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History of the Cape Cod Baseball League: The Sons of Summer

Unlike Brooklyn Dodgers fans, whose connection to their “Boys of Summer” is wistful, baseball fans on Cape Cod have a very vibrant, active relationship with their “summer sons,” the rotating cast of young men who compete in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) every year.

“My wife, Stacee, calls the players who stay with us our ‘summer sons,’” says Chris Rogers, a local fireman/EMT and Cotuit native who has housed players for the past several years. “The players become like your own kids for the summer. You get excited and stressed for them during games.

“Stacee often tears up when the players go home at the end of the season,” adds Rogers, a righty who pitched for Stetson University and struck out future Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis on three straight pitches while throwing for the Cotuit Kettleers during the 2000 season. “Even though it’s tough to see the kids leave, we thoroughly enjoy being a host family. It’s become a nice lifestyle for us.” 

For generations, baseball has been woven into the fabric of Cape Cod summer life, and the CCBL has been a major part of this tapestry since 1923, when the league was formally founded. Even though the CCBL’s reputation extends well beyond the peninsula, the history of the “Cape League”—as it’s more commonly known to fans and participants—is a little less well known.

A Chowder-Like Mix

The Cape League’s history, honestly, is a chowder-like mix of newspaper box scores, facts and lore, which only adds to its aura. Some answers are easier to come by than others. For example: 

Q: Did legendary Detroit Tigers catcher Mickey Cochrane really play in the Cape League? 

A: According to Cape Cod historian James. H. Ellis, the Cochrane –Cape League connection is virtually non-existent. A Bridgewater native, Cochrane may have played under an assumed name for a Middleboro club that played teams on the Cape. Ellis felt that this may be the missing Cochrane-Cape League link. 

Q: Even though Pirates’ Hall of Fame third baseman Harold “Pie” Traynor did play for teams in Falmouth and Oak Bluffs, did he play in the Cape League? 

A: Technically, this should be a “no” because Traynor played in 1919, before the league organized four years later. But let’s not split hairs. Traynor played amateur baseball on Cape Cod—in Falmouth for one of the league’s founding towns—and went on to become one of the greatest third basemen in big-league history.  

Q: Did Chatham Harbor’s infamous fog actually ruin a no-hit bid for current Cardinals’ relief pitcher Andrew Miller?  

A: Yes. In 2004, the six-foot, seven-inch lefty, who pitched for the University of North Carolina, was working on a no-hitter for the Chatham A’s, with all 12 outs coming via the K (strikeout). The fog rolled in over Veterans Field that night and never left. Because the game was called after four innings, short of the required five to be considered an official outing, the game officially never happened.  

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