Cape Cod and Baseball

By: Al Hudson-July 25, 2008

The Cape Cod Baseball League is an amateur baseball league located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, in which many college baseball stars play during the summer. Many future Major League Baseball players have started there during their college years; MLB has provided financial support to the Cape League for over 40 years.

During the 2007 MLB season, 200 CCBL alumni played in the majors or were on injured reserve; additionally over 1000 CCBL alumni were playing in professional baseball. The league is also notable for its continuing use of wooden bats. Because it draws top-tier college players, the level of play is often considered the equivalent of high-A Minor League Baseball.

But it is more than that.

The setting reminds one of the purest expression of the sport. As a young man, I can remember my Dad and I attending a Cape League game. I couldn’t tell you which teams we saw, but I remember the feeling that we had stepped back in time. On my most recent trip to the Cape, that feeling sent chills up my spine as I could feel the presence of my father standing next to me down the third base line quietly taking in the game.

Cape baseball is reminiscent of the "fifties" because the ambiance is unchanged. There are no tickets to be bought. At most games, they pass the hat. In this age of commercialism, when was the last time you attended a game where they passed the hat for admission.

The baseball is very competitive, and why not. These are the cream of the crop, and they know what is at stake. Professional scouts are everywhere, taking in the action, while getting to know the players in an almost professional setting. To quote a player, "This is absolutely the place to play. If you ask anyone one place they want to play in the summer, it’s the Cape. This is the place you dream about playing."

If you go, the following list of teams makes up the league. The Bourne Braves, Brewster Whitecaps, Chatham Athletics, Cotuit Kettleers, Falmouth Commodores, Harwich Mariners, Hyannis Mets, Orleans Cardinals, Wareham Gatemen, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox provide an opportunity to view the stars of tomorrow in a setting from the past.

If you have never been to Cape Cod, for a Southerner, it is a different world. History buffs will revel in the artifacts native to the area. The Kennedy clan alone, from Hyannis, will provide enough material of interest for even the casual vacationer.

Provincetown is an excursion for the open-minded. Non-traditional values may be disconcerting to Southern conservatives, but remember we have our own skeletons.

Several day trips are available for vacationers such as Plymouth Rock, less than an hour away, and Fenway Park in Boston is about an hour and a half. Order tickets early, as most games are sold out well in advance. Tickets are available through ticket outlets such as Stub Hub, but expect to pay top dollar. However, if you have never been to the "Cathedral of Baseball", it will be a memory that you will relive for many years.

Ferry rides are available to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The serenity and charm of these islands will be relaxing and memorable, especially if you have a penchant for antiques.

The beaches are among the best in the world, however, most can be very crowded. Let me suggest the Coast Guard Beach on the National Seashore in Eastham. It is the top of the line, but may not be as convenient as some others.

One of my favorite pastimes on the Cape is mealtime. You have never had fried clams until you go to the Cape. Make sure you ask for clams with the bellies intact. Don’t ask what the bellies contain, just enjoy. They will go down better. In addition to clams, lobster is plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Try a lobster roll, it will make you want to return every year just for the delicacy.

Housing is expensive and primitive. Most cottages are within walking distance of the ocean. Don’t expect the normal amenities of a vacation cottage. Most do not have air conditioning, and are equipped with outdoor shower facilities.

The atmosphere is eerily similar to what I can only imagine the 30’s and 40’s were like for my parents as they vacationed on the Cape. My sister and I would spend a month at the Cape every summer with my Mom. Dad would come down on weekends, and usually take a week’s vacation during that time.

Amazingly, I can remember intimate details of our trips. The cottages are basically the same today with a little new paint and very little polish, but in my mind, all the people that I knew return to the Cape every year for vacation.

I know, most are gone, replaced by new families and maybe more than a few descendents. The "Chowder Bowl" is gone, replaced by a new cottage, but I would still walk to that store looking for a newspaper for my Dad, and a "Devil Dog" for myself.

If it wasn’t for friends, family and memories what an uneventful life we would lead.

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