I don't usually take press releases, but tonight's Game 7 between the Rays and Red Sox deserves a good, solid salute to those who played on the Cape before they lived the dream. Below is a great piece from Joe Sherman about tonight's players.
CCBL Press Release (Original press release at Capecodbaseball.org)
Regardless of the outcome of tonight's ALCS game six in St. Petersburg, the Cape Cod Baseball League, America's premier summer collegiate league, would like to congratulate our graduates who are participating in this historic series.
Ten members of the playoff roster of the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox are CCBL alumni, as are four players on the newly crowned AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, one Boston coach and two TV sportscasters covering the series have Cape League roots. Here is the complete list:
BOSTON: Jason Bay (Chatham 99), Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth 00 --CodBall note: This should be 04), Mark Kotsay (Bourne 94), Kevin Youkilis (Bourne 00), Kevin Cash (Falmouth 99), Sean Casey (Brewster 94), Javier Lopez (Falmouth 97), Jason Varitek (Hyannis 91 & 93), Justin Masterson (Wareham 05) and David Ross (Brewster 96). Also, pitching coach John Farrell (Hyannis 82). Inactive -- David Aardsma (Falmouth 02) and Mike Lowell (Chatham 94).
TAMPA BAY: Carlos Pena (Harwich 96 & Wareham 97), Evan Longoria (Chatham 05), Jason Bartlett (Harwich 00) and J.P. Howell (Bourne 02 & Wareham 03). Inactive -- Eric Hinske (Hyannis 97) and Jeff Niemann (Harwich 02 & 03).
BROADCASTERS: TBS Sports booth analyst Ron Darling (Cotuit 80) and NESN contributing reporter Lou Merloni (Bourne 91 & Cotuit 92).
Four of the men mentioned above are honored members of the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. They are Darling and Varitek (both Class of 2002), and Casey and Pena (both Class of 2003). Slightly edited versions of their CCBL Hall of Fame bios follow: Ron Darling, Pitcher, Cotuit Kettleers (Class of 2002) Ron Darling was one of the best all-around players in Cape League history. During 1980, he was voted league MVP, selected to the All-Star Team and won the Outstanding Pro Prospect Award. Darling also batted .336 with six home runs and 26 RBI, while going 4-3 as a pitcher. In the CCBL All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium against the Atlantic Collegiate League, he singled, doubled and homered, and drove in two runs. Darling capped off his performance by coming in from left field, with the score 10-9 and two runners on, and retiring the final two batters. Ron pitched in one of the greatest pitching match-ups in college history when his Yale squad faced St. John's in the 1981 NCAA Regional. St. John’s, behind pitcher Frank Viola, won, 1-0, in 12 innings. Darling finished with a one-hitter, including a no-hitter through 11 innings. He spent 13 years in the major leagues with the New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Montreal Expos, compiling a 136-116 record with a 3.87 ERA. He was a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets.
Jason Varitek, Catcher, Hyannis Mets (Class of 2002) Jason Varitek sandwiched two seasons (1991 and 1993) in the Cape League around a stint with Team USA in 1992. After hitting a respectable .263 in '91, the switch-hitting backstop returned to win the CCBL's Pat Sorenti Award as the League MVP and Thurman Munson Award with the highest batting average (.371) in 1993, while also compiling a .514 on-base percentage and a .552 slugging average. A teammate of fellow Hall of Fame inductee Nomar Garciaparra at Georgia Tech, Varitek was a three-time consensus All-America -- in 1992, '93 and '94. Jason was drafted in the first round by Minnesota in 1993 and then Seattle in 1994 and eventually played for the Mariners before being traded along with pitcher Derek Lowe to Boston, where he has become one of the top catchers in the game.
Sean Casey, Brewster Whitecaps player (Class of 2003) Sure-fielding field baseman Sean Casey enjoyed a banner season for the Brewster Whitecaps in 1994, hitting .338 with one homer and 40 RBI. The University of Richmond product also produced 12 doubles and 19 runs scored that summer. Casey led the league’s first baseman in fielding percentage (.993), putouts (384) and total chances (415) while being named CCBL Player of the Week twice and also being selected a Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star. He ended the season with an 11-game hitting streak during which he hit .488 and drove in 11 runs. Casey was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians and more recently was the starting first baseman with the Cincinnati Reds and one of the top players in the National League. He's now a valued reserve player for the Boston Red Sox.
Carlos Pena, Harwich Mariners & Wareham Gatemen player (Class of 2003) Slugging first baseman Carlos Pena played at Harwich in 1996, then led the Wareham Gatemen to the 1997 Cape League championship, batting .318 with eight home runs and 33 RBI. He was the 18th player to win two-thirds of the CCBL Triple Crown. The Northeastern University product out of Haverhill, Mass., also scored 25 runs and accounted for 84 total bases and a .545 slugging percentage. A sure-handed first baseman, Pena set records for consecutive chances (416) without an error and consecutive games (43) without an error. Carlos had a five-RBI game against Hyannis and clouted two home runs in one game vs. Cotuit. He was selected as recipient of the Pat Sorenti Award as Most Valuable Player in the league and the Daniel J. Silva Award for Sportsmanship, and was named to both the CCBL West Division All-Stars and the All-League team. He was a first-round draft choice of the Texas Rangers, later played for the Oakland A's, Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox and is now one of the mainstays of baseball’s Cinderella team, the Tampa Bay Rays. His younger brother, Omar, played for the Hyannis Mets in 2002.
The Cape League wishes the best of luck to all of its alumni who are battling for the opportunity to advance to baseball's ultimate showdown, the 2008 World Series.