Cape League Tryouts set for Saturday in Wareham
WAREHAM - Approximately 90 players from colleges all around the country get a chance to showcase their talent at the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Frank Finn Invitational Tryouts Saturday (June 6)—and a lucky few will be offered roster spots for the 2009 season.
The invitation-only tryouts, held at Spillane Field in Wareham, start at 9:30 a.m., with registration, drills, and three small scrimmages that begin at 11:30. Scouts and coaches from each of the 10 CCBL teams will be there looking for players to fill empty roster slots, or to become temporary players to take the place of Team USA invitees or College World Series competitors. Each Cape team is allowed 30 roster spots at the start of the season.
Players invited to this year’s tryouts are recommended by their college coaches based on talent, performance and personality, as Cape League general managers and field managers try to build team chemistry along with quality.
Tryout organizer and administrator Sue Pina, assistant GM for Cotuit’s Kettleers, sends out approximately 200 letters to college coaches looking for recommendations in late March. This year, 60 position players and 30 pitchers have been invited and there are sure to be some standout performances.
Past players invited to the tryouts have gone on to play for a few weeks as temporary players or been signed full season contracts. At the tryouts a few years ago, hurler Charlie Furbush (St. Joseph’s-ME) and outfielder Justin Maxwell (Maryland) wowed GM’s and managers alike.
When Furbush, a left-handed pitcher from St. Joe’s in North Windham, Maine, came up to the mound, he recorded the trifecta by striking out three batters on nine pitches, and was promptly signed by the Hyannis Mets. He went on to pitch a no-hitter the following season with the Mets, transferred to LSU and was later drafted and signed by the Detroit Tigers.
Maxwell was signed by Bourne, having illustrated talent all around on the field. He was signed by Cotuit the following year, made it to the major leagues and is playing for the Washington Nationals these days.
With prime examples like Furbush and Maxwell, players are hopeful for a chance to shine in front of the Cape League managers. The CCBL currently has over 200 alumni players in the majors.
Even players not signed by the end of the tryout still have a chance. Because of fluctuating roster sizes due to injuries, Team USA invites, etc, there’s always a chance a player could be called back. As Pina says, “I always tell the players, if you leave that day without a contract, that doesn’t mean that you won’t receive a call later on; as I tell them, it’s all about being ready when opportunity knocks.”
Local two-way player Matt Costello (Valdosta) as been invited to the tryout again this year; the pitcher/DH, who graduated from Barnstable High School in 2005, has received temporary roster slots over the past two years with Cotuit and Bourne and played in the Cape Cod Baseball League vs. Military All-Star game, this year slotted for June 7th and 8th. He finished as one of the top hitters in NCAA Division II this season.
Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern (email@example.com)
ABOUT THE CAPE LEAGUE
The Cape Cod Baseball League can trace its roots to July 4, 1885, when teams from Barnstable and Sandwich met in a “base ball” game at Sandwich. The league has adopted that date as its birthday and thus will be starting yet another season when play begins June 11. Starting with individual town teams, the CCBL reorganized in 1923 with teams in Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis and Osterville and in 1963 it became sanctioned by the NCAA. It is now the premier collegiate baseball summer league in the country.
More than 1,000 alumni are now performing at all levels of professional baseball and 200-plus former Cape Leaguers populate major league rosters, including Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (Harwich 2005), slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira (Orleans 1999), AL Comeback Player of the Year Carlos Pena (Harwich 1996/Wareham 1997) former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito (Wareham 1997 & 1998), former AL MVP Frank Thomas (Orleans 1988), former AL batting champion Nomar Garciaparra (Orleans 1993) and former NL Fireman of the Year Billy Wagner (Brewster 1992). Current big league managers include Cleveland’s Eric Wedge (Yarmouth-Dennis 1988) and the New York Yankees’ Joe Giardi (Cotuit 1984).
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. congressman, United Nations ambassador, secretary of the Department of Energy and, more recently, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, played for Cotuit and Harwich in the late 1960s.
The list of Cape League alumni who played major league baseball now totals 758 names, including Baseball Hall of Famers Harold "Pie" Traynor (Falmouth 1919) and Carlton Fisk (Orleans 1966), former New York Yankee greats Red Rolfe (Orleans 1930) and Thurman Munson (Chatham 1967), Major League managers Bobby Valentine (Yarmouth 1967) and Buck Showalter (Hyannis 1976), Cy Young Award winners Steve Stone (Chatham 1968) and Mike Flanagan (Falmouth 1972), Firemen-of-the-Year Wayne Granger (Sagamore 1962) and Jeff Reardon (Cotuit 1974-76), Major League shortstop and scout Lennie Merullo (Barnstable 1935), slugging first baseman Jeff Bagwell (Chatham 1987 & 1988) and Craig Biggio (Y-D 1986), the only former Cape Leaguer to amass more 3,000 hits in the major leagues.
John Garner, Jr.
Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting
Web Editor & Special Projects Coordinator