TAKE TWO… AND HIT TO RIGHT
By John Garner, Jr.
| Ever since Warner Brothers produced, “Summer Catch,” a romantic comedy featuring hard-throwing southpaw Freddie Prinze Jr. and Shore Road socialite Jessica Biehl six years ago, the Cape Cod Baseball League has enjoyed a rise in popularity unparalleled since its origin in 1885.
Increased crowd support, countless feature stories by local, regional and national media and games being web-cast on the internet are just three examples how the CCBL has evolved into a favorite pastime of summer vacationers on this sand-filled peninsular southeast of Boston.
According to league president Judy Walden Scarafile, the CCBL witnessed an increase in attendance by a whopping 40 percent during the summer of Summer Catch’s premiere in 2001 and another 25 percent the following season in 2002.
Since then, the Cape League’s popularity has sky-rocketed, with fans, players, coaches and fans wanting to get a piece of this gem of a summer league.
Last summer, the Cape League enjoyed an amazing 17.5 million hits on its web-site (www.capecodbaseball.org), making it one of the most popular sports web-sites in New England.
It seems people JUST can’t get enough of this little collegiate summer league that is run by local volunteers and charges no admission to its games.
Jim McGonigle, CCBL Director of Communications, fields calls from such faraway places as England, Germany, Japan and even the United Arab Emirates.
“We’ve had people from all over the world contact us with some pretty strange requests,” said McGonigle. “One couple wanted to be married on a pitcher’s mound at a Cape League park, while another family celebrated their grandfather’s 95th birthday at a ballgame (at Eldredge Park) in Orleans. We try to accommodate them whenever we can.”
The CCBL is even beginning to draw in icons from other sports such as broadcasting legend Fred Cusick of the Boston Bruins and former GM Jan Volk of the Boston Celtics.
Cusick, television and radio voice of the Boston Bruins for over 30 years, is play-by-play announcer for the Cape League Game of the Week on WBZ1030.com, while Volk’s company SportsPix, is the official photography company of the league. You can often find Jan at a game shooting pictures for his extensive gallery of player photos.
Tim Jones, executive editor of EasternSlopes.com, is writing a cover story on the CCBL for the New York Daily News Travel section on Sunday, July 15, opening up the league to yet another group of future fans.
Fox 25 Television in Boston has constructed an interactive web-site on the CCBL complete with player profiles, web-casting and interviews.
On Tuesday night at Cotuit’s Lowell Park, Fox sports anchors Butch Stearns and Ryan Asselta did live interviews with CCBL Commissioner Paul Galop and Kettleers’ manager Mike Roberts during its 5 p.m. newscast.
In addition, the SKYFOX helicopter was hovering overhead shooting photos, with Kevin Lemanowicz doing a weather report on Cape Cod.
Fox is planning several more trips to the Cape this summer, including another live shoot at Red Wilson Field at Y-D Tuesday and a July 4th special at Bourne with news reporter Mark Ockerbloom interviewing a Braves’ player and his host family.
And to think it all started with a fictitious local boy named Ryan Dunne, who finally got his shot at the big-time, only to be distracted by the pangs of romance…
CCBL NOTES: After vaulting out of the gates with a 6-0 record, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox have come back to earth by losing three of their last five games. Slugging shortstop Gordon Beckham (Georgia) of Y-D is hitting an even .400 with three homers and 10 RBI and has captured back-to-back coca Cola Player of the Week awards. The Red Sox also features two pitchers, Scott Green (Kentucky) and Bobby Gagg (Coastal Carolina) among the top five hurlers in the league in ERA, not to mention last year’s co-pitcher of the year Terry Doyle (Boston College), who is 2-1. The Bourne Braves have taken over the West Division League at 6-3-1, thanks in part to the strong hitting of shortstop Kevin Hoef (Iowa), who’s second in the league at .424 and outfielder Brian Pruitt (Stetson), who’s seventh at .382 along with an impressive 13 RBI. Former Hyannis Mets field manager Keith Stohr, who’s now a major league scout, clocked his son and former Mashpee standout, Tyler Stohr (North Florida), at a recent Mets’ game with a 95 MPH fastball. After a 1-7 start, the Falmouth Commodores have won two consecutive games at Hyannis and vs. Harwich and now welcome back pitcher John Wallace and infielder Joey Wong, who led Oregon State to its second straight College World Series Championship last weekend.