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It’s been 70 great years for the Cotuit Kettleers

It’s been 70 great years for the Cotuit Kettleers, Annual 2017 Cape Cod Life | capecodlife.com

Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies played for the Kettleers in 1999.

Today, Salmon lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife and four children. He films TV broadcasts with the Angels—now called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—and he’s the head coach of a high school baseball team. Since 1988, Salmon has never been back to the Cape. With all the traveling teams do during the season, he says getting on another plane in the off-season was always low on the priority list, but he and his wife do want to make the trip. “It’s on our bucket list.”

Like many players of his era, Salmon worked during his Cape League summer; he made sandwiches and packed ice at a grocery store in Barnstable. Like all Cape League players, he also lived with a host family. For many, this particular aspect of the Cape League, where players live with local families during the season, is very special.

Ward and Renee Dunning of Cotuit hosted several players over the years, eventually retiring from the role in 1997. “We’re the old timers, that’s for sure,” Renee says. “We’ve been with the organization for 30 years, maybe. We stayed involved because of the people. It became family to us. Our kids grew up with the Kettleers, and now our grandkids are going to the field.”

Why make all this effort? “Because this is my community,” Renee says, “and it’s such an integral part of Cape Cod. It’s exciting to see these boys come here, and be scouted, and see their inspirations and hopes written all over their faces.”

One player who stayed with the Dunnings was Josh Paul, the Cape League’s MVP in 1995. A student at Vanderbilt, Paul went on to play several years in the majors, and was inducted into the Cape League Hall of Fame in 2006. During the ceremony at the Chatham Bars Inn, Ward Dunning had the honor of introducing him.

“We have always been happy to be involved,” Ward says of his family’s role. “It was nice to give back to someone and help them get a start in their careers.” He says the experience was also beneficial for his children. “Our kids were 12 and 10 when we first started hosting players, and all of a sudden they would have an instant big brother.” The family attended most of the team’s games those years, and when there was free time they brought the players for dinner, or on trips to Sandy Neck Beach.

What about feeding the players? “Every house parent does it a little differently, and each of the teams do it a little differently,” Renee says, but generally the host parents provide the players—all in their late teens or early 20s—three meals a day. Looking back, Renee can visualize boxes of cereal being “inhaled,” and piles of bread and deli meats vanishing in a cloud of dust.

In Marstons Mills, the Tenaglia family has hosted 14 players, and Ann Marie Tenaglia says it’s been an enjoyable ride for her entire family. “I think the friendships, both near and far, are the absolute best part of our Kettleer experience,” she says. “We’ve met people from every corner of America, and we’ve met amazing people in our own Cape Cod backyard. These are lifelong friendships.”

One individual who has observed the Kettleers’ success from the outside is Chuck Sturtevant, president of the Cape League. “Cotuit has always been one of the strongest leaders in the western division,” Sturtevant says, “and their fan base over the years is phenomenal.” Prior to his current role, Sturtevant was the longtime general manager of the Falmouth Commodores, and Cotuit was the competition.



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