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Hyannis’ 40th birthday marks Tim Ellstrom’s 37th year with franchise

Tim Ellstrom has been "The Voice" of the Hyannis franchise for almost 20 years. (Photo credit Alexis Downie)

     The Hyannis (Mets) Harbor Hawks celebrated their 40th year in the Cape Cod Baseball League on Saturday night. During the game, fans were invited to join in the festivities celebrating this milestone. Activities included raffles, face painting, pitching for a radar gun, free cake and ice cream, and an opportunity to meet the team mascot, “Ossie”.

     Hyannis began playing at their current location, McKeon Park, in 1979, as the Hyannis Mets. The Mets entered the season as the reigning league champions and continued their dominance over the league, claiming the championship again that August. The team’s most recent league championship was in 1991. They changed their name to the Harbor Hawks in 2010. In 2015, Hyannis named the field at McKeon the Judy Walden Scarafile Field, to honor the former league president for her decades of service.

     The Hyannis organization’s longevity in the CCBL is made possible by the many people who volunteer and support the team. One man, Tim Ellstrom, has stood out in the Hyannis franchise, making the team his number one priority during the summer months for over three decades.

     This year marks Ellstrom’s 37th season with the Hyannis (Mets) Harbor Hawks. Ellstrom experienced his first Cape League game in the summer of 1976, while on a family vacation in Eastham. He immediately fell in love with the atmosphere of the Cape League and its surrounding areas. Upon returning to his home in Upstate New York, Ellstrom was motivated to make the move to Cape Cod. He even subscribed to the Cape Cod Times so he could keep up with the league during the 1977 and 1978 seasons.

Hyannis celebrated 40 years in the Cape Cod Baseball League with a birthday bash at McKeon Park. (Photo credit Alexis Downie)

     In 1979, Ellstrom made the move from New York to Cape Cod and he frequented Hyannis games. Ellstrom recalls being approached by Jack Aylmer, the founder of the Hyannis franchise. Aylmer had noticed Ellstrom at several previous games and asked if he would be interested in helping “pass around the hat”. Ellstrom explains, “That’s the last time I had a free summer.” He became the announcer for the Hyannis Mets the following season.

     Ellstrom held his position as announcer for several years, until he became the general manager of the team. Ellstrom has held many positions in the franchise including President, Vice President, and Secretary. The only job Ellstrom has not held is Treasurer. He explains, “The money - I don’t want anything to do with that.” He made his return to the announcer’s booth 15 to 20 years ago.

     After so many years with Hyannis, Ellstrom has become a walking encyclopedia for the franchise. Brad Pfeifer, President of the Hyannis Athletic Association, refers to Ellstrom as a “historian” explaining that he still recalls players from the beginning of his career. Ellstrom’s memory is exceptional. One player in particular, Robin Ventura, has left a lasting impression on him. Ventura played for Hyannis during the 1987 season, the same year he set the collegiate record for consecutive games with a hit, 58. Ellstrom recalls Ventura’s debut with the Mets, “First time up he hit a line drive to right center for a base hit and you just knew he was good. He was a class individual.” Since his days in the Cape League, Ventura has played many seasons in the MLB and is currently the manager of the Chicago White Sox.

     In 2004, Ellstrom received the Sullivan Tire Team Volunteer of the Year Award for the Hyannis franchise. This award is given to one volunteer from each of the ten Cape League teams. The winners of this award exemplify what it means to be a volunteer for the league. They go beyond what is asked of them and strive to help the team in any way possible both on the field and off. Ellstrom received this award for his decades of work within the franchise and his tireless efforts to maintain the prestige of this league.

Fans were treated to cake and ice cream in celebration of Hyannis' 40th anniversary in the CCBL. (Photo credit Alexis Downie)

     Ellstrom was honored again in 2006 when he was given the most esteemed award the Cape League has to offer, the Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented by the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame committee and goes to one individual each season that has positively impacted the league through his or her volunteer services. Winners of this award possess and personify the qualities of professionalism, respect, integrity, and have a feeling for fairness. Ellstrom was unanimously chosen to receive this award and was honored during the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

     Cape League President, Chuck Sturtevant, said, “Tim has a great voice and a vast knowledge of Hyannis and league history. A few years ago the league awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Tim which he so richly deserved. Tim is an asset that every franchise should have.” Ellstrom explained what it meant to receive the Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award, “It made me feel good because it wasn’t just from the franchise, it was the whole league, which is what I liked.” Ellstrom remembers that day fondly because he was able to share that experience with his mother, who has since passed away.

     Tim Ellstrom is an asset to Hyannis and the league as a whole. He has been with the Cape League so long he has seen the sons of former players follow in their father’s footsteps and play in this premier summer college league. When asked what motivates him to come back year after year, Ellstrom explained, “I can’t imagine doing anything else in the summer time.”