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Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame 2008 Tickets Still Available

for immediate release: 29 October 2008

Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Tickets Still Available

Ceremony Set for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at Chatham Bars Inn

CHATHAM, Mass. – Committee chair Paul Galop has announced a limited number of tickets are still available for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s ninth annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at the Chatham Bars Inn.

     Tickets are priced at $75 each and can be purchased by mailing a check to: Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Tickets, P.O. Box 266, Harwich Port, MA 02646. 

     Included in the price are a morning brunch and the induction ceremony. There will also be a silent auction of baseball memorabilia, featuring a number of high-end items, including VIP passes at Major League ballparks. 

     The Hall of Fame brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. in the waterfront dining room, with the induction ceremony immediately following in the Monomoy Theater.

     This year’s class includes current Major League players Ben Sheets, a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, and hard-hitting outfielder Matt Murton of the Oakland A’s, along with former Boston Red Sox and Harvard University first baseman Mike Stenhouse.

     Other inductees are Chatham A’s bullpen ace Derrick DePriest, Cotuit All-Star slugger Bob Hansen, versatile and durable Falmouth performer Roche Pires, Cotuit flame-throwing reliever Jeff Innis and former Cape League deputy commissioner and president Robert A. McNeece of Chatham.

     "The Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Committee had worked tirelessly in researching and presenting this prestigious class for induction,” said Galop.

      “These inductees are extremely worthy and have all made their own unique and significant contribution to the CCBL. What an outstanding group."

     In addition to the HOF class, the CCBL Executive of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards will also be presented.

     Also on hand will be legendary broadcaster and sports writer Peter Gammons of ESPN and former Boston Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni, now with NESN and WEEI Radio in Boston. Longtime Boston television personality Scott Wahle will return as master of ceremonies for the event, which will be carried live on the Internet by WBZ103.com and shown locally on tape delay on Comcast’s community access cable outlet, Channel 17.

     The Cape League Hall of Fame & Museum now occupies a sparkling new home in “The Dugout,” the lower level of the John F. Kennedy Museum on Main Street in Hyannis. The Hall of Fame exhibit was first created in 2003 at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich and moved to its more expansive Hyannis location late last summer.

     This year’s Hall of Fame class: 

Matt Murton, Wareham outfielder
     Matt Murton, Wareham outfielder
The Georgia Tech slugger led the Wareham Gatemen to CCBL championships in 2001 and ’02. In ’01, Murton was named league MVP by leading the league in RBI (28), ranking second in batting average (.324) and compiling a perfect 19-for-19 stolen base record. He was rated as CCBL No. 3 Pro Prospect by Baseball America. In 2002, he hit .400 (22-55) with eight RBI and a .545 slugging percentage in 16 games for the Gatemen after breaking his hand at Team USA tryouts. Later that summer, he won the CCBL All-Star Game home-run hitting contest and was again ranked No. 33 among CCBL pro prospects by Baseball America. In the 2003 first-year player draft, he was selected in the first round (32nd overall) by the Boston Red Sox. He was part of the July 31, 2004, trade that also sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz and spent three-plus seasons with the Cubs before being traded to the Oakland A’s on July 8, 2008. In parts of four big league seasons, he has compiled a .288 career batting average with 28 home runs and 106 RBI. 

Ben Sheets, Wareham/Orleans pitcher 
     In his first season in 1998, the Northeast Louisiana right-hander posted a 4-1 record with the Wareham Gatemen. In 68 innings pitched, he struck out 66 batters with a 2.51 ERA. Sheets was named a CCBL mid-season West Division All-Star and to the All-League team in 1998 and was named a Baseball America Summer League All-Star. He returned in 1999 with the Orleans Cardinals and posted a 1-0 record with a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings with 17 strikeouts. Ben was the Milwaukee Brewers’ first-round draft pick in 1999 and just completed his eighth season pitching for Milwaukee, where he was 13-9 with a 3.09, five complete games and 158 strikeouts as Milwaukee earned the wild card berth in the National League playoffs. His career record with the Brew Crew is 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA and 1,206 strikeouts. With a fast ball clocked at 96-98 MPH, Sheets struck out 18 batters in a 2004 game against the Atlanta Braves. Ben won the gold medal game in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a complete game, three-hit, 4-0 shutout victory over Cuba. It is the only gold medal the USA has won in Olympic baseball..

Mike Stenhouse, Chatham first baseman/outfielder/DH
     The Harvard southpaw slugger led Chatham to the CCBL playoffs in each of the three years (1977-1979) he played for the A’s. He hit six home runs and batted .426 in 13 games in 1978, but his season was cut short due to an injury. In 1979, Mike hit .329 with seven home runs and 34 RBI and was named to the East Division All-Star Team and selected as first baseman on the All-League Team. He was a two-time All-Ivy Leaguer at Harvard and hit .475 as a freshman in 1977, second-best in the NCAA. Mike was drafted in the first round in 1979 with the 26th pick by the Oakland A’s. In 1980 he was taken by the Montreal Expos in the first round of the January secondary phase. Stenhouse played for the Expos, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. With the Twins in 1985, he had career highs in games played (81), at-bats (179), runs (23), hits (40), home runs (5), RBI (21), stolen bases (1), walks (29) and batting average (.223). He is the son of former MLB pitcher Dave Stenhouse.

Bob Hansen, Cotuit/Orleans first baseman/outfielder
     The University of Massachusetts first baseman/outfielder played four seasons (Cotuit 1966-1968 and Orleans 1969) in the Cape League and was an All-Star the final three years, starting each game. In 1969, he finished third in batting at .385 and led the league with 38 RBI and a .680 slugging percentage. He also placed second in home runs (7) and doubles (9). He was voted to the 1969 All-League Team at first base. Hansen led the league with six triples in 1967 and was second in runs (28) and hits (41), and tied for fourth in RBI (23). For his career, he is in the top five in triples (11, 2nd), total bases (225, 3rd), RBI (92, 3rd) and hits (134, 5th). His 16 home runs and 21 doubles place him in the top 20 all-time. He was voted to the 1960’s All-Decade team. The 21st draft pick of the expansion Seattle Pilots (AL) in 1969, he hit .242 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 82 games in played parts of two MLB seasons (1974 and 1976) after the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers.

Jeff Innis, Cotuit relief pitcher
    The Illinois right-hander was one of the first true closers in the Cape League. He led the league in saves and games in 1981 and 1982 and is the only pitcher to accomplish that feat. Innis placed first in ERA in 1981(2.34) and was second in 1982 (1.96), finishing with a career ERA of 2.15 during the aluminum bat era. He established league records for games (30 in 1982), saves (8 in 1981), innings pitched by a relief pitcher (50.2 in 1982) and strikeouts by a relief pitcher (54 in 1981 and again in 1982). Among relievers, he is first in career strikeouts (108), second in career innings pitched (100.2), third in appearances (53) and tied for fifth in saves (14). He was the career saves leader for 15 seasons. Cotuit won the league championship in 1981 as Innis went 1-1 with a save in four appearances in the playoffs. He was voted to the All-League Team both seasons and was also selected to the 1980’s All-Decade Team. Innis played seven seasons with the New York Mets, compiling a 10-20 record with a 3.05 ERA from 1987 to 1993.  

Derrick DePriest, Chatham relief pitcher
     The North Carolina Tar Heel set a Cape League record with 15 saves for Chatham in 1999. He posted a perfect 0.00 ERA and struck out 19 in 22.2 innings. He appeared in the All-Star Game, worked one inning and struck out one batter, and was named to the All-League Team as well. DePriest was the recipient of the Russ Ford Award as Outstanding Relief Pitcher. His 22.2 consecutive shutout innings pitched was the second longest such streak of the 1999 season, the eighth best streak in the modern era of the Cape League and the second longest such streak by a reliever. DePriest was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2000 and has been pitching in the minor leagues since then. He played in the Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals minor league systems. His best season came in 2007 at Lancaster in the independent Atlantic League, where he saved 20 games, struck out 64 batters in 59.1 innings and compiled a 2.06 ERA. After a brief stint in Mexico, he returned to the Atlantic League in 2008 to pitch for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, a team owned by Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. 

Robert A. McNeece, Chatham and league administrator
     Bob McNeece was a true pioneer of the Cape Cod Baseball League. In fact, in the early 1960s he was largely responsible for creating the league structure that exists to this day. He served as a Chatham selectmen, held several positions with the Chatham Athletic Association and spent many years as a vocal supporter of baseball on Cape Cod. He used his considerable powers of persuasion to keep Veterans Field in good shape and raise the necessary funds to install its first set of lights. He raised between $10,000 and $15,000 each year to keep a team on the field by extolling the benefits to the community of providing a wholesome, family leisure-time activity. He recognized that even a healthy Chatham team couldn’t survive if its opponent-partners were in trouble. He knew that serious problems threatened the future of the two leagues that were operating in the late 1950s and early ‘60s and was determined to deal with them before it was too late. At that time, the Lower Cape League and the Upper Cape League had very little regard for one another. Their one departure from virtual disdain was to send their respective champions to a Labor Day weekend series which would decide the peninsula title. Even that once-a-year relationship sometimes turned ugly as petty jealousies and personality conflicts put the games in jeopardy. Bob realized that cooperation between these two entities was a necessity if organized baseball were to survive on the Cape, so after the 1962 season, he brought together a group of community leaders and concerned team officials to fashion a plan of action. As chairman of this “organizing committee,” he convinced former foes to become friends and succeeded in effecting the historic merger which began the modern era of baseball on the Cape. As the 1963 season got under way, the two leagues were gone, reorganized into two divisions of a single circuit operating for the first time under the firm hand of a commissioner, Daniel J. Silva. Silva, formerly a highly respected umpire, in turn appointed Bob as one of his two deputy commissioners and the modern era of the Cape Cod Baseball League had begun. From 1972 to 1976, Bob served as league president and he was instrumental in naming Dick Sullivan to the commissioner’s post in the early ’70s. Bob knew that Sullivan, a respected educator, was a perfect choice for the job and Sullivan in turn relied heavily on Bob’s guidance. “He became my mentor and advisor,” says Sullivan. “He was a very thoughtful and considerate man and he did his homework on league issues and problems. He was quiet, but a strong and influential leader who artfully guided the league’s continued growth. I would meet with Bob at his home several nights a week.” Sullivan remembers McNeece as a self-effacing man who was quick to give credit to others for league successes. “Although slender and soft-spoken, he was a giant of a man who brought the league into the modern era and was most instrumental in its growth and success.” The Cape League annually presents the Robert A. McNeece Award to the player chosen as the Outstanding Pro Prospect.

Roche R. Pires, Falmouth pitcher/first baseman
    
Old-timers will tell you that Roche Pires was the best all-around athlete Falmouth ever produced. He played on town baseball, basketball and football teams and excelled at all three sports. He began playing baseball around 1930 in Sunday games with the Waquoit Braves. Soon he was playing seven days a week. He would play the outfield in the Falmouth league, then go over to Mashpee where he would pitch and catch. World War II brought a temporary halt to his baseball career and he served with distinction with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater. But even during that period of turmoil, Roche still managed to play ball. He played basketball in the New Hebrides and Guadalcanal and coached a battalion baseball team on Tinian. When he returned to Falmouth in 1946 at age 27, he wasted no time before joining the Falmouth All-Stars of the Cape Cod League. He pitched two playoff victories over Harwich, leading Falmouth to the 1946 Cape League title after his one-hitter had clinched the Upper Cape crown. His best season may have been 1950 when he authored a no-hit, no-run game against Massachusetts Maritime Academy and hurled a one-hitter against Cotuit to lock up the Upper Cape title. Playing a solid first base when not on the mound, Roche compiled a .362 batting average. As he entered his 40s and 50ss, he retired and unretired several times. He eventually turned to softball and continued to play well into his 50s. Although his schooling as a youth was limited, Roche was a respected member of the community. He set up the Falmouth Boosters Club and volunteered with the Clipper Quarterback Club, which supported the high school football program, and was active in the Cape Verdean Club. He died in 1983 at the age of 66, leaving his wife, two sons and a daughter.


ABOUT THE CAPE COD BASEBALL LEAGUE

     The Cape League originated in 1885 with individual town teams. It was reorganized into the Cape Cod Baseball League in 1923 with teams in Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis and Osterville and again in 1963, when it began what is known as its “modern era.” Today, the 10-team league -- with teams in Chatham, Orleans, Harwich, Brewster, Yarmouth-Dennis, Hyannis, Cotuit, Falmouth, Bourne and Wareham -- is considered by college coaches and Major League scouts to be the premier collegiate summer baseball league in the country.

     A record total of 212 former Cape Leaguers populated major league rosters in 2007, including World Series MVP Mike Lowell (Chatham ’94), AL Comeback Player of the Year Carlos Pena (Harwich ’96/Wareham ’97) former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito (Wareham ’97 & ’98), former AL MVP Frank Thomas (Orleans ’88), former AL batting champion Nomar Garciaparra (Orleans ’93), former NL Fireman of the Year Billy Wagner (Brewster ‘92), Boston Red Sox captain Jason Varitek (Hyannis ’91 & ’93), Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis (Bourne ’00) and Red Sox rookie speedster Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth’04). 

     Current managers and coaches include Yankees manager Joe Girardi (Cotuit ’84), Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer (Sagamore ’65), Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell (Hyannis ’82) and 2007 AL Manager-of-the-Year at Cleveland Eric Wedge (Yarmouth-Dennis ’88).

     The list of Cape League alumni totals some 758 names, including those of Baseball Hall of Famer Harold “Pie” Traynor (Falmouth ’19), former New York Yankee greats Red Rolfe (Orleans ’30) and Thurman Munson (Chatham ’67), ex-Major League managers Bobby Valentine (Yarmouth ’67) and Buck Showalter (Hyannis ’76), Cy Young Award winners Steve Stone (Chatham ’68) and Mike Flanagan (Falmouth ’72), Firemen-of-the-Year Wayne Granger (Sagamore ’62) and Jeff Reardon (Cotuit ’74-76) and Major League scout Lennie Merullo (Barnstable ’35).