Baseball and All-Star games have been a great combination since 1933 when Major League Baseball played its first mid-summer classic at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
The Cape League started it’s version of mid-summer fun in 1963, the first year of the modern era. It will continue this year as the mid-season classic, an event that has become a major part of the season for both the players and the fans, returns to Hyannis for the first time since 1997.
The 2004 game in Orleans saw the East knock out four home runs in the first two innings on the way to a record 13-0 blanking of the West. Y-D’s Frank Curreri hit a two-run home run in the first and Jordan Brown of the host Cardinals added a solo shot to close out a four-run first.
Brewster’s Ryan Patterson ledoff the second with a home run and Jon Aughey of Harwich added a two-run shot to give the East a 7-0 lead after two innings. While the East offense was exploding the pitchers were holding the West hitless for 5 and 2/3 innings, the longest stretch in an All-Star game.
Wareham’s Warner Jones singled with two outs in the sixth for the West’s first hit. In the seventh Bryan Harris of Cotuit doubled for West’s second and final hit. The two hits tied the record for the fewest hits in an All-Star game.
In the game’s first Hyannis appearance in 1997 Falmouth’s Jason Edgar was West MVP with two hits, two runs and an RBI on a solo home run as the West won 5-4. The West starting pitcher was current Oakland A’s All-Star Mark Mulder (Bourne).
With his start for the American League in the 2004 Major League All-Star game, Mulder became the second pitcher start a Cape League All-Star game and a Major League All-Star game. A pair of Hyannis Mets, Eric Hinske (2002 AL Rookie of the Year for Toronto) and Eric Byrnes (Oakland) competed in the Home Run hitting contest.
In the 2003 contest the East rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth for a 3-1 win. Sean Gamble (Y-D) drove in the winning runs with a 2-run single. The home team West had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Sam Fuld (Hyannis) scored on Joey Metropoulos’ (Falmouth) double. Orleans’ Cesar Nicholas won the Home Run Hitting contest with 13 in the final round.
The first game in 1963 was an inter-league contest between the best of the Cape League and the best from the Cranberry League. This was the first time a Cape League All-Star team had played another league in an all-star game.
The game was played on 6 August at Sagamore’s Keith Field under the lights.Cotuit’s Cotton Nash, a basketball All-American at Kentucky, provided the heroics for the Cape stars as he hit the first home run – a three run blast to center- to climax a six-run second inning as the Cape League powered its way to a 15-2 win.
Orleans’ Tom Yankus also homered for the Cape and pitched two innings, striking out one. Cotuit’s Bernie Kilroy started and was the winner as he struck out four in two innings.
The competition between leagues lasted only one year and from 1964-69 the league played an Upper Cape Division (west) – Lower Cape Division (east) contest.
The 1965 game featured a match-up of new Cape League Hall of Fame inductees Joe Jabar and Noel Kinski. Though neither starter was involved in the decision Kinski fared better for his Upper Cape team as he pitched three innings, allowed no hits, walked one and struck out four. The Upper Cape won 10-9 with three runs in the eighth inning.
The game made its first Falmouth appearance in 1966, playing under the new lights. Joe Jabar fared better getting the win for the Lower Cape in the 5-1 victory. Future major-league Tom Grieve (Chatham) scored twice and set an all-star game record with four walks.
The 1967 game was played at the new Eldredge Park in Orleans and saw the Lower Cape win 9- behind Glenn Adams’ (Harwich) three-run homer. Massachusetts governor John A. Volpe was on hand called the park the finest community field in New England.
Change came about in 1970 as the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League invited the Cape League to play an All-Star game. The first one was played at Yankee Stadium and the Cape League won 6-3. Future major-leaguer Paul Mitchell (Falmouth) was the winner, the first of his two all-star victories.
The classic returned to Falmouth in 1972 as the ACBL and CCBL took a year off. A group of Cape League all-stars played the defending champion Commodores and lost 8-1 as Jim Riggleman hit two home runs. Riggleman was the hero in 1973 as he hit the first all-star game grand slam in a 13-7 win over the ACBL at Yankee Stadium.
Falmouth hosted again in 1974 as the ACBL got the first of its two victories, 4-2. Future major leaguer Rich Gale (Falmouth) struck out the side in his one inning of work.
The game made its second appearance at Fenway Park in 1977 and Steve Balboni (Yarmouth and Falmouth) hit two three-run blasts over the Green Monster to power the Cape to a 8-3 win.
In the last inter-league contest at Yankee Stadium, Ron Darling (Cotuit) showed why he was called “All-World” by his teammates. Darling started in right, and singled, doubled , homered and drove in two runs as the Cape came back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 10-9 lead. With runners on first and second and one out, Darling came in from left and struck out the first batter he faced and retired the final batter on a popup to first to save the win.
In 1984 a trio of Harwich Mariners directed the CCBL to a 7-3 win over the ACBL in Philadelphia. Mike Loggins and Casey Close combined to drive in seven runs. Loggins was named MVP as he tripled, scored three runs and drove in four.
Future major-leaguer Joe Magrane earned the win with two shutout innings. John Ramos (Cotuit), Jim DePalo (Chatham) and Billy Masse (Cotuit) each drove in three runs to lead the Cape to a 12-9 win over the Atlantic League in 1985.
In 1988 the league returned to an intra league game which featured the best of the West against the best of the East. Orleans hosted the game and the West won 4-3. Future major league stars Jeff Bagwell (Chatham) and Mo Vaughn (Wareham) each hit a home run. The home run hitting contest was won by Orleans’ Frank Thomas (twice AL MVP) who used a bat given him by his Auburn teammate Bo Jackson.
Falmouth was again the host in 1991 with the East winning 7-4 behind MVP Bill Scalzitti (Brewster) who homered. Current Philadelphia closer Billy Wagner (Brewster) was East MVP in the 1992 game won by the West 3-1.
Wagner, a hard-throwing lefty, struck out the side in his only inning of work. Rick Ellstrom (Cotuit) was named West MVP for his two-run home run. The West won for the third straight year in 1994 6-1. Current Colorado Rockie Todd Helton (Orleans) won the home run hitting contest.
Helton hit a two-run home run in this years Major League All-Star game. The West won again in 1999 6-4, despite a home run and two RBI from East MVP Mark Teixeira (Orleans and now with Texas).
In 2001 the All-Star game returned to Falmouth and saw the East pound out 16 hits and a 10-1 win. Russ Adams (Orleans) was East MVP with two hits, including a three-run home run. Wareham’s Matt Murton, the second pick of Boston in 2004 draft, homered for the West’s lone run. In 2002 the West won 4-1 behind MVP Brian Snyder (Cotuit), a 2004 first round pick of Oakland. Snyder had three hits and drove in three runs.