20 January 2001
CHATHAM --- For the better part of his young life, Ed Lyons toured North America as a minor league pitcher, his wife and children in tow wherever his mound skills were needed. In the twilight of his life, he spent his best years in the game managing the Wareham Gatemen, Hyannis Mets, Falmouth Commodores and the Chatham A’s, leading him to become the winningest skipper in Cape League history until Wareham’s Don Reed broke the record in 1999.
Joining the erstwhile Cape skipper was Boston Red Sox Vice President of Public Affairs Dick Bresciani, longtime Major League Baseball scout Bill Enos, former Baltimore Oriole southpaw Mike Flanagan, former Chicago Cubs shortstop (1941-1947) Lennie Merullo, the late New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, Cotuit Kettleers longtime GM Arnold Mycock, former Major League relief ace Jeff Reardon, former Cape League umpire and commissioner Danny Silva, Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas, Anaheim Angels’ slugger Mo Vaughn and longtime Cape League player and manager Red Wilson.
On hand to accept their inductee plaques were Bresciani, Enos, Flanagan, Merullo, Mycock, Reardon and Wilson. Thomas and Vaughn could not attend in person. Major League Baseball liaison Jeff Pfeiffer accepted Munson’s plaque on behalf of the Munson family and the New York Yankees.
Former Cape League player and Mass. Maritime Academy Athletic Director Bob Corradi accepted Silva’s plaque, while Wareham Gatemen President and General Manager John Wylde accepted on behalf of Vaughn. In a pre-recorded, videotaped acceptance speech, Vaughn credited Wylde and the late John Claffey with giving him the opportunity to mov forward to a brilliant Major League career. Longtime Cape League player and manager Tom Yankus and Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia accepted Thomas’ plaque.
But few who spoke during the induction ceremony better summarized the day’s events than Cape League Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Paul Galop. “This is an historic day for the Cape Cod Baseball League,” Galop said, but was quick to credit Cape League Commissioner Bob Stead as “the one driving force” behind the hall of fame’s establishment over the past two years.
His voice breaking with emotion, Stead dubbed the day “a dream come true,” before giving way to master of ceremonies and New England TV personality Scott Wahle. From there, Wahle introduced the inductee presenters, successfully interspersing his commentary with baseball anecdotes.
Longtime Umass-Amherst head baseball coach Dick Berquist introduced the first inductee, Dick Bresciani, a Hopedale native who got his first taste of public relations as an intern with the sports information department at Umass. Spending his summers as a Cape League official scorekeeper, statistician and CCBL’s first Public Relations Director, Bresciani quickly rose to become the youngest assistant sports information director ever at Umass and in 1972 was hired by the Boston Red Sox, eventually becoming the team’s Vice President of Public Affairs.
Cape League Vice President Jim Higgins introduced the next inductee, former Cape League player and longtime Major League Baseball scout Bill Enos. Enos first played for the Orleans club in 1936 before serving with the U.S. Navy in World War II. In 1949 he was hired by Branch Rickey as a scout for the St. Louis Browns, thus embarking on a baseball career that spanned more than six decades, concluding as a scout for the Boston Red Sox. Enos srved as the first-ever scouting liaison for the Cape League to Major League Baseball.
Falmouth Commodore General Manager Chuck Sturtevant introduced the next inductee, 18-year Baltimore Oriole hurler and 1979 Cy Young Award winner Mike Flanagan. Flanagan, who pitched and played outfield for Bill Livesey’s first place Commodores, remembered his Cape League days with fondness and said while driving over the Bourne Bridge the memories of his summer on the Cape came flooding back to him. “He (Livesy) prepared me for anything Earl Weaver could hand out,” Flanagan said. “I’ll never forget my summer in the Cape Cod League.” Flanagan went 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA for the 1972 Commodores and played outfield in 28 games, batting .286 with seven home runs.
Appropriately, longtime Chatham A’s manager John Schiffner introduced the next inductee, Ed Lyons, as Lyons spent his last summer on the Cape managing the A’s to the 1982 CCBL Championship. Schiffner also took the opportunity to announce that the A’s planned to retire Lyon’s old uniform number – 29 – during an alumni weekend in Chatham in July. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Lyons signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 1947, toiling for 18
Former Cape League player Lennie Merullo Jr. and his son, former Chicago White Sox back-up catcher Matt Merullo, jointly introduced inductee Lennie Merullo, who first played for the Barnstable Townies in the old Cape League in 1935 before embarking on a Major League career with the Chicago Cubs. From 1941 through 1947, Merullo played shortstop for the Cubs, amassing a lifetime batting average of .240 in a career that culminated in his club’s 1945 World Series appearance against Detroit.
Following his Major League playing days, the Reading native embarked on a 50-year career as a Major League scout. “This might be inauguration day,” the elder Merullo said upon acceptance of his induction plaque, hinting at the inauguration of President George W. Bush. “But it isn’t any more important to President Bush than it is to Lennie Merullo.”
Major League Baseball liaison Jeff Pfieffer was called upon to accept the induction plaque and honors for the late Thurman Munson, the 1970 American League Rookie of The Year and first New York Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig. Munson got his start as a backstop for the 1967 Chatham A’s, collecting batting champion honors with a .420 clip. According to Pfeiffer, who read from a prepared statement from Munson’s wife Diane Munson, the Yankee all-time great “always said (his) experience on the Cape helped (him) to achieve (his) success with the New York Yankees.”
Cape League Vice President Dick Sullivan introduced the next inductee as “the singular driving force behind the Cape League’s success.” When Elizabeth Lowell Park was but one-year old in 1950, Arnold Mycock took the reigns as the Cotuit Kettleers General Manager and held that position from 1950 through 1995 when the Kettleers took their record 12th league championship. In that incredible span, Mycock’s clubs fielded no less than 1,000 players, 40 of them Major Leaguers. His clubs built a phenomenal 771-546 win-loss record during that same period and it was Mycock who played an integral role in elevating the Cape League to its present-day, college-player only status.
Mycock also played a key role in the development of CCBL youth baseball clinics, now vastly popular, in 1975. Dubbed general manager emeritus for life by the Cotuit Kettlers franchise following his retirement in 1995, Mycock still serves on the CCBL Board of Executives and has served the league in virtually every role imaginable. To this day, Mycock still arranges the CCBL schedule and proves to be a vital player in how the league operates and continues to improve. “He is the consummate gentleman, self-effacing,” Sullivan said. “The success of the Cape Cod Baseball League rests squarely on the shoulders of Arnold Mycock.” “Little did I dream I would one day be standing here before this crowd,” Mycock said. “I am indeed honored to be in such company.”
With that being said, Mycock then turned to introduce one of his former protégées as the next CCBL Hall of Fame inductee, Sporting News Reliever of the Decade (1980s) and three-year Kettleer ace Jeff Reardon. Reardon’s career as one of Major League Baseball’s top relief pitchers is legendary. In 1985, the Dalton native collected 41 saves for the Montreal Expos, earning him National League Fireman of the Year honors. In 1987, he led the Minnesota Twin to the World Series and was named the American League Co-Fireman of the Year. By carer’s end with the BoSox, Reardon had amassed 367 saves, breaking National Baseball Hall of Famer Rollie Finger’s record. Arnold Mycock is the sole reason why I made the Big Leagues,’’ Reardon said.
Former Cape League player and commissioner Bernie Kilroy then introduced first-ever Cape League commissioner and former umpire Danny Silva as the next CCBL Hall of Fame inductee, followed by a brief speech given by Mass. Maritime Academy athletic director and baseball coach Bob Corradi.
Former Orleans Cardinals coach and Cape League player and manager Tom Yankus introduced Chicago White Sox Slugger Frank Thomas as the next inductee, before giving way to John Tummina, White Sox scout, who accepted Thomas’ plaque in the inductee’s absence. Thomas, long remembered for hitting the longest ball ever out of Eldredge Park, was dubbed and “unbelievable hitter” who nevertheless struggles to acclimate himself to the feel and swing of the CCBL’s wooden bats. By the end of the 1988 season, the CCBL all-star collected six home runs and was well on his way to a brilliant Major League career. Seven times voted an American League all-star first baseman, Thomas has twice been named the American League MVP and holds the White Sox all-time record for home runs (301).
Wareham Gatemen President and General Manager John Wylde accepted Mo Vaughn’s inductee plaque, and detailed how Vaughn was instrumental in Wareham’s championship bid in 1988, collecting four-game winning RBI in four playoff games and teaming up with roommate Chuck Knoblauch in an all-star season. In turn, Vaughn credited (via videotape) Wylde and the late John Claffey with being the two catalysts toward the slugger’s all-star career with the Boston Red Sox and Anaheim Angels. “I wanted to be like those guys,” Vaughn said of his youth spending summers on Cape Cod and watching Cape League games in Falmouth.
Cape League Commissioner and former player and manager Bob Stead introduced the final inductee of the day, as a teacher and coach who “made everyone he coached feel like a champion.” Merrill “Red” Wilson played catcher for the University of Maine and honed his skills in seven all-star season in the Cape League before giving way to a brilliant career coaching and teaching at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School. The one-time CCBL MVP (Lower Cape, 1960), also served as the high school’s athletic director and at one time as its vice principal. The Home of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox is now named in his honor, as Merrill “Red” Wilson Field. “Red Wilson is the personification of what the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame is: class, dignity and excellence.”
The first-ever slate of Hall of Fame inductees awaits their honor.