The following story was originally published by the Hyannis Harbor Hawks at www.Harborhawks.org and is reposted with their permission.
Written by Matt Neiser
“I was hoping that they would give me a call.”
Sitting at home in Walpole, Massachusetts, Ian Fair wasn’t sure what the rest of his summer had in store. A rising junior at Northeastern University, Fair had just gotten his first taste of Cape League baseball with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. He did so on a temporary contract – a short-term agreement to help fill out the team’s roster while they waited for some of the full-contract players to arrive from places such as the College World Series and Team USA tryouts.
Fair spent a week with the team to begin the season, going a combined three-for-seven (.429 average) with a walk in two games, before being released by the team on June 17 to make room for incoming players. With no promise from the Harbor Hawks to bring him back and no other offers on the table, Fair spent the next couple weeks staying in shape and pitching himself to potential teams.
Though he reached out to multiple teams, it was clear to Fair that he wanted to get another shot in Hyannis: “I was hoping that I would [get called back] . . . I didn’t really want to go to a new team because I had already started to make friends, and it’s always tough going to a new team for the summer.”
Hope became reality two and a half weeks later, when the Harbor Hawks signed Fair to a contract for the rest of the summer. He was activated on June 4, and a day later he was back in the lineup.
The Cape League can be daunting for some players due to the amount of talent around them, but Fair was unfazed. While at Northeastern, Fair and the Huskies compete in the Colonial Athletic Association, a mid-major conference consisting of east coast schools such as Elon, Charleston, and UNC Wilmington. The CAA boasted a collection of elite pitchers in 2019, including 15 that were selected in the 2019 MLB draft. Despite this, Fair ended the season with a .357 batting average in 49 games, taking home the batting title with the conference’s highest average. Against the five CAA pitchers selected in the first eight rounds of the draft – including 20th overall pick and CAA Pitcher of the Year George Kirby (Elon) – Fair compiled an impressive .333 average (4-for-12) with one walk.
“Especially this year, we had some really good arms in the CAA, so I got to hit off a lot of good guys. That’s definitely served me well coming in [to the Cape League], because in this league you’re facing everybody’s best guys,” Fair said.
Did that change Fair’s mentality coming from the CAA to the Cape League? “No, not at all. Same exact thing. Just go out and do what you know how to do.”
Fair certainly knows how to hit the ball, and he did just that on the Cape, carrying on his strong hitting from the college season. Including the two games in his initial stint, Fair ripped off a 14-game on base streak to begin the season. He recorded at least one hit in 13 of those games and ended the run with a nine-game hitting streak.
Though the streak came to an end eventually, Fair continued his impressive showing throughout the rest of the summer. He finished with a .348 average – the best mark on the Harbor Hawks – to go along with four walks while notching 11 runs and nine RBIs in 25 games with a plate appearance. Of those 25 games, Fair reached base in 23 of them and recorded a hit in 22. Fair also mashed a lone home run on July 29, the third home run of a wild fifth inning for Hyannis in a game against Falmouth.
It wasn’t just his skill at the plate that drew eyes, either; Fair shone in the field as the Harbor Hawks’ starting first baseman. He made numerous impressive stops on ground balls, as well as some spectacular leaping catches to snag line drives. At 6' 3" tall, his long frame allowed him to stretch far from the bag when handling throws from his infield counterparts.
Fair’s fielding prowess was made all the more remarkable by the fact that first base isn’t his normal position. A shortstop in high school, he slotted into second base during his freshman season at Northeastern. Year two saw him take on the designated hitter role for the Huskies, and now he can check first base off the list as well.
Fair relishes that versatility, saying, “[I’m] flexible . . . Wherever the team needs me, wherever I can get in the lineup, I’ll play.”
Though shortstop used to be his go-to position, Fair’s time in the Cape League has brought him around to the idea of playing first more regularly. With New York Yankees draftee Jake Farrell leaving a vacant spot at first base at Northeastern, Fair says “you could definitely see” him at first base next season for the Huskies. He also mentioned the possibility of helping out a third base – fitting, really, considering the positional carousel he’s been on the last few years.
Despite the success, Fair has kept himself grounded. When asked if he expected to do as well as he has, he downplayed the idea: “I didn’t really expect anything. I just went out and played the same game I’ve been playing my whole life. I went out and did my thing, and I’ve been playing pretty well.”
The Cape League experience has been a unique one for Fair. In a league full of MLB talent and power conference players, he didn’t come in as a highly-touted prospect. It began with just a one-week temporary deal, and Fair had no idea what the future held beyond that. Fast forward two months, and he’s consistently proven his mettle against some of the best players in college baseball. He led his team in average, and he took a new position in stride and excelled at it. That’s the Cape League at its finest – giving players the opportunity to shine in front fans and scouts alike and make a name for themselves at the highest level. Fair took full advantage of that opportunity, and it should pay dividends for him as his career progresses.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster, just knowing that you can play with the best of them. I’m just gonna go out and keep doing the same thing that I’ve always done since I’ve been young, and hopefully I’ll continue to have success.”