June is here, which means Cape Cod Baseball League action is just around the corner. This season will start with a bang on June 12, when all ten of the league’s teams will take the field all over the Cape. The regular season runs until early August, with the playoffs extending into the middle of August.
The Cape Cod Baseball League has long been one of the country’s top developmental associations. In fact, the 2018 MLB draft saw 13 former or current Cape Cod leaguers selected in the first round alone, including the draft’s first three picks, and 58 of the league’s players chosen over the first four rounds.
If you decide to buy a home on Cape Cod, you’ll hear a lot about the league in the summer, and it’s well worth checking out some games. You might even have to choose a favorite team to support, based on where on the Cape you end up buying.
The CCBL dates back to 1885, and over that time, it has become perhaps the nation's top amateur league. Originally, the league was populated by local and regional players looking for something to do in the summer. After the First World War, the league was mostly made up of returning soldiers, which is something that occurred again in the late 1940s after World War Two.
In 1963, the Cape Cod Baseball League was officially sanctioned by the NCAA as a collegiate summer league. This distinction means that college players can participate in the league during their off-season without ruining their NCAA eligibility.
Many teams used the name of Major League squads until 2008, when MLB decided it would enforce the trademarks it owns, forcing teams to either change their names or pay for their merchandise and uniforms through official avenues. As a result, most teams changed their names for the 2009 season.
Since the league attracts so many top college players every summer, it makes sense that numerous MLB all-stars and hall of famers have spent a summer or two on the Cape. In 2017, 306 league alumni participated in at least one Major League Baseball game, a number that has grown continually over the years.
Carlton Fisk is perhaps the most notable player to have participated in the Cape Cod Baseball League and was the second alumni named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Fisk played for the Orleans Cardinals, now the Orleans Firebirds, in 1966 and hit a home run in his very first at-bat. In his Major League career, Fisk was an 11-time all-star, three-time Silver Slugger, and the AL Rookie of the Year in 1972.
Another former CCBL player who is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame is Jeff Bagwell, who spent the 1987 and 1988 seasons with the Chatham Athletics. In the 1988 season, Bagwell hit .315 with six homers and was named to the East Division All-Star team. In his MLB career, Bagwell hit 449 home runs, was a four-time all-star, and was the NL MVP in 1994.
Frank Thomas, known in baseball circles as the Big Hurt, played for the Orleans Cardinals in 1988, leading them to the league finals, where they would ultimately lose to Wareham. Over the course of his Major League career, Thomas hit .301 with 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs. He was a five-time all-star, a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and a two-time American League MVP during his 18-years in the big leagues.
Thurman Munson had one of the best seasons in the history of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 1967, when he hit .420 and was named the league's MVP. That season, he would lead Chatham Town Team to the league championship, before winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1970 and being named AL MVP in 1976. He was also a seven-time all-star. Munson probably would have been selected to the MLB Hall of Fame if his career had not been cut short by a tragic plane crash that took his life in 1979.
Former Cape Cod League players still active with MLB teams include all-stars like Evan Longoria, Chris Sale, Aaron Judge, Ryan Braun, and Kris Bryant. The chance to see players who will go on to great things like these individuals is reason enough to head out to the ballpark once you move to Cape Cod.
There are currently ten teams in the CCBL, each of which has its own home field. The league is broken down into two divisions, the East and West, with the winner of each division facing off in the championship series.
The Bourne Braves play at Doran Park, which is also used by Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School. Lights were added to the park in 2008, allowing the team to play night games. The Braves last won a league championship in 2009.
Lowell Park is home to the Cotuit Kettleers, who last won a championship in 2013. The park is surrounded by layers upon layers of thick trees, making it one of the more scenic places to catch a ball game on Cape Cod.
The Falmouth Commodores have the league's longest championship drought, having not won a title since 1980. They currently play at the Arnie Allen Diamond, which it shares with Falmouth High School as part of Guv Fuller Field. The diamond is in downtown Falmouth, making it very convenient to access.
The Hyannis Harbor Hawks play their games at McKeon Park, right beside Pope John Paul II High School. The field is known for its Sky Box, which has a baseball museum inside and can host large groups for games. Their last championship was in 1991.
Clem Spillane Field is where the Wareham Gatemen play their games. The field is at Wareham High School and is the only home field in the league that is off Cape Cod.
The defending league champion Brewster Whitecaps play at Stony Brook Field. The field is part of Stony Brook Elementary School and can hold as many as 4,000 people for games. The Whitecaps have been part of the league since 1988 and 2017 marked their second league title.
The Chatham Anglers play their home games at Veteran's Field, as they have done since the field was opened in 1923. Ordinarily, Veterans Field holds about 2,000 fans, although it can be expanded to 8,500 when taking informal seating into consideration. The team was featured in the 2001 film ‘Summer Catch’, starring Freddy Prinze Jr., and last won a championship in 1998.
Whitehouse Field is where the Harwich Mariners call home. The field is part of the Monomoy Regional High School campus, and the team has been part of the league since 1930, last winning a championship in 2011.
The Orleans Firebirds spend their summers playing at Eldredge Park, which is 104 years old and at 434 feet, has the deepest center field in the league. The park is known for being fan friendly because there is a hill up the first base line where spectators can sit and enjoy the games.
The Yarmouth–Dennis Red Sox play their games in South Yarmouth at Red Wilson Field. The team has won seven championships since 2004, by far the most in that time period, including three in a row between 2014 and 2016.
Part of Cape Cod's Culture
Make sure you get out to some games after you buy your Cape Cod real estate because it’s a near certainty that you’ll witness the formative stages of numerous Major League careers and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a future Hall of Fame talent right here on the Cape.
You could even sign up as a host for these players, as teams are always looking for locals to board ballplayers for a couple of months in the summer and your new Cape Cod home could be the perfect place.
There’s nothing more American than heading to the ballpark on a warm summer’s evening and catching a baseball game, and this is the exact lifestyle that Cape Cod has to offer its permanent residents.