The 2016 Cape League Hall of Fame class, from left to right: Kolten Wong, J.C. Holt, Kyle Roller, Jim McCollom, Mark Petkovsek, and Warner Jones. Photo by SportsPix
On a dreary November day, six inductees, who made up the 2016 class, were welcomed into the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Hall of Fame, and for a few short hours it was summer again. The traditional brunch and induction ceremony was held at the Chatham Bars Inn.
The inductees and their families traveled from across the country to share memories of their Cape Cod glory days and to forever become a part of Cape Cod Baseball League history. With this latest class inducted, the current number of Hall of Fame members is now at 143.
Headlining this year’s inductees was Kolten Wong (Orleans, 2010), current second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. J.C. Holt (Brewster 2003), Warner Jones (Wareham 2003-04), Jim McCollum (Falmouth 1984), and Kyle Roller (Bourne 2008-09) were the other four position players. Mark Petkovsek (Chatham 1985-86) was the only pitcher in the group.
Scott Wahle, former broadcaster for WBZ-TV in Boston, served his 15th stint as the master of ceremonies. Wahle also led the audience in the singing of the National Anthem.
Kolten Wong with his Hall of Fame plaque. Photo by SportsPix
Before the plaques were presented, Wahle paused to remember three key people who passed this year. Former CCBL Commissioner, Dick Marr passed away recently. The league also lost Yarmouth-Dennis’ Merrill “Red” Wilson and Cotuit’s Arnold Mycock, earlier this year. Wahle fondly remembered Mycock as the “Godfather of the Cape League”.
A less formal, talk show style format was introduced this year. Inductees were invited on stage after being introduced by a short video that highlighted each of their careers. The videos were voiced over by the legendary Dick Enberg. Once on stage, Wahle used his skills to interview each player.
Mark Petkovsek was up first, and was presented by his teenage sons, Mark Jr. and Jack. Petkovsek finished among the top pitchers in the league rankings during the 1985 and 1986 seasons. He pitched 149 innings for the Chatham A’s and had a 14-4 record with a 2.90 ERA.
The Texas Rangers selected Petkovsek in the first round of the 1987 MLB Draft, but he later played for St. Louis and Anaheim.
Petkovsek recalls being very “bright-eyed and excited about the opportunity to play in the Cape league.”
“I’m very thankful that the phone call came,” he said about being selected for the Hall. “Jokingly, I knew you’d call.”
Scott Wahle talks with Kolten Wong and Wongs presenter, Bill Sandillo. Photo by SportsPix
Next up was J.C. Holt, an outfielder from LSU, who played for the Brewster Whitecaps in 2003. He lead the league with a .388 batting average, produced 52 hits and held a 21 game hitting streak. The Louisiana native was named the league MVP that summer.
Holt was presented by his father, John, and his young son, Gavin. He recalls a fun summer and said the memory of it still brings a smile to his face. “This is baseball at it’s rawest and it is quite an honor to play in this league.”
Tennessee native and Vanderbilt infielder, Warner Jones, was next. Jones, who was a CCBL All Star for the Wareham Gatemen in both 2003 and 2004, was presented by his dad, Elliot. Warner led the league in 2003 with 64 hits and in 2004 with 16 doubles and 17 extra-base hits.
Jones highlighted the All Star game as his favorite memory. It was his second time as an All Star and he was leading off for the West. His friend and Vandy teammate, Ryan Mullins (Chatham), was starting pitcher for the East. He remembers thinking, “These two kids from Nashville, Tennessee, who’ve played baseball together since they were 12 years old, are starting off the best college game in the country. It was pretty special.”
Jim McCollum, a first basemen from Clemson, was presented by his former college assistant coach, Henry “Turtle” Thomas. McCollum played for the Falmouth Commodores in 1984 and lead the league with a hefty .413 batting average and 15 home runs. After hearing those stats, Thomas called McCullom the “Ted Williams of the Cape League”, garnering a big laugh from the audience.
McCullom said playing on the Cape was a special experience. “Everyday you were facing top pitchers and playing alongside the best players in the country.”
Harvey Shapiro, the Bourne Braves field manager, presented Kyle Roller for induction. It was clear that there is a real fondness between these two. Roller played for the Braves in both 2008 and 2009. The CCBL MVP was instrumental with helping the Braves win the Championship in 2009. He had a league leading 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s during the regular season and hit .786 in the 2009 playoffs. Wahle had quite a strong reaction to that stat. “I guess I ate my Wheaties that morning.” joked Kyle.
Roller was selected by the Yankees in 2010 and is currently playing for the Durham Bulls, the AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The last induction of the day belonged to Kolten Wong, who was presented by his Orleans hitting coach, Bill Sandillo.
The University of Hawaii infielder played for the Orleans Firebirds in 2010, hit .341 with 46 hits and 22 stolen bases and was named League MVP. In 2011 he was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals and was called up to the major league level two years later.
Wong acknowledged how blessed he’s been and told the audience he is where he is today because he was given opportunities and he made the most of them. He said that after reading the stats on the other guys, he told his wife, “I’m literally the worst hitter here.”
Wong is one of the youngest players to be selected for the Hall of Fame. His memories are still fresh. He can’t wait to bring his children to the Cape some day, especially to watch a game at Eldredge Field in Orleans. “That is the Cape League.”
“People don’t forget,” he said. “The Cape is such a special place that we all have so many memories of.”
Two special league awards were presented during the brunch portion of the ceremony. Bob St. Pierre, a longtime supporter and volunteer for the Wareham Gatemen, was presented with the Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award. Sue Horton, General Manager for the Orleans Firebirds for the last 16 years, was given the Richard “Dick” Sullivan Executive of the Year Award.