Everything good about baseball instantly fell into place when approaching Doran Field in Bourne, Mass., to watch a Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) game that paired the Bourne Braves against the Brewster Whitecaps.
It was almost like being stuck in time: players motived and always hustling, families turning out in droves to relentlessly cheer on America’s Favorite Pastime, the local announcer enthusiastically reading players names while plugging local businesses, and the unmistakable aromas of burgers and dogs permeating the stillness of the summer evening air over this perfectly-manicured small town field. Fans sat in the limited-seating stands, in lawn chairs, on blankets and at picnic tables — most close enough to the action to truly feel integrated with the game and the intimate feeling of the park.
Further proof that not all timeless slices of Americana have seen their day, the CCBL, in all its low-key traditional glory, indeed celebrates the perfect symmetry of the game to the max while serving as a wonderful Cape Cod summer family-oriented destination. The experience makes you feel like a kid again, no matter what age.
The Cape Cod Baseball League not only remains a true baseball bargain with free admission but this nonprofit baseball organization features some of the best collegiate players in the country. With 10 teams competing against each other (with eight making the playoffs!) at some beautiful Cape Cod baseball stadiums, the talent pool is deep and constantly showing at all nine positions. You might see the word “amateur,” used to describe the CCBL, but that description seemed absent from the game we watched on this particular evening.
“From a baseball perspective, the quality of play is superior,” said Charlie Campbell, 47, of Walpole, Mass., a college baseball umpire who has worked many CCBL baseball games. “You are seeing the best of the best college players here.”
The list runs deep, dating back to the League’s inception in 1885. Current Major League Baseball players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Mark Texeira, Kevin Youkilis and Todd Helton have played in the Cape Cod Baseball League, as well as former stars Pie Traynor, Red Rolfe, Thurman Munson, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio. In fact, more than 975 former Cape Cod Baseball League players, at this writing, have made it to the major leagues!
“Everyone down here has the potential,” said Campbell. “I didn’t think about Posey when he was playing here, but remember him being a good kid.”
As a family attraction, you can feel good about attending a CCBL game with very low probability of players acting inappropriately in front of the fans.
“Players are on their best behavior,” said Campbell, “They are being watched by scouts and teams. I’ve only
had three ejections (in eight years) and only one was a player.”
Campbell added, “I love the atmosphere at each venue. It’s such a fun place to work, so festive, family-oriented and with no admission.”
Additionally, the players’ talent levels lead to some amazing moments, sometimes matching the quality of what you see in Major League Baseball. As Bourne held an 8-6 lead into the ninth and with two Whitecaps runners on base, Cole Lankford (Texas A&M) delivered a base hit to cut the lead to one. With Nick Lynch (California-Davis) running around third attempting to score the tying run, Jeff Gardner (Louisville) threw a Dwight Evans-like strike from mid-left field to nail the runner, thus ending the game in truly exciting fashion. Players from Bourne ran like maniacs to each other, cheering (the fans were just as spirited), jumping up and down, and hugging each other like they had just won the World Series. Afterwards, the Bourne players congregated with fans, signing autographs, throwing frisbees, munching on cupcakes, having soft drinks, and enjoying the special moment of a victory with their own family and friends.
The purity of the game was fully realized at this moment, and restored that magical feeling for many of us that have been longing for the good old days of baseball — that is, when the simple pleasures outweighed the outrageous salaries, whining, agent intimidation, and other modern day maladies that have impeded our innate, unconditional love for America’s Favorite Pastime. In this sense, the CCBL certainly has all the bases covered when it comes to enjoying the grand, glorious game of baseball and we can hardly wait to attend more games!
Editor’s note: For more information on this great summer amateur baseball league, we suggest you log onto the Cape Cod Baseball League Web Site. Play ball!
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