 8 jersey had not been worn since 1999. In 2011, Gambino chose senior outfielder Mike Sudol to be the first to wear the number. Last year's recipient of this honor was senior pitcher Kyle Prohovich.
Here is a quick Q & A from the University of Florida website with sophomore outfielder Justin Shafer. Shafer played for Yarmouth-Dennis in 2012 and is expected to return to the Red Sox this summer. http://www.gatorzone.com/story.php?id=24705
On January 10th, the Falmouth Commodores hosted a fundraiser for renovating the Eric Palmer Memorial Press Box at Guv Fuller Field. The event was held at the New Seabury Country Club in Mashpee and featured incoming Red Sox manager John Farrell, Miami Marlins closer and Falmouth High School grad Steve Cishek, 2011-2012 Red Sox relief pitcher and free agent Rich Hill, former Commodores manager Jeff Trundy, and Cape Codder/Yankee scout Matt Hyde.
WickedLocal Yarmouth posted a great summary of the event, written by Sarah Murphy. Sarah explained John Farrell's association with the CCBL:
Farrell, who pitched for the Hyannis Mets in 1982, said his family’s connection to the Cape Cod Baseball League, particularly the Commodores, runs deep. All three of his sons, Jeremy, Shane and Luke, played for Falmouth, and Luke also played for the Wareham Gatemen. Tim Schorer of Falmouth housed the Farrell boys, and his relationship with the family made Farrell’s appearance at the event possible.
Additional photos of the event can be found on the Falmouth Commodores website.
The University of South Alabama posted a short-and-sweet interview with 1st baseman/left-handed pitcher Jordan Patterson about his 2012 experience with the Bourne Braves. He talked about how it is "overwhelming" at first to use wood bats and also face the top pitchers in college baseball. My favorite part of the interview was when he talked about being a bit of a local celebrity:
You go to the gas station or somewhere, and the people in the community recognize you and know what is going on. They know the history of the league – the community is so involved because there is so much history to it. They enjoy it and care about it, and that makes it a great experience.
In the regular season, Patterson batted .263 for the Braves with 35 hits in 40 games. He had six hits in the Braves' playoff run, which ended on August 13th with a loss to the Wareham Gatemen in the semifinals. The Gatemen went on to win the 2012 CCBL Championship.
Check out the Cotuit Kettleers roster that was recently posted at http://www.kettleers.org/roster/ Name recognition doesn't win games, let alone championships, but the Kettleers have a very impressive group of players heading to Lowell Park if their roster looks anything like this on June 12.
Vanderbilt will once again be well-represented on Cotuit's roster with RHP Tyler Beede (Auburn, MA.), LHP Brian Miller, RHP Carson Fulmer and OF Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield, MA.) expected to suit up for the Kettleers. Beede, was named ESPNBoston.com's Mr. Baseball in 2011 after starring at Lawrence Academy. He was named a 2012 SEC Freshman All-American. Beede was drafted in the first round (21st overall) by Toronto in the 2011 MLB Draft, and was the only first round pick not to sign that year. Wiseman was tabbed as Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year last year while attending Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge.
Stanford infielder Danny Diekroeger played very well through the playoffs for Yarmouth-Dennis last summer after signing with the Red Sox late in the season. Drew Jackson, another Cardinal infielder, will be following in the footsteps of his brother Brett who played for Cotuit in 2008. Brett now plays for the Chicago Cubs.
Returnees from Cotuit's 2012 team include UNC-Wilmington RHP Jordan Ramsey (2-0; 4.35 ERA; 31 IP), Arizona State LHP Adam McCreery (1-1; 5.46 ERA; 29.2 IP), Florida International catcher Aramis Garcia (.250; 3 HR; 14 RBI) and Coastal Caroliona RHP/INF Patrick Corbett who appeared in just one game last summer.
As with all of these early roster postings, CodBall will take a closer look at the 2013 Kettleers as we get closer to the start of the season.
Here is the link to the 2013 Mariners roster: http://harwichmariners.org/index.cfm?base=4 As with all the teams, we will take an in-depth look at the roster over the course of the next few months. One word of caution though.... if you see Notre Dame RHP Pat Connaughton hanging around a basketball court this summer, don't challenge him to a game of H-O-R-S-E!
The Wareham Gatemen and the Bourne Braves will have new next-door neighbors next summer when the Plymouth Pilgrims join the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Here is the story by David Wolcott at Wicked Local: http://www.wickedlocal.com/scituate/sports/x1922381103/NECBL-will-field-a-baseball-team-in-Plymouth-in-2013#axzz2Fv1pSoBj
Our friend Joe Cavanaugh has been staying up-to-date with the Lowell Park Capital Improvements Project. Check out his photos on his Flickr photoset. As of December 20th, it looks like they now have the foundation for the updated restroom facility.
We last blogged about The Campaign for Lowell Park on July 6th.
Thank you to all of our readers for another great year with CodBall. We hope that you are all enjoying a few days off with your friends and families. We are 170 days away from the first pitches of the 2012 CCBL season at Lowell Park and Red Wilson Field on June 12th. The last bit of CCBL news for the year (probably) was a picture of Gary Gateman showing off the 2012 trophy in the Wareham parade.
We recently launched a new site design for CodBall, which should work very well on smartphones, tablets, and full-sized screens. We went back to a simple layout, and we hope to fill it in with pictures and video from the 2013 season.
Thank-you to the Bourne Braves for giving Cape Cod League fans a hint of what is to come! Here is the link to the first of the 2013 rosters to be released: http://bournebraves.org/baseball/bourne-braves-roster/ We will take a closer look at the names on the Braves roster soon. After all, there are "only" 197 days til Opening Day!
Some notes about a few items that have crossed the desk recently.... Tim Lincecum (Harwich; '05) restored some of the shine to his star with his outstanding postseason performance. Who would have thought back in April that Lincecum might be trade bait six months later? That may be the case now since he is due $22 million in the last year of his contract and the Giants likely won't want to pay that money if they don't think Lincecum will return to his pre-2012 dominant starting role. One interesting possibility being mentioned in the Boston media would be a Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth; '04) for Lincecum deal. The Red Sox need starting pitching and the Giants are supposedly looking for long-term stability in centerfield.
Alex Hassan (Orleans; '08, '09 ) is said to have a great understanding of the strike zone and he finished with a .377 OBP with Class AAA Pawtucket. The following report on Hassan was taken from SoxProspects.com: "Brings a plan to the plate. Grinds out at-bats. Can struggle with sharp breaking balls. Average power ceiling. Does not drive ball well to opposite field. Tends to hit with too much upper body and produce topspin. Below-average speed. On the slow side tracking balls in left field. Average range. Not overly athletic in field. Fringe-average defender in left field. Plus arm. Value on roster is heavily tied into offensive production." The consensus seems to be that he doesn't possess the power to hit as a corner outfielder and he may not be added to the Red Sox 40-man roster any time soon.
Randy Choate (Hyannis; '96) set a record while pitching for the Marlins and the Dodgers this season by appearing in 80 games but not factoring in a decision.
Jedd Gyorko (Brewster; '09) hit .328 with 24 HR and 83 RBI in just 92 games with Class AAA Tucson. Before posting those numbers, Gyorko was thought to be San Diego's third baseman of the future. That may no longer be the case though now that Chase Headley is coming off a career year while manning the hot corner for the Padres. Gyorko's range is probably not good enough for San Diego to consider a move to second base.
New Boston manager John Farrell (Hyanis; '82) isn't the only Farrell in the news. His son, Shane, is now an amateur scouting assistant with the Chicago Cubs. Shane is just 23 years old and was said to be in demand after spending this past summer scouting the CCBL. Shane appeared in three games for Falmouth in 2009 before an injury cut short his time on the Cape.
The NCAA College World Series is scheduled to run from June 15-26 next year.
It's hard to turn away from the television when news reports are showing the devestation in the New York / New Jersey area. Thoughts and prayers to all who are dealing with this disaster.
Dan Dunn is the new President of the Bourne Braves, replacing Tom Fink who served in that capacity for many years. Dunn took on the role of Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Braves last year. He will retain the Assistant G.M. title while his father-in-law, Chuck Sturtevant, continues to serve as General Manager. Nicole Norkevicius will assume the Vice President duties.
Jeanne Flynn, longtime team Secretary, has decided to step down from that position.
When I posted on my twitter account last Friday that Jeff Trundy would not be brought back as manager of the Falmouth Commodores - although no official announcement had been made at that time - little did I realize what a firestorm was already raging over the termination of Trundy's tenure. Dan Donato, a former Falmouth player, has been hired by General Manager Bob Clark to take the reins in the Commodores dugout next summer. Donato is the Associate Director of Admissions for Dexter School and is also the head baseball and hockey coach at the Brookline, MA. school. Donato and Clark are both graduates of Catholic Memorial HS in West Roxbury, MA. Johnny Magliozzi, a sophomore righthanded pitcher from Florida who played for the Commodores this summer, played for Donato at the Dexter School.
Soon after the news broke that Trundy would not be back, I heard from a few people within the Falmouth organization. Those who emailed me or sent messages via twitter were all staunchly in Trundy's corner.
The sentiment from former Commodore players is direct and to the point with "Bring back Jeff Trundy" being the common refrain. Here are a few examples of recent tweets from players. Jared King: "Bring back Trundy! Best manager on the Cape." Drew Dosch: "It's an absolute shame to let a coach like that go!" Max White "Trundy a great motivator and a great coach!" John Colella: "Coach Trundy is the @FalCommodores."
The message I am hearing from those who are close to the organization is even stronger. One of the main points of frustration with the situation is the claim that Clark made the decision to fire Trundy without approval of the Board of Directors. I'm told that, per the organization's bylaws, the President and G.M. can not hire or dismiss without approval of the Board of Directors.
I have also been told that there is an organizational meeting scheduled for this evening. One insider pointedly told me to expect the meeting to be a "bloodbath." Another told me that it is his hope that Clark is ousted from his position and that Trundy is re-hired. The majority opinion of those who have spoken to me is that although some folks would like to see that happen, it isn't likely. Stay tuned.
In the world of sports, the second and third weeks of August on Cape Cod compare favorably with other place-based sporting events like Spain’s running of the bulls or an Olympics venue in some picturesque setting. For those two weeks on the Cape fans are treated to a colorful pageant where local townspeople and tourists alike are caught up in an intimate but competitive tournament full of rivalries and passion-filled story lines. As temperatures soar and humidity drenches, the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs and championship series entertains, intensifies and ultimately draws Cape communities together.
The Cape League All-Star Game is for the scouts. The Championship Series is for the fans.
Regardless, the Cape League’s 10 teams remain the place where a fan can see MLB greats long before their names are known.
This season’s championship series will be remembered by many insiders as one of the best. That the Wareham Gatemen defeated the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox 8-6 in 10 innings is a fact. It is how we got there that will remain with me as a highlight of my summer.
The bright orange sun that sank slowly toward home plate on the lastFriday night of the season was a fitting metaphor for a summer collegiate baseball league that was coming to an end. “They’re the last team standing,” Wareham manager Cooper Farris told the Cape Cod Times. “All of the other collegiate leagues are finished, and they’re the last team standing.”
Good thing 11 innings weren’t necessary because Red Wilson Field has yet to install lights.
The Wareham squad, with it fearsome bunch of mashers in the heart of the order and true hitters spread everywhere else in the line-up, just never gave up. They found ways to win. And they relied on the long ball.
Wareham’s Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) will be remembered for setting the Cape League homerun record with 16 regular season dingers and several more in the postseason. His 10th inning blast to right put his Gatemen up 8-5 in the decisive 3rd game.
But it was the Gatemen’s play in the western division title game that showed me their mettle. Wareham, playing in Bourne, came out ahead in a see-saw battle that rocked back and forth inning-by-inning. In that game, Horan hit a two-run homer to leftfield in the 5th to put his team ahead. It would be the shape of things to come.
In the next few years look for Horan, Tyler Ross, Kyle Schwarber (Championship Series MVP, pictured below), Dan Palka, Mott Hyde, Dustin DeMuth. This class of Wareham hitters will be tearing up minor and major league parks for years to come.
And how proud must my old friend John Wylde be of his Gatemen? Sitting up there in the finest press box there is. I couldn’t help thinking about John throughout this postseason. His plaque was the first I went to find this past week when I visited the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame in Hyannis.
On my score sheet in Bourne I noted that the Wareham fans travelled well. And they continued to travel well at Y-D. I also noted in the first game of the championship series that “Wareham’s bruisers in the middle are persistent.”
It is ironic that 2012 is the year of the homerun in the Cape League. But in the Big Leagues it is the year of the pitcher. As I sat in the Y-D stands for Game 1 of the championship series news trickled in over Twitter and Facebook that Felix Hernandez had just pitched a perfect game for the Seattle Mariners. In fact, Seattle has seen three no-hitters in their ballpark this season alone.
In the league where so many Major Leaguers play their summers, the opposite was true.
In an email exchange with the Cape League's statistician, Chris Thoms, I learned that the League is looking carefully at homerun totals. 'I'm just trying to get everything in one place so I can get a sense of game by game records as well as season records," Chris told CodBall.
One thing he is studying is the hunch that Y-D's ballpark produces "far more" homeruns than other Cape League fields.
"From our research from the past three seasons so far, that has proved to be entirely true," according to Thoms.
I did a little sleuthing to compare this season with last and found that team ERAs increased from 3.31 in 2011 to 4.25 in 2012. Team SLG is up from .337 in 2011 to .391 this season.
Get this: total homeruns in the league last season was 159. In 2012 total long-balls jumped to 384.
Is it the new ball purchased by the league as reported here before or is this a class of players that pre-sages a change a few years down the road from pitching to bashing?