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Cape League 1946 - 54

2002 CCBL Hall of Famer Cal Burlingame
07/21/2020 9:20 AM

Article By: Mike Richard

Cape Cod Baseball League 1946-54

    When the Cape Cod Baseball League resumed after a five-year shutdown due to World War 2, local fans were excited about embracing the sport once again.

There had been a number of semipro teams playing in a twilight league throughout the war years, including one in Barnstable which featured 18- and under players from the villages of Barnstable, Cotuit, Hyannis, Osterville and West Hyannis.

As we spend a summer without Cape Cod League baseball, we will continue take a look back at the teams from the Barnstable area that played in the league between 1946-54.

    In 1946, a total of eleven teams comprised the Cape Cod Baseball league’s two divisions – the Upper Division: Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, Sagamore and Sandwich; and the Lower Division: Barnstable, Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Mass Maritime and Yarmouth.

    Among the new regulations in the league were that all players had to be “bona fide residents of Cape Cod.” This would later be changed to also include all people with homes on the Cape, and then further amended to include any individuals who had summer jobs on the Cape.In addition, paid players were prohibited from the league.

    While Barnstable was among the first teams when the league reorganized in 1946, Cotuit made its debut the following year and then in 1948 Osterville introduced a team for three seasons.

    The season was divided into two halves with the winner of each half meeting in the first round of the playoffs. On the occasion a team won both halves, they would advance straight to the finals.
    Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the Barnstable team through 1946-52:

    Barnstable (1946-52)
    Year     1st     W-L    2nd     W-L    Record

    1946    3rd    5-4-1   1st      9-1    14-5-1            
    1947    3rd     7-5     5th      1-8      8-13
    1948    4th     5-9     7th      5-9    10-18
    1949    6th     9-9     6th      7-9    16-18
    1950    8th     3-13    7th     6-8      9-21
    1951    6th     6-10    2nd   11-7    17-17
    1952    2nd    11-4    DNP  11-4

    In 1946, under manager Pete Brown, the Townies captured the second half with a record of 9-1 and went on to meet first-half winner Harwich in the playoff semifinals. There, Barnstable fell in a three-game series. It was their only playoff appearance through the first seven years.

    One of the top players in the league during this era was Barnstable outfielder Cal Burlingame, who impressed the Red Sox brass so much at their 1946 tryout game that they signed him as an outfielder.

    Barnstable ran into some problems during the 1950 season when Burlingame was declared ineligible because he was a member of the Saginaw Bears of the Central A League. He had previously played in the Red Sox organization in 1948 with the Oneonta team in the Canadian-American League, and then in 1949 with their Scranton A team.

Again in 1951, the Upper Cape League banned Burlingame and forced the Barons to forfeits four victories because he was declared ineligible for being under contract to play for the Saginaw Club of the Central League.

Eventually, by the 1952 season, Burlingame was out of organized baseball and returned to the Cape League where he played for Yarmouth and later Orleans. After his playing days was over, he umpired in the Cape League for six seasons and was elected to the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame in 2002.

Eventually, the Barnstable team felt they were being targeted for past discretions and “raw deals” by league authorities and decided enough was enough. When player Dick Cogeshall was suspended by Commissioner Pat Sorenti, the Barnstable team quit the league at the end of the first half amidst the controversy.

Wareham took over their schedule for the second half and Barnstable remained out of the league for the next two seasons.

    In 1947, Cotuit came into the league for the very first time. It began an unmatched run of 73 consecutive seasons before the cancellation of baseball this summer.

Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the Cotuit team in this span:
Cotuit (1947-54)
    Year    1st     W-L    2nd     W-L    Record

    1947    5th    6-6     5th      4-4    10-10
    1948    5th    5-9     3rd      7-7    12-16
    1949    2nd    13-5  1 st    13-3    26-8
    1950    4th    10-5   1st     13-3    23-8
    1951    7th    5-3     5th      7-8    12-11
    1952    3rd    7-8     2nd     9-5    16-13
    1953    4th    9-8     2nd   12-6    21-14        
   1954    5th    4-11    1st    13-3    17-14
Since the early 1950s, Cotuit was headed by general manager Arnold Mycock, who was known to generations as “Mr. Kettleer.”

Last summer, Cotuit captured its 17th all-time championship, continuing their stronghold as the winningest team in Cape League playoff history. However, during this era of the late 1940s to the mid-50s, Orleans was the dynasty team of the league winning four titles and appearing the finals all eight years.

In 1949, Cotuit won the second half of the Upper Division in their first foray into the playoffs, before the Kettleers were defeated by Falmouth, 2 games to 1. Then the next year, Cotuit rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the first half to win the second half and make it to the playoffs for the second straight year. There, they were a first-round victim to Sagamore, 2-1.

Between 1951-53, Cotuit finished out of playoff contention before coming back in 1954 to take the second half flag in the Upper Division. However, they went on to lose to eventual champion Sagamore in two straight.

After having a team representing the village from 1923-30, Osterville teamed up with Hyannis to join forces as the Barnstable team from 1931-39.

In 1948, Osterville decided to reform and played in the league for three seasons, but never made it out of the second division and could not even post a winning record.

Osterville (1948-50)
    Year    1st     W-L    2nd     W-L    Record

    1948    6th    4-10    5th       7-8      11-18
    1949    8th    6-13    9th       2-12      8-25
    1950    7th    4-12    9th       4-11      8-23

One of the rare bright spots for the Osterville team occurred on June 4, 1949 when pitcher Johnny Drew struck out 14 batters and hurled a no-hitter with a 2-0 win over Cotuit.

The following season there was the drudgery of a 24-0 loss at the hands of Sagamore in 1950, which set a new blowout mark for the league.

This would be the last season for Osterville and they were never heard from again.

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