TAKE TWO… AND HIT TO RIGHT
By John Garner, Jr.
| When curve-balling USN Ensign Brian Higgins of Centerville faced Billy Perry of East Falmouth in last Saturday’s CCBL vs. Military Game at Chatham, one could almost hear the words of the late irrepressible editor/publisher Frank Finn, “I TOLD you the local kids could play at this level.”
It seemed fitting that Perry, the lone Cape League repeat hitter (2-for-5 with 2 runs scored) in the game, was selected by the Bourne Braves as a temp player out of the aptly-named Frank Finn Cape Cod Baseball League Tryout in Wareham two weeks ago. Higgins (son of long-time CCBL senior VP Jim Higgins), while not exactly the second coming of the Ryan Express with his fast-ball, kept CCBL hitters off-balance with his off-speed stuff and was probably the most effective Military reliever with a perfect ninth inning, inducing one strikeout and two ground ball outs. It was an eventful and emotional week for the Higgins family, as Brian’s uncle, Cape Cod Times sports editor Bill Higgins, was inducted into the Harwich High School Hall of Fame the same evening and earlier in the week, Brian’s grandmother passed away.
Another local player who fared well was former Mashpee standout Tyler Stohr Northern Florida), who is expected to be a top reliever for the Hyannis Mets, the team his father Keith Stohr (now a MLB scout) used to manage a few years back. The younger Stohr pitched a perfect seventh inning with two K’s to earn the mound victory for the CCBL squad. Jake Yagjian (Wheaton) of Brewster played for the Cape League in its 8-1 victory in Orleans the next evening and scored a run in his lone at-bat.
The Military All-Stars will visit 23 states during their “18th Red, White and Blue Tour of America” this summer and without question one of their favorite places to visit was good old Cape Cod. Incredibly, the Military All-Stars participate while on leave and cover their own expenses. At last count, 14 players from the original roster have been deployed in Harm’s Way in the Middle East.
The games and the sacrifices of these young baseball players bring back distant memories of Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson, who inhaled mustard gas at the end of World War I in France that led to his early demise from tuberculosis. Or Bullet Bob Feller, who missed four prime years of his career after becoming the first major leaguer to enlist in the U.S. Navy the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. And finally there was our own Ted Williams, a decorated Marine pilot in BOTH World War II and Korea, who was a wing man for future astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, the first man to orbit the earth.It was the third straight year that Cape Cod hosted the U.S. Military All-Stars, with the CCBL capturing the inaugural game in 2005 in Hyannis and the Military coming back last summer in Cotuit.
Once again, both games last weekend were a grand slam for all concerned – CCBL players, fans, coaches and administrators, along with the U.S. Military All-Stars, who saw their tour record drop to 6-3 with their double-dip on the Lower Cape. Host directors Diane Troy of Chatham and Sue Horton of Orleans, along with the CCBL staff led by Judy Scarafile, Paul Galop, Jim Higgins and Sol Yas, did a magnificent job putting the pieces together for two pre-game ceremonies full of pomp and circumstance, not to mention downright Patriotism. The Cardinals went the extra yard by flying American Flags all around the vast expanse of Eldredge Park and displaying official flags of all five military services.
Watching uniformed World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans and the widowed mother of an Iraq War casualty march onto the field left you with goose-bumps and fond memories that will probably never be forgotten.
CCBL NOTES: The 123rd season of the Cape League began June 15 with defending champion Yarmouth-Dennis at Hyannis and Bourne at Cotuit at 5 p.m. and Wareham at Falmouth, Chatham at Harwich and Brewster at Orleans at 7. Each of the home teams boasted their own special pre-game ceremonies…
One of the best stories of the 2007 CCBL season is that 88-year-old Boston Bruins broadcast legend Fred Cusick will be the play-by-play voice of the new CCBL Game of the Week web-casts on WBZ1030.com. The package, produced by local entrepreneur Steve Lipman, includes seven Monday night games, starting with the Cotuit at Y-D next Monday at 5 p.m., and can be heard and viewed by going to www.wbz1030.com, www.capecodbaseball.org or the home team’s web-site…
More than 100 people attended last Sunday’s CCBL first Pitch Brunch, hosted by the 99 Restaurant in West Yarmouth. Pete (Big Sexy) Sheppard of WEEI Radio in Boston served as MC and brought the house down when he ended Wareham coach Cooper Farris’s long list of honors by uttering “and a partridge and a pear tree.”
Sheppard also gave a moving testimonial to Cusick as his own personal broadcasting hero as a boy growing up, listening to his favorite team, the Big Bad Bruins…
An impressive total of 154 Cape League alumni were drafted through the first 22 rounds of last week’s Major league Baseball Draft, televised live for the first time before a national television audience on ESPN.
Included were seven first-round selections, including former Cotuit southpaw Daniel Moskos Clemson) by the Pittsburg Pirates with the fourth pick, Orleans catcher Matt Wieters (Georgia Tech) by the Baltimore Orioles at No. 5, Falmouth left-hander Ross Detwiler (Missouri State) by Washington at No. 6, Y-D and Brewster slugging first baseman Matt LaPorta (Florida) at No. 7 by Milwaukee, Bourne slugger Beau Mills ((Lewis & Clark) at No. 13 by the Cleveland Indians, Kettleers’ right-hander James Simmons (Cal-Riverside) at #26 by Oakland and Orleans Cardinals 6-10 righty hurler Andrew Brackman (North Carolina St.) by the Yankees with the 30th and final selection of the first round.
Local southpaw hurler Cody Crowell (Vanderbilt), who hurled for Harwich and Brewster the past two summers, was selected in the 14th round (No. 445 overall) by Toronto and will report to the Blue Jays’ Class A affiliate, the Auburn Doubledays, named after Civil War general and fictional baseball founder Abner Doubleday.