The Cape Cod Baseball League’s (CCBL) best players squared off in the annual All-Star Game on July 21st, in Orleans, Massachusetts. Eldredge Park, which originally opened in 1913, hosted the 60 of the league’s best players, while 5,293 local fans and tourists enjoyed the day’s festivities under the blazing sun.
Every summer since 1885, hundreds of the country’s top collegiate baseball players descend upon Cape Cod, Massachusetts to take part in the CCBL. They play high level baseball, with the hope of being recognized by Major League scouts. Not only is the atmosphere at the games filled with passionate baseball fans, but there are also great deals on food, where you can buy a hot dog for $3. There are raffles that you can enter, and free t-shirts that are sling-shotted into the crowds. Ten teams are in the league, with an East and West division. During the second half of the season, the best players from each division face off in the All Star Game.
Scott Pickler, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox coach and the field manager of the East Division in the All Star Game, was recently elected to the CCBL Hall of Fame. “It’s quite an honor to be put into this special group of people,” says Pickler. Pickler believes if the team’s chemistry is right then you will find success. “I’ve got some kids that are really good teammates and that’s a big part of it.”
Austin Wells, playing in his first season for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, also catches for the University of Kentucky. In Wells’ opinion, “Scott Pickler is one of the best coaches I’ve played for.”
In the CCBL, players find a host family to stay with throughout the summer. A host family provides food, a bed, and support for the players. Paula Turts, a Cape Cod resident, has been a player host for seven years and this season opened up her home to four players on different teams. “Seeing the kids obtaining their goals and knowing that you’re a little part of it,” is Turts’ main reason she offers her assistance. She also makes it to every game because, she says, “If their family is out of the state, I want them to have somebody rooting for them at those games.”
Even though the CCBL offers a break from NCAA competition, it is still very competitive. Scouts come from all over the country to find the top players that are fit for their teams. Some famous Cape Cod alums are currently starring in Major League Baseball, like Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge. Mike Stauffer, a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, says he looks for “a five-tool player.” He explains, “I want to see if they can field it, throw it, bat it, have power and their running ability.”
The All Star Game events start at 2:00, but fans came early to reserve their spots with towels and chairs. Food trucks and team merchandise lined the streets, keeping the fans occupied until the first pitch at 6:00. “There’s 1,000 people almost every game and screaming and cheering for us,” says Wells. Some of the events during the day include: autographs, home run derby, pre-game ceremony and player introductions. Pickler led the East team to a 6-5 win.
The CCBL runs on fan donations, sponsors, and endless community volunteers. Players give back to their respective communities by running youth baseball clinics. The CCBL has brought amatuer baseball to the next level.