Cody Pasic and Chris Holcomb - SportsPix Photo
Cody Pasic’s home run in the All-Star Game looked as if a dream was being completely fulfilled – here was the Cape Cod native hitting a moonshot against the best college baseball players in the country. For most, that would be the entirety of the dream.
But for Pasic, it was simply the cherry on top. His dream had been fulfilled the moment he was named to the All-Star team as a member of the Cotuit Kettleers.
The home run symbolized a lot, but his placement in the All-Star game meant a heck of a lot more.
And yeah, that’s right – he also won the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship. Quite the summer.
Pasic’s history with the Cape League is much longer than that of most players; he grew up in Cotuit, Massachusetts and was a big fan of the Kettleers. When he was little, his family was a host family and he attended the camp held by the team. For around three hours on weekdays, kids from surrounding areas head to Cotuit to play baseball with members of the Kettleers.
“It’s pretty much just pickle and little games here and there,” said Pasic about the camp. “How to field a ground ball. It was pretty much the kids go there for daycare and they get to hang out with all these cool players who think they’re rock stars.”
The Rockstar-effect loomed large over Pasic. As well as attending camp, Pasic became a bat boy for the team. He doesn’t remember much about being a bat boy, but he does remember one specific part of the job.
“I just remember I wanted to be one of them,” he said. “I always wanted to be that guy who got to wear the jersey.”
Being a bat boy isn’t the most glamourous job in all of sports – they run out, retrieve strewn bats or a foul ball that stays in play behind the backstop. But in the Cape, being a bat boy has a much different meaning. Bat boys are usually between the ages of eight and 11 and are picked from host families.
To be around a team of players that young kids deem influential at that age is incredible for the growth and dreams of that young kid. In this case, that young kid was Pasic.
“He was always at our games and him and his family were already there, and he had another younger brother and sister, so we remember the family,” said Kettleers General Manager Bruce Murphy. “They became involved in the organization and knowing the family around the ballpark.”
Pasic’s next step with the Kettleers came a few years later when he was an eighth grader going into his freshman year of high school. That’s when he was a bullpen catcher for a summer and learned real, tangible things that elevated his game behind the dish.
“I just remember learning little things like cheat codes on how to beat the ball to a spot,” he said. “And wearing a glove or two.”
Little learning lessons like that are ones that stick with a catcher for the rest of their career. Murphy’s certainly seen the benefits of being a bullpen catcher at such a young age.
“You’re working with the other college catchers who are out there and then you have the coach and assistant coaches come down and work with you,” said the longtime GM. “You’re around the team and you’re out there just learning a lot of little different things about catching.”
Pasic turned those skills into a successful high school career at Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut. It was there that he strengthened an already strong-bond with a future teammate on the Kettleers.
Around the same age as he was a bat boy and attending Kettleers camp, Pasic would meet another imperative person to his journey: Chris Holcomb.
The little league system that Pasic and Holcomb met in has kids from surrounding villages filter into Barnstable to play baseball. That was where the foundation for a lifelong friendship was made.
“I grew up around his family, so his parents are like second parents to me,” said Holcomb of the Pasic family. “They treat me like family. He’s got another brother who’s my age, so if I wasn’t around Cody, I was around his brother. Just going back and forth from each other’s houses since we were little.
Despite always being best friends, Pasic and Holcomb had never been on the same team together. With Holcomb a pitcher and Pasic a catcher, the bond was about as strong as it could be when they played together in high school.
After high school, they went their separate ways to different schools – Pasic to Maine and Holcomb to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
When he went off to play for Maine, the idea of playing for Cotuit, or at least the Cape League, was always in the back of Pasic’s mind.
“I kind of always thought I could [play in the Cape] and knew it was a good stepping stone, but I wasn’t really sure,” he said. “Not a lot of guys come from my school and play here so I wasn’t really sure.”
Maine isn’t exactly a hotbed of Major League Baseball players so even though he was playing college ball, Pasic wasn’t a guarantee for the Cape League. During his first two summers in college, he played in the New York League and in the West Coast League, respectively.
After this past season at Maine, Pasic got the call from Murphy – he was offered a temporary contract with the Kettleers.
“It was wicked surreal,” said Pasic of being offered the deal. “Not thinking you were able to do it and now you’re doing it, everyone’s calling you the hometown boy, and everyone knows about what you’re doing. It was pretty cool.”
Once on the team, Pasic quickly earned his spot and proved he belonged, as he was one of 10 temps to be converted to permanent players on the team. During the regular season, Pasic batted .206 with five RBI – all while commanding a great pitching staff.
With Holcomb, an Osterville native, on the team, it was even cooler that they could throw to each other in games.
Just like old times.
“Yeah no doubt,” said Holcomb on if it made things better that Pasic was catching him. “Especially like the first game he was out there catching me and we just kind of smiled at each other. It was a really good experience.”
Even once he became a permanent player, the pressure was still fully on Pasic because of his Cotuit roots.
“It’s harder for the local kids, whether it’s on this team or any other teams in the Cape,” said Murphy. “It’s a little extra pressure on the kid. Whether it’s competing to be here and then also when he’s here, trying to stay focused cause kids are always asking the local players ‘where’s a good place to go out tonight?’ or ‘who do you know?’. It becomes a little extra pressure on the local kids.”
“You kind of want to show the local people that it’s not just a hand out,” he said. “It’s just not since we’re college baseball players being from here that it’s expected we’re here. We want to show them that the coaches don’t care where you’re from – if you can’t play or keep up, you’re not going to play.
“Cody and I both agree that others don’t understand so we try not to waste our energy on it, but we do try to go out there and prove it to the coaches because they deserve it and they gave us a shot. We both grew up watching so it’s awesome.”
With Pasic’s stellar play behind the dish, the next thing that came was the All-Star game nomination.
“That was probably the most amazing moment,” said Pasic. “Just coming in and everyone was like ‘he probably won’t make it, he’ll probably just be here because he lives here’ and then just going out and showing everyone that I can play with the best of the best. Getting that nomination was pretty cool and just made me feel better about myself.”
See? Murphy and Holcomb weren’t kidding when they talked about pressure on the local kids.
The funny part came with how Pasic heard he’d made the All-Star Game. Contrary to popular belief, All Stars don’t hear that they made it with golden envelopes and elegant ceremonies. Pasic’s way of finding out was actually more special.
“Crazy,” said Pasic of how he found out. “I got a phone call from my mom and she was so excited, and I didn’t even know at the time. She was like ‘You made the All-Star team! Oh my God!’ And I was like ‘What? No way!’ And I went and looked it up and was like that’s crazy. I was jumping with joy.”
The journey to becoming an All Star and a champ in the Cape League started early and after reading his story, you can see how hitting a home run in the All-Star Game was gravy to the main course. It’s one that started from a young age and went up through middle school, into high school, and now through college.
So, what would an Old Pasic tell his younger self?
“Patience,” he said. “Never give up. I would just tell him to never give up, never give up; keep going, keep going. You’ll get there, and I finally got here.”