HARWICH, Mass. – Whitehouse Field, home of the defending champion and Cape League-leading Harwich Mariners, will be the center of the collegiate baseball world today (Saturday, July 28) as East meets West in the annual Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game.
The nationally televised contest is scheduled to start shortly after 6 p.m., and will be preceded by the Hy-Line Home Run Contest, autograph sessions featuring all players on both squads and a few extra surprises designed to make it an extra-special family affair.
This is the 25th meeting of East and West divisional squads, a rivalry which started 1988, the same year the Cape League expanded from eight to 10 teams and switched from aluminum to wood bats. There has been one tie in the series (6-6 in 1996) which the East leads, 12 wins to 11.
Some say it is the Cape League’s 50th all-star game, but the records do not bear this out. Prior to 1963, the Upper Cape and Lower Cape leagues met in all-star competition, but the first such game in the league’s modern era was played at Keith Field in Sagamore in1963, matching the best players in the Cape League against the Cranberry League’s best. The Cape squad rolled to an easy 15-2 victory.
For the next six seasons, the matchup was Upper Cape Division vs. Lower Cape Division. That brings the running total to seven games, not including the pre-1963 contests.
Starting in 1970, the Cape League and the Atlantic Collegiate League met annually with most of the games played at Major League parks, including New York’s Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and Fenway Park in Boston. Bad weather forced a cancellation in 1978 and in 1972 scheduling difficulties resulted in no game, although the defending champion Falmouth Commodores filled the date by hosting a pickup team from the rest of the league, winning 8-1.
Discounting that “unofficial” contest and factoring in the cancellation, the CCBL-ACBL series covered 16 games, bringing the running total to 23. Add the 24 East-West contests from 1988 through 2011 and the total is 47, making today’s game the 48th since the league entered its modern era.
Fox College Sports will televise this year’s contest, with Eric Frede and Lou Merloni behind the play-by-play and analyst’s microphones, respectively. Sandwich native Katy Fitzpatrick will be the sideline reporter. It’s Frede’s fifth straight Cape All-Star Game assignment and Merloni’s third.
For the sixth consecutive year, radio coverage of the game will be provided by WCAI and the Cape and Islands’ NPR stations, located at 90.1, 91.1 and 94.3 on the FM band. The broadcast will also be streamed live on www.capeandislands.org. Play-by-play coverage will be provided by former Chatham Internet announcer Dan D’uva with analysis from Kevin McGonigle of the Bourne Braves staff. WCAI’s Steve Junker will conduct on-field interviews between innings.
The telecast will include cameo appearances by six of the eight Major League Baseball managers who played in the Cape League -- Bobby Valentine (Red Sox), John Farrell (Blue Jays), Buck Showalter (Orioles), Robin Ventura (White Sox), Jim Tracy (Rockies) and Mike Matheny (Cardinals) – who will offer a few well-chosen words of wisdom. Eric Wedge (Mariners) and Joe Girardi (Yankees) had agreed to participate, but the Ichiro trade on July 23 threw their schedules out of whack.
More than two dozen people will be on site in Harwich working on the FCS telecast, which for the fifth consecutive year is produced by USA World Events. Working in conjunction with Kitay Productions and D2 Productions, Tom Souza of USA World Events is executive producer and Joel Kitay is producer/director, with Damon Movitz the technical manager and Dave Walzer the technical director. The highly skilled crew includes many of the same audio and video technicians, videotape operators and cameramen who work on NESN telecasts of Red Sox Games from Fenway Park.
Fox College Sports is available to more than 60 million American homes and is seen by viewers in the nation’s 25 largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta, and Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis and Tampa. Key distribution partners include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Verizon FIOS, AT&T, U-Verse, Mediacom Communications and Cable One.
Gary Ehrlich, executive vice president, Fox Sports Networks, said, “We’re excited to team up with the Cape Cod Baseball League to televise this great event on Fox College Sports. The Cape Cod League All-Star Game features some of the best collegiate baseball players in the nation representing teams from this premiere summer baseball league. We’re proud that we can offer a platform for these great young athletes to showcase their talents to baseball fans across the country.”
Derek Crocker, senior manager of collegiate sports for Fox Sports Media Group, advised fans to go online to http://fcs.channelfinder.net/start.asp to find the appropriate cable channel in their area. Locally, Comcast’s outlets across Cape Cod will carry the game live starting at 6 p.m. ET on FCS Atlantic (channel 262). Repeat airings are scheduled at midnight ET on FCS Pacific (264) and at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on FCS Central (263). All three FCS channels will be airing repeat telecasts of the game periodically until late August.
DirecTV subscribers may watch the game live on satellite channel 623 starting at 6 p.m. ET.
The All-Star Game Committee announced late Thursday that the ceremonial first pitch will be tossed by two VIPs this year. Joining recently retired Boston Marathon director Guy Morse will be NCAA official Kathy Sulentic.
Morse, a resident of Centerville, headed the Boston Marathon for 28 years until retiring at the end of 2011. “I’m very excited about throwing out the first pitch at the CCBL All-Star Game,” he said. “I’ve been involved in sporting event ceremonies all around the world, some exotic, some solemn, but truthfully this is very special to me because it celebrates sport at its very best, and is on Cape Cod, my home.”
Morse is credited with growing the Boston Marathon from a regional race that attracted a few thousand runners to today’s international spectacle which features 27,000 or more runners. He also brought such sponsors as Adidas USA and John Hancock Financial Services into the fold. But he is most proud of having created a support program for elite athletes and developing a successful charity program which has raised more than $100 million for organizations such as the Jimmy Fund and Children’s Hospital.
Sulentic is assistant director of enforcement in the NCAA’s investigation and processing group, based in Indiana. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska. She worked in athletics for the Cornhuskers and at the University of Colorado as an athletic academic advisor.
She went on to Roger Williams University’s School of Law and was a corporate attorney in the Boston law office of Greenberg Traurig before joining the NCAS in 2010.
Said CCBL President Judy Scarafile, “We are thrilled to have Kathy be part of our All-Star Game here on Cape Cod.”