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Cape League Spotlight 1930-39

07/08/2020 5:02 AM

Article By: Mike Richard

The 1930 season was the last one where Osterville and Hyannis had their own separate teams, merging the following year under the banner of Barnstable for the rest of the decade.
Hyannis frequently had a difficult time supporting the team, as noted in the Sept. 6, 1928 issue in the Hyannis Patriot at season’s end.


“Officials of the Hyannis team have said that due to the lack of support by local people the season was anything but a financial success for that team. Public spirited citizens who gave the other teams in the league the proper backing failed to come forward or did not make good their promises of support for the Hyannis team. Although the gate receipts were up to the usual average, the heavy expense of operating a team in the league makes financial support from other sources, a necessity.”


As we spend a summer without Cape Cod League baseball, we will continue take a look back at the teams from the Barnstable area that played in the league over the years.


    From 1930-32, the league would continue the practice of awarding the Cape Cod Baseball League championship to the team which finished first throughout the regular season.


    Wareham captured the 1930 title with a 29-15 record (locally, Hyannis 18-26 and Osterville 12-32, finished fifth and seventh, respectively in a seven-team league).


    Then in 1931 and 32, Falmouth captured two straight titles with the merged Barnstable team finishing fifth out of six teams in 1931, and then in the cellar with a paltry 8-26 record out of five teams in the 1932 season.


Between 1933-39, the baseball season was divided into halves. If the same team won both halves, they would be declared overall champion without a playoff. However, on the occasion where a different team won the half, a playoff would be held between the two winners.


In 1933, second half winner Harwich swept Falmouth in three straight playoff games, while Barnstable – despite a second-place finish in the first half with a 12-9 record – faded in the second half to finish in fourth place with a 12-13 mark.


Barnstable 1934 Champs


Barnstable would capture its first-ever title in 1934 with a 30-18 overall record, easily outdistancing second-place Falmouth which finished 25-23. Led by player-manager Edward “Pete” Herman, the team’s top pitchers were Bob Duffy and John “Muggsy” Kelley, while catcher George Colbert and top hitters Buster Snow and Jake Edwards paced the team.


    Although the Barnstable Patriot rarely referred to players by first name in game write-ups of that era, the box score revealed the rest of the Barnstable lineup was comprised of players named Gore, Brachen, Powell, Cash and Ryan.


Townies drop Five-Game Series to Falmouth


Barnstable had its sights on a second straight title, but this time neighboring Falmouth won a well-contested five-game series.


In the opener for Falmouth future Red Sox hurler Wilfred “Lefty” Lefebvre’s pitches “were giving the batters a lot of trouble” as he outdueled Barnstable’s Ted Olsen. 8-3. Then in game two, with Barnstable leading 2-0 in the seventh inning, Falmouth scored a run in the seventh and two in the ninth for a 3-2 win.

 
Down two games to none, Barnstable went on to sweep a Labor Day doubleheader, 9-1 and 11-5.
In the first game, Bob Cash held Falmouth to six hits and a lone first inning run and added three hits for the winners. Jake Edwards hit one of the longest home runs at the Falmouth Heights park, the ball landing in the attic of a house in right field.


The second game was a Barnstable rout as they belted out 16 hits before the largest crowd in recent years at Hallett Field.


    In the clinching game, Falmouth plated a run in the last of the ninth to win the series 3-2 as Lefebvre outdueled Olsen for the championship.


    Future Chicago Cubs shortstop Lennie Merullo made several stellar plays for the Barnstable team in the series.


Barnstable champs in 1937


It was said to be the most exciting pennant race in Cape League history to this point, with Barnstable, Bourne and Harwich each battling it out with a chance at the flag going into the final weekend.


However, it took a spectacular pitching performance by Barnstable ace Norman Merrill, pitching what was believed to be the first no-hitter in Cape League history, to blank Bourne 5-0 and capture the championship. Merrill did not walk a batter and was prevented from a perfect game by a couple of Barnstable errors.


The Townies that year were coached by Pete Herman, who was also the coach of Kents Hill Prep School in Maine. Merrill, of John Carroll University was the ace of the staff and the squad also featured Boston College catcher George Colbert, Colgate outfielder Guy Vitale and several other players only known simply as Pilote, Giovannengeli, Tominey and O’Flaherty.


Falmouth, which had finished a distant fourth in 1937, rebuilt and rebounded to capture the championships the next two years. In 1938, they snuck past Harwich on the final day with a 32-22 record, beating the second-place team by one scant game.


Then in 1939, Falmouth won both the first and second halves of the season to emerge as repeating champion. That same season, Falmouth hosted the first-ever night game at its Central Park field in Falmouth Heights field on July 19.


With the advent of World War 2 and many young men headed overseas to fight in the war, the Cape League shutdown for the next six years. There was still baseball on the Cape with the recreational Twilight League made up of high school aged players 18 and under, but the organized Cape League would be suspended until the summer of 1946.


Here is a look at all Cape Cod Baseball League champions from 1930-39:


1930    Wareham
1931    Falmouth
1932    Falmouth
1933    Harwich
1934    Barnstable
1935    Falmouth
1936    Bourne
1937    Barnstable
1938    Falmouth
1939     Falmouth
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Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at mikerichard0725@gmail.com.