07/01/2008 9:31 AM
1 July 2008
Gatemen On A Mission To Make Up For Off-Season Loss
WAREHAM, Mass - The winter months on Cape Cod are always brutal, but the winter of 2009 proved to be extra cruel to the Wareham Gatemen organization. In February, the franchise lost long-time President and General Manager John Wylde to his battle with liver cancer. Tom Gay, who is replacing Wylde this season, spent all winter working with the Gatemen organization to draft ideas in order to carry on the undying legacy of their beloved G.M. of 25 years. Although it’s still early in the season, it seems to be paying off thus far.
“I think the feeling in the clubhouse and the feeling in the organization in general is great,” said Gay. “I think everybody has really pulled together on John’s behalf. I don’t think we’ve missed a beat, I think we’ve done really well, and I’m very proud with what’s going on.”
Last Saturday the Gatemen took on the Cotuit Kettleers at Spillane Field’s home opener, and John Wylde was paid a tremendous amount of respect before the start of the game. The game’s first pitch was thrown by John’s wife, Patty before a moment of silence in his memory. The ceremony ended with a beautiful National Anthem performed by “The Singing Trooper” Daniel Clark. The Gatemen defeated the Kettleers 5-4, bringing a memorable night at Spillane Field to a close.
“I thought the night went perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better night,” said Gay. “As far as Patty being there, I think it helped her, and she’s really helped us to get over it too. If you were there and you saw her throw out the first pitch, you saw that she went into the full wind-up and everything. She really enjoyed it.”
The Gatemen have demonstrated some of the most cohesive play so far this season, and it shows. They sit atop the Western Division, tied with Cotuit, with a record of 4-3-1. While their bullpen has been a little bit shaky, there is no doubting the strength of their starters, particularly the strength of Eric Pfisterer (Duke), who has yet to give up a hit in the 12 innings he’s pitched so far. When Pfisterer is not on the mound for Wareham, he can sometimes be seen playing first base.
“I think he’s going to be a standout in the league,” said Gay. “He’s an all-around player. He’s a nice kid; he’s a dedicated kid. He’s somebody I think we’ll see playing in the major leagues in a few years.”
The Gatemen line-up has done a great job getting on base. Alex Dickerson (Indiana), Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech), Chris Hannick (Cal State Northridge), Jake Lemmerman (Duke), and George Springer (Connecticut) have all been contributing with their bats this season. However, when it comes to bringing these guys home, the Gatemen need a little work.
“We’ve put a lot of guys on base but we haven’t been able to push many runs across,” said Gay. “We’re just trying to get our guys used to hitting with wood, and that’s our main concern right now. The home runs, the driving the ball will all come once they get used to the wood.”
It seems as though some of the Gatemen might already be getting used to the wood. Jake Lemmerman barely missed hitting a grand slam last Friday against Y-D, driving in three runs to clinch victory for the Gatemen. Dietrich, who was off to a slow start at the beginning of the season, seems to be growing accustomed to the wood bats as well. Last Thursday during their outing against Harwich, Dietrich hit two solo home runs at Spillane Field. Dietrich, who is currently tied for second in the League for home runs with two, is ranked third in the league for runs scored. But it’s not just Dietrich’s hitting that makes him a valuable member of the Gatemen roster.
“We have a kick-off dinner every year before our first pre-season game, and of course there was a little bit of tension because it’s the first real event with the team,” said Gay. “We were introducing the team, and the guys get up and they’re all really shy and they mumble their names and where they’re from. But Derek stands up, says his name, and went into a little speech, you know, a real rah-rah kind of thing, and I said, ‘that’s it, we’ve got a leader.’ And that’s so important in the Cape League. It’s a short season and it’s important to gel together as a team, and you need a leader for that.”
The Gatemen are surely off to a better start this season than they were last season. At the start of last year, the Gatemen lost seven players to Team USA, and they never fully recovered, finishing last in the Western Division. This year, it looks like luck, and talent, is on their side. With eight players coming in from the College World Series, including three pitchers from the University of Texas who Gay projects will be the 1, 2, and 3 starters for the Gatemen, an already strong clubhouse will presumably only get stronger, especially with the memory of John Wylde lingering in everybody’s hearts.
“It’s amazing how much the kids knew about John and how much he meant to the League as they were coming in, and I think it means a lot to them to be here playing in Wareham,” said Gay. “We have the make up of a good team as far as talent. We have the heart, which I think is important, and getting them to gel together early on as a team is important, and I think that’s already happened. I’m happy.”
By Katy Fitzpatrick, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Michael Campbell, Katy Ann Fitzpatrick