07/13/2009 2:45 AM
Article By: John Garner Jr.
CAPE COD, Mass. – During the past century, the Cape Cod Baseball League has been a virtual launching pad for future major league players, including several who’ve performed for the nearby Boston Red Sox.
The list of Cape Leaguers who have played for the local entry includes 11 players on the 2009 Boston roster, including Daniel Bard (Wareham, 2005), Aaron Bates (Brewster 2005), Jason Bay (Chatham, 1999), Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth, 2004), pitching coach John Farrell (Hyannis, 1982), Mark Kotsay (Bourne, 1994), Javier Lopez (Falmouth, 1997), Mike Lowell (Chatham, 1994), Justin Masterson (Wareham, 2005), Jason Varitek (Hyannis, 1991, 1993) and Kevin Youkilis (Bourne, 2000).
After a 22-year absence, the 47th Under Armour Cape League All-Star Game is scheduled to return to Fenway Park, Thursday, July 23, in a 7:05 start, so it is appropriate to unlock the memory vaults to remember former Cape Leaguers who have donned a Red Sox uniform.
The first recorded Cape League player to perform for the Red Sox was ‘Jumpin Joe’ Dugan, a roommate, friend and teammate of Babe Ruth. His best MLB season was 1920, when he batted .322 for the Philadelphia A’s. In 1922, Dugan was traded by the Athletics to the Boston Red Sox. A product of Holy Cross, Dugan was sent by the Red Sox to the Yankees in a controversial deal. Dugan played in five World Series with the Yankees and his best year for them was 1923 when he hit .283 and scored 111 runs, helping the Yankees win their first World Championship. He was the third baseman on the 1927 Yankees, a team considered by many the greatest of all-time.
Another former Cape Leaguer to perform for the Red Sox was Wilfrid "Lefty" Lefebvre, who performed for Orleans in 1936-37. In his first major league game for the Red Sox on June 10, 1938, he belted a home run off Chicago White Sox hurler Monty Stratton (played by actor Jimmy Stewart in “The Monty Stratton Story”), after coming in relief for starter “Broadway” Charlie Wagner. Serving in World War II, his lifetime totals were 5-5 with 5.03 ERA in 32 games and 132.3 innings of work and he later became a major league scout covering the Cape League.
Along with CCBL Hall of Fame inductee Harold “Pie” Traynor, hard-hitting catcher Carlton Fisk (Orleans ’66) is one of two National Baseball Hall of Famers who played in the Cape League. Fisk caught for Orleans during the playoffs in 1966 and belted a home run his first at-bat on the Cape. He caught more games than any catcher in major league history for the Red Sox and White Sox, before his record was broken this season by Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and still holds the record for most home runs by a catcher.
Fisk and Varitek join several other Red Sox catchers who earned their stripes in the CCBL, including Roger LaFrancois (Orleans '75-'76), who backed up Fisk, Bob Montgomery and Tim McCarver on the 1975 AL Pennant winners, Marc Sullivan (Orleans '77, Chatham '78) – son of former Red Sox owner and GM Haywood Sullivan -- , John Marzano (Wareham '82), Doug Mirabelli (Hyannis '90), Kelly Shoppach (Harwich '00) and Kevin Cash (Falmouth '99).
During a game in 1998, the Red Sox started a team that included seven former Cape Leaguers, including pitcher John Wasdin, catcher Jason Varitek, first baseman Mo Vaughn, second baseman Lou Merloni, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, third baseman John Valentin, and outfielder Darren Bragg. Varitek, Vaughn and Garciaparra are all members of the Cape League Hall of Fame.
The former Cape League official who has had the longest running association with the Boston Red Sox is former CCBL public relations director Dick Bresciani, who for many years held the same post with Boston and is currently a vice president for the ballclub and a member of the CCBL Hall of Fame.
Current Red Sox Cape League Alumni
Daniel Bard (Wareham, 2005), North Carolina
Starting pitcher for West in 2005 CCBL All-Star Game. In one inning struck out two and gave up no hits.
Was all-league pitcher. Finished 3-3 and led league with 10 GS, 65 IP, 82 K. Finished third with 1.25 ERA.
Aaron Bates (Brewster ’05)
Starting first baseman for the West in the 2005 CCBL All-Star Game in Hyannis. Finished as fourth top hitter in the league with a .333 batting avg. with three home runs and 16 RBI.
Jason Bay (Chatham, 1999), Gonzaga
Did not play in All-Star Game. In 37 games he hit .224-3-10 with 20 walks and 4 stolen bases. Chatham had a league-best 30-14 record and won the East. Lost in finals to Cotuit.
Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth, 2004), Oregon State
In 28 games hit .245 with three triples and 12 stolen bases. Was fourth outfielder for the Commodores, who won the West Division and lost to Y-D Red Sox in the championship.
John Farrell (Hyannis, 1982), Oklahoma State
In 11 games was 0-6, 9.31 ERA, 48.1 IP, 7 GS, 68 H, 31 W, 44 K.
Hyannis lost to Chatham in finals as Ed Lyons won his only CCBL title. In two playoff games Farrell was 0-0, 2.65 ERA in 14 IP, 16 H, 3 W, 6 K.
Mark Kotsay (Bourne, 1994), Cal-Fullerton
Was West starting LF and went 4-0-0-0 in 6-1 win over East at Orleans. He hit .268-2-14 with 13 SB in 39 G.
Javier Lopez (Falmouth, 1997), Virginia
In 5 games was 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 7 IP. He gave up 7 hits, walked 5 and struck out 4.
Mike Lowell (Chatham, 1994), Florida International
He was starting second baseman for East Division, going 3-0-0-0 in a 6-1 win by West at Orleans. He was the all-league second baseman hitting .307-1-10. In 42 games at second he led in fielding percentage at .982, total chances (217), Putouts (84) and double plays (23). He was second in assists with 129 (league leader had 130).
Justin Masterson (Wareham, 2005), Bethel College
Was losing pitcher in ASG as East won 1-0 scoring in ninth inning. In his one IP he gave up two hits. Evan Longoria moved the winning run to third with an infield single. The run scored on a double play in lowest scoring ASG. He was 3-1 in 22 G with 10 SV. In 31.1 IP he gave up 19 H, 39 K and 9 W. Was third in saves and tied for second in games.
Jason Varitek (Hyannis, 1991, 1993), Georgia Tech
He was .263-0-7 in 24 games. On 11 August he caught Richard King’s no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Wareham in the first round of the playoffs. It is the only playoff no-hitter in Cape League history. Was West Division starting catcher in 1993 ASG and went 2-1-0-0. Teammate Matt Morris was winning pitcher. Varitek was .371-3-22 and won the league batting title and also named MVP. Also named to the all-league team. He caught 18 G with a .992 fielding percentage, with 1 error in 129 total chances. On 29 July he caught Matt Morris’ six-inning no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Falmouth.
Kevin Youkilis (Bourne, 2000), Cincinnati
He was West Division starting third baseman and was 5-0-0-0 in 7-6 win by East at Brewster. Was all-league third baseman. Youkilis was .309-3-14 and led the league in OBP at .488 and walks with 40. He hit a home run in his first at-bat, and the first home run of the CL 2000 season. He joined Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk on the list of players who homered in their first Cape League at-bat.
Former Cape League and Boston Red Sox players:
||Bou '91, Cot '92
||Brewster '88, '89
||Har '96, War '9
||Orl '77, Cha '78
By John Garner, Jr.