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Historically Speaking - Mike Richard League Historian

06/16/2020 12:16 PM

Article By: Mike Richard

For the first time since World War 2, the Cape will be without the organized Cape Cod Baseball League.

            Back on April 24 of this year, Executive Committee of the Cape Cod Baseball League voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 season in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the official Cape Cod Baseball League website, “the decision was based on the health concerns and safety needs of all involved. Following CDC guidelines and medical recommendations, the league determined it would be impossible to guarantee the safety of players, coaches, umpires, host families, volunteers and fans during this unprecedented health crisis.”

Cape Cod Baseball League president Chuck Sturtevant noted at the time that Major League Baseball’s outlook on the pandemic was, “the risk was greater than the reward.”

So, as a result, we will be spending a baseball-less summer on Cape Cod.

While I fully understand the decision behind this and was among the members of the Cape Cod League Executive Committee to cast my vote among the unanimous decision, it is still a disappointment.

Particularly so, since I was recently appointed as the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League.

It was quite an honor for me, and something I was looking forward to after spending many months through the off season compiling a detailed history of the league.

The impetus behind all of this came last summer during the playoff finals when Game 1 lingered into the 15th inning before Cotuit emerged with a 7-6 victory. The next day, I asked a league official if that was the longest game in playoff history and was told it probably was.

So, I noted that in my story of the game, but then my curiosity got the better of me so I started digging…. and searching … and researching.

What I uncovered was that – yes, it was the longest game in finals history, but not the longest game in Cape League playoff history.

On Aug. 8, 1989, Yarmouth-Dennis beat Brewster 2-1 in a semifinal game that also went 15 innings. However, it wasn’t the longest game ever. That came on Aug. 10, 2008 when Harwich eked out a 1-0 win over Orleans in an 18-inning marathon semifinals game.

That little tidbit led to more digging and more research, and before I knew it, I had compiled statistics from every playoff game dating back to 1963, the first season of the modern era, to the present.

Well, why stop there?

I then compiled playoff statistics from 1946 (the post-World War 2 era) through 1962, then decided to go all the way back to the beginning of the league from 1923-39.

Once playoff statistics were completed, I hit the microfilm to go game-by-game from the regular season to compile more information: no-hitters, high scoring games, extra-inning games, multiple home run games, high strikeout games, etc.

Anything worth noting was added to the list. And, to be honest, I came up with some rather unique and obscure notes on the league.

Here are just some of them from the past 25 years:

  • Making the Long Ball Count – Todd Helton won the CCBL All Star Home Run Hitting contest in 1994 but did not hit a regular season home run in the Cape League that year for Orleans.
  • Pick offs: On the evening of July 7, 1995, an amazing total of five runners combined are picked off first base in a Hyannis 8–6 victory over Brewster.
  • Home Run Drought: On July 16, 1996, Bourne’s Brett Bredensteiner hit the first home run of the season for Bourne, which hadn’t hit one in their first 27 games.
  • Whiff Master – Pitcher Seth Etherton of Chatham struck out a total of 29 batters over two consecutive outings between July 25-Aug. 1, 1996.
  • “Sun Delay” – On July 27, 1996, umpires called a 33-minute sun delay at Coady Field in Bourne with sun setting low behind the pitcher’s mound in the top of the 8th with Bourne holding a 5–4 lead over Hyannis.
  • One-hitters, consecutive games: On July 15, 1997, Yarmouth-Dennis pitcher Donald Rushing threw a one-hitter to defeat Bourne, 11-0; the night before, his teammate Chance Capel one-hit Chatham, 1-0.
  • Same Scores –Same Night: On Aug 3, 1998, all three Cape Cod Baseball League games played ended with the same 4-3 score:  Brewster 4 – Harwich 3; Yarmouth-Dennis 4 – Orleans 3 and Chatham 4 – Hyannis 3.
  • Cape League and Major League no-hit man – Former Falmouth pitcher Eric Minton of the Minnesota Twins became the only pitcher to throw a Cape League no-hitter (July 5, 1996; Falmouth 2 – Orleans 0) and a Major League baseball no-hitter (Sep. 11, 1999, Minnesota 7 – Anaheim 0).
  • Deuces are Wild – On July 11, 2000, in the midst of a seven-run first inning, Yarmouth-Dennis gets a 2-run triple from Shaun Larkin, a 2-run double from Jason Cooper and a 2-run home run from Danny Lopaze en route to an 11–6 win over Bourne.
  • You’re Out – but You Have a Milestone – On July 30, 2001, Orleans manager Don Norris won his 100th career victory, despite being ejected from the game in the 10th for arguing a call. Orleans beat Bourne in 12 innings, 4–2.
  • Whiff and Win – On July 11, 2003, Harwich struck out 18 times, but got the runs when it counted with a 7-1 win over Cotuit.
  • Making the Long Ball Count More – Last year, New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso won Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game Home Run Derby. What made that most ironic was he did not hit a single home run when playing on the Cape for Bourne in 2015.

So, while we won’t be able to trek out to the ballparks to watch Cape League baseball this summer, it will give me an opportunity to take my own trek – back into the past.

Throughout the summer, I plan to review and recall past seasons of the Cotuit Kettleers and the Hyannis Mets/Harbor Hawks on these sports pages.

We may not be able to “take you out to the ballgame” this summer, but we can bring back some pleasant memories of the past.

Next Week: Cape Cod Baseball League 1923-29

Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at [email protected].