CHATHAM – The Cape Cod Baseball League welcomed its 13th Hall of Fame class for induction Saturday, once again accepting the hospitality of Chatham Bars Inn to celebrate in style. The eight new members expand the prestigious Hall membership to a total of 124.
While the newest class may have lacked a little of the pizzazz of some of its predecessors – current Red Sox southpaw reliever Andrew Miller is probably its best-known member – there was little doubt of the worthiness of those inducted.
There was no shortage of appreciation from the honorees, and the audience at the well-attended event welcomed them enthusiastically.
There were special memories shared as Miller, Billy Best, John “Jack” Aylmer, Dan DeMichele and Jim Sherman received their plaques. Being posthumously inducted were John Carroll, Danny “Deacon” MacFayden and Laurin Peterson.
At a pre-induction brunch, Massachusetts Maritime Academy athletic director and longtime baseball coach Bob Corradi was presented with the Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wareham president and general manager Tom Gay received the Richard “Dick” Sullivan Executive of the Year Award.
Miller was presented by former Chatham general manager Charlie Thoms, who was Miller’s house parent for the summers of 2004-05.
Best’s 32-game hitting streak for Falmouth in 1979 is still a league record (he hit in 39 of 41 games that season and hit .398). After playing five years in the minors, Best went into coaching (he was head coach at Elon) and scouting. “My wife Sharon came up to visit in 1979 for the All-Star game at Fenway,” Best said. “She got in a van with about eight guys for the ride to Boston and some Falmouth people unfurled a banner – “Hyannis has the Kennedys but Falmouth has the Bests.” Best also joked about his great living situation – in Falmouth Heights next to the beach and the night spots. His summer job? That was another story. “I’d like to apologize to Geoff Converse, Charlie Murray and anyone else whose house we may have painted back then,” said Best’s Commodore teammate, Gregg LaCasse, in his introductory remarks.
Current University of Delaware head coach Jim Sherman, a two-year all-star for Chatham in 1980-81 and former Sportsmanship Award winner, gave a lively speech, as did his presenter, Chatham teammate Dave Stenhouse. They talked of living in a haunted house their first summer – made famous in a 1981 Sports Illustrated article on the league, postgame “Coca-Colas” at the Chatham Squire and joked about how, in his second season, Sherman ended up having four girls ages 16-20 as roommates. Sherman and Stenhouse regaled their Chatham teammates with tales of their haunted house – doors opening and closing, strange noises – and were met with a lot of razzing. “But I challenged any of them to come and spend a night in that room and none did,” Sherman said. When the laughter died, Sherman got serious. “When I was an 8-year-old kid I walked a mile to a tryout,” he said. “I didn’t make it and walked back crying my eyes out. When I was 9, my dad asked me if I wanted to try again. I said I didn’t know. “Two state high school championships, three NCAA Regionals, an American Legion World Series and 22 years of coaching later, I’m glad that 9-year-old made that mile walk.”
Aylmer, the former state senator and Massachusetts Maritime Academy president, was a player and administrator in the league and was a force in bringing Hyannis to the league in 1976 and Bourne in 1988. He was introduced by his son, Patrick, who called his father his hero.
DeMichele was a four-year standout – he hit .330 from 1965-69, much of that when he was still in high school. He later went on Harvard, where he starred in hockey and baseball. His son Joey played at Arizona State and in Hyannis in 2011 before signing with the White Sox.
Cape League Hall of Famer Bob Butkus presented MacFayden for induction. Butkus played for the 17-year major league pitcher and Truro native at Bowdoin in the mid-1960s. MacFayden went 9-2 for Osterville in 1924, and threw a one-hitter for Falmouth against Hyannis in 1925 before signing with the Red Sox. He led the AL with four shutouts in 1929, and in the 1935 tied the then-NL record with 15 strikeouts.
Family friend John Freeman and son Ken Peterson presented Laurin “Pete” Peterson. Peterson played for Orleans, and then managed for 14 years, winning seven championships from 1947-57. His son recalled him as one of the first managers to start recruiting college and semipro players to bolster the local talent. “My father would be very enthusiastic and excited about this, but also very humble,” Ken Peterson said.
John Carroll was presented by his son, John N. Carroll, who recalled a modest man. Carroll managed Chatham in 1961-63 and Harwich 1968-69, but made his biggest name as the Hall of Fame coach at Natick, where he became the first Massachusetts coach to win over 500 games. He captained Duke’s 1952 College World Series team. After retiring from Natick he moved to Chatham, and coached Chatham High for a couple of seasons. One day after being diagnosed with cancer, the younger Carroll recalled how his father asked him to pull a box of photographs and papers out of the closet and the two went through them. “Dad, you were the first coach in Massachusetts with 500 wins? “Ah, yes. “Dad, you never told me you were the last captain of a Duke team that went to the College World Series. “Ah, yes. “Dad, this photo of you and Ted Williams. Were you friends with Ted Williams? “Ah, yes. “Dad, this letter inviting you to try out for the Brooklyn Dodgers? Did you try out? “Ah, yes. “That’s it. That’s what I got out of him. He was a very humble man.”