HARWICH, Mass. – East Division leader and defending Cape Cod Baseball League champion Harwich is completing preparations for the 2012 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game, scheduled for Saturday, July 28, at Whitehouse Field.
It will be the first All-Star Game on Cape soil since 2008 when more than 8,000 spectators watched the East extend its winning streak to six games by beating the West, 8-6, at Veterans Field in Chatham. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have hosted the game at Fenway Park, where the West Division scored shutout victories in 2009 and 2010 and the East dominated last summer’s game, 4-1.
“I’m very pleased that the game is returning to the Cape,” said Bill Bussiere, chairman of the league’s All-Star Game Committee. “And playing it in the home park of our defending champions, the Harwich Mariners, is especially appropriate. I expect a great game.”
The game will be nationally televised by Fox College Sports with Eric Frede and Lou Merloni handling the play-by-play and analyst duties, respectively. It will be the fifth consecutive year that Frede has been behind the microphone for the Cape League classic. Merloni, a 2010 Cape League Hall of Fame inductee, will be working his third straight CCBL all-star telecast.
Whitehouse Field’s first CCBL All-Star Game came in 1969, the final year of the Upper Cape-Lower Cape divisional series. The host Lower Cape shut out the Upper Cape visitors, 4-0. It was 23 years before the game returned to Harwich and this time the visiting West Division squad scored a 3-1 win. In 2002, the West triumphed, 4-1.
In the decade since that game, the field has undergone a number of major improvements and has been home to Mariner championships in 2008 and 2011. There are new dugouts, new field lights, revamped bleacher seating and a new inning-by-inning scoreboard. Additional temporary seating will be installed to accommodate the large crowd expected for the All-Star Game, team officials said.
This will be the 25th Cape League All-Star Game since the expansion year of 1988, when the East-West format was adopted. The East leads the series, 12 wins to 11, with one tie, a darkness-halted 6-6 game at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth in 1996.
Between 1970 and 1987, the All-Star Game matched a composite squad from the league’s eight franchises against a team from the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Most of those games were played in major league stadiums, including Boston’s Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium in New York and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. Falmouth and Chatham also hosted CCBL-ACBL games during that 18-year stretch in which the Cape League teams won 13 times and lost just twice.
The 1981 game, in Boston, resulted in a 4-4 tie and in 1978 the game was canceled due to inclement weather. In 1972, scheduling problems prevented the ACBL from participating, so defending league champion Falmouth hosted a hastily assembled league all-star squad at Guv Fuller Field and won the game, 8-1, with future Baltimore Orioles pitcher and CCBL Hall of Famer Mike Flanagan getting the victory.
Another Falmouth ace, 2002 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Mitchell, wrote his name in the record books in 1971 by beating the ACBL, 8-1, at Chatham, a year after he had earned a 6-3 win at Yankee Stadium, thus becoming the only pitcher in Cape League All-Star Game history to record two victories. Like Flanagan, Mitchell went on to pitch for the Orioles.
Although this summer’s CCBL All-Star Game will not be held at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have designated Sunday, July 22, as Cape Cod Day and the Cape League will participate by staging the qualifying round of its annual Home Run Contest in the shadow of the famed Green Monster. That competition will start at approximately noon, preceding a Blue Jays-Red Sox game. The final round will take place prior to the All-Star Game six days later.
Mariners General Manager Ben Layton served on the All-Star Game Committee during the three years the game was played in Boston and was instrumental in the planning and operational logistics of the on-field and pre-game activities, the player autograph sessions and media and television arrangements.
Layton pointed out that Whitehouse Field is conveniently located off Route 6 at Exit 10 and is easily accessible for spectators. He said parking will be available in Harwich High School’s front, side and rear lots, at the Community Center lots and at the parking lots at nearby Cranberry Valley Public Golf Course and those at Brooks Park and Town Hall, all within walking distance of the field.
“We are honored to be selected by the league to host this game,” Layton said. “We have the enthusiastic support of our local fire, police and EMT departments along with the Harwich Chamber of Commerce. Everyone is committed to working very hard to make this a great event for our team, the town and the league.”