05/26/2008 9:23 AM
Cape League Hosts U.S. Military All-Stars
In Weekend Games at Harwich & Y-D June 7-8
CAPE COD, Mass. - For the fourth straight year, the U.S. Military All-Stars will invade Cape Cod for two weekend baseball games as part of their 19th annual “Red, White and Blue Tour of America” presented by Nokona Baseball Factory. This unique team, which features players from all services and the U.S. Coast Guard and is the only combined Armed Forces squad in the world, will visit an impressive 40 states and four countries this summer.
The U.S. Military All-Stars will play two exhibition games against teams comprised of players from each of the 10 Cape Cod Baseball League franchises. The first game will take place Saturday, June 7, at Harwich’s Whitehouse Field beginning at 7 p.m. Game two will be Sunday, June 8, at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth, starting at 4 p.m.
U.S. Military All-Star Weekend is sponsored by Curry College, the U.S. Army, Eye Health Services and the 99 Restaurants. Both games will also feature the Army's climbing wall, which will be set up next to the field. The military squad’s players will also make numerous appearances during their stay on the Cape, concluding Monday when they visit area schools and tour the Barnstable Bat Co.
"We are delighted to host the Military All-Stars for the fourth year,” said CCBL senior vice president and Military Games Committee chairman Jim Higgins. “Given the sacrifice that the military players make to provide a life that we all enjoy, it is fitting that we provide a venue that reflects our appreciation and gratitude. Our host families that have welcomed the players into their homes in past years are anxious to see if they will greet a familiar face or meet a new member of the military. Host families are vital to our success and help make this event a tremendous way to kick off the Cape Cod Baseball league season!"
The U.S. Military All-Stars recently returned from the first-ever Baseball Friendship Tour in Central America on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Presented by U.S. Southern Command and the State Department, the team was led by former major leaguers Pedro Guerrero, Elias Sosa and Omar Moreno. While touring Central America, they conducted free clinics for thousands of children and competed against national teams in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Nicaragua.
With the recent celebration of Memorial Day and U.S. military personnel still deployed overseas in harm’s way, the CCBL will provide an opportunity for the local community to pay tribute to U.S. troops during what promises to be a memorable and patriotic weekend of baseball and pageantry that brings together more than 70 Cape League players and coaches from all over the country for games against military players from all over the world.
Fielding a competitive squad continues to be a challenge for the U.S. Military All-Stars, particularly during this time of conflict in the Middle East. Many of the players on this year’s roster have served one or multiple tours in the war on terror. Some will arrive back from Iraq on game day, while others will ship out immediately following the last out.
When asked about the dramatic turnover in players, U.S. Military All-Stars founder Lt. Cmdr. Terry Allvord said, “Our mission is to promote the awareness of Americans in support of our troops with a constantly changing roster. Military players need to be competitive from the moment they step off the plane after years of not playing baseball and in many cases a year or more spent deployed overseas.
“The interesting thing is how many of our players make every effort to join the team in time for the Cape games. They all know that we compete against some of the very best players in the country. That’s probably the attraction, along with the history and tradition of the Cape. CCBL officials, families and fans have been so supportive over the years that it’s no wonder one of our favorite places to visit is Cape Cod. We greatly appreciate the time and effort spent on our behalf. Thank You!”
The Saturday game’s CCBL contingent will be led by Harwich Mariners field manager Steve Englert, while Scott Pickler, field manager of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, will take over the reins for game two on Sunday afternoon.
Many CCBL players will be selected by Deputy Commissioner Sol Yas and CCBL general managers at the Frank Finn CCBL Tryout in Wareham on Saturday, May 31.
The return to Cape Cod of the “Red, White and Blue Tour of America” brings together two organizations that proudly symbolize our nation’s great sense of patriotism and tradition. This special series allows the Cape communities to come together and see some of the finest young athletes in the nation compete in our American pastime.
The tour is rewarding for everyone involved, whether they attend an event or volunteer. They will have an opportunity to learn more about the U.S. armed forces at a grass-roots level. The phrase coined by Lt. Cmdr. Allvord, “Hustle, Think, Win,” runs deep in a time where opportunities for us to support our troops and teach our children about patriotism is limited to parades and parents taking the time to share with their children how they feel about being an American.
In addition to playing competitive baseball, the military team has joined forces with Operation Gratitude, a worldwide charitable organization serving all branches of the military. The U.S. Military All-Stars will accept donation to help Operation Gratitude send care packages to our troops overseas. More than 400,000 -- and counting -- have already been sent at a cost of $10 each.
“This year, especially with rising fuel prices and players paying their own travel expenses and participating while off-duty, the schedule of 350 appearances will be difficult,” said Allvord. “A constantly changing roster of more than 130 different players due to operational commitments makes it tough to find a cap that fits, much less organize bunt coverages. But somehow this unique band of American heroes finds a way to execute the mission – they find a way to compete and often to win against significantly superior opponents. Sound familiar? You bet! It’s the American way and that’s what makes the U.S. Military All-Stars and this tour very special!
To learn more about the Military All-Stars’ “Red, White and Blue Tour of America,” visit their web site, www.usmilitaryallstars.us, or click on their link on the Cape Cod League’s web site, www.capecodbaseball.org.
About the U.S. Military All-Stars
The U.S. Military All-Stars are a 501(C)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the tradition of baseball in the Armed Forces. They participate while off-duty; cover their own expenses and decline government funding to ensure all available resources support our brave men and women overseas. The majority of the players selected each year have been deployed in direct support of the Global War on Terrorism. They represent some of the most talented athletes in the armed forces selected from thousands of personnel worldwide. In addition to playing highly competitive baseball, the team has joined forces with Operation Gratitude a worldwide charitable organization serving all branches of the military. We have helped them send over 400,000 care packages to our troops. In 2007, the U.S. Military All-Stars partnered with Louisville Slugger to conduct Operation Slugger II sending over 20 tons of sporting equipment to troops overseas.
About the Cape Cod Baseball League
Beginning its 124th season in 2008, the 10-team Cape League originated in 1885 with individual town teams, was reorganized into the Cape Cod Baseball League in 1923 with teams in Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis and Osterville and is now the premier collegiate baseball summer league in the country.
A total of 212 former Cape Leaguers currently perform in the major leagues, including Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito (Wareham ’97-’98), MVP Frank Thomas (Orleans ’88), AL batting champion Nomar Garciaparra (Orleans ’93), Fireman of the Year Billy Wagner (Brewster ’92), World Series MVP Mike Lowell (Chatham ’94) and Boston Red Sox captain Jason Varitek (Hyannis ’91 & ’93).
Cape League alumni of yesteryear include Baseball Hall of Famer Harold “Pie” Traynor (Falmouth ’19), former New York Yankee greats ‘Jumpin’ Joe Dugan, Red Rolfe (Orleans ’30) and Thurman Munson (Chatham ’67), Cy Young Award winners Steve Stone (Chatham ’68) and Mike Flanagan (Falmouth ’72), 3,000-hit performer Craig Biggio (Y-D ’86), Firemen-of-the-Year Wayne Granger (Sagamore ’61) and Jeff Reardon (Cotuit ’74-76), AL MVP Mo Vaughn (Wareham ’87-88), major league scouts Lennie Merullo (Barnstable ’35) and Bill Enos (Orleans ’36) and major league managers Nat “Buck” Showalter (Hyannis ’76), Bobby Valentine (Yarmouth ’67) and Joe Giradi (Cotuit ’84).