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2008 Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Class Announced

for immediate release: 8 Jun, 2008

2008 Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame Class Announced
Ceremony Set for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at Chatham Bars Inn

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. (June 8) – Committee chair and league commissioner Paul Galop today announced the election of eight former players and administrators to membership in the 8th annual Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame class, whose induction ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008, at the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Mass.

     This year’s class includes current Major League players Ben Sheets, a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, and hard-hitting outfielder Matt Murton of the Chicago Cubs, along with former Boston Red Sox and Harvard University first baseman Mike Stenhouse.

     Other inductees include Chatham A’s bullpen ace Derrick DePriest, Cotuit All-Star slugger Bob Hansen, versatile and durable Falmouth performer Roche Pires, Cotuit flame-throwing reliever Jeff Innis and former Cape League deputy commissioner and president Robert A. McNeece of Chatham.

     Working in conjunction with the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cape League will have its Hall of Fame re-located to the John F. Kennedy Museum on Main Street in Hyannis. The CCBL Hall of Fame exhibit was first created in 2003 at Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich.
This year’s Hall of Fame class: 

Matt Murton, Wareham outfielder
     During his two-year career with Wareham, the Georgia Tech slugger led the Gatemen to two CCBL championships in 2001 and ’02. In ’01, Murton was named League MVP by leading the league in RBI (28), ranking second in batting average (.324) and compiling a perfect 19-for-19 stolen base record. He was rated as CCBL No. 3 Pro Prospect by Baseball America. In 2002, he hit .400 (22-55) with eight RBI and a .545 slugging percentage in 16 games for the Gatemen after breaking his hand at Team USA tryouts. Later that summer, he won the CCBL All-Star Game home-run hitting contest and was again ranked No. 33 among CCBL pro prospects by Baseball America. In the 2003, first-year player draft, he was selected in the first round (32nd overall) by the Boston Red Sox, and is currently in his fourth season with the Chicago Cubs, where he has compiled a .295 lifetime batting average with 28 home runs and 102 RBI. 

Ben Sheets, Wareham/Orleans pitcher 
     In his first season in 1998, the Northeast Louisiana right-hander posted a 4-1 record with the Wareham Gatemen. In 68 innings pitched, he struck out 66 batters with a 2.51 ERA. Sheets was named a CCBL mid-season All-Star and to the All-League team in 1998 and was named a Baseball America Summer League All-Star. He returned in 1999 with the Orleans Cardinals and posted a 1-0 record with a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings with 17 strikeouts. Ben was the Brewers’ first-round draft pick in 1999 and is in his eighth season pitching for Milwaukee, posting a 79-75 career record with a 3.78 ERA and 1,097 K’s. With a fast ball clocked at 96-98 MPH, Sheets struck out 18 batters in a 2004 game against the Atlanta Braves. Ben won the gold medal game in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with a complete game 3-hit 4-0 shutout over Cuba. This is the only gold medal the USA has won in baseball.

Mike Stenhouse, Chatham first baseman/outfielder/DH
     The Harvard southpaw slugger played three seasons in the Cape League (1977-79 with the Chatham A’s). Stenhouse led Chatham to the CCBL playoffs in each of the three years he played. He hit six home runs and batted .426 in 13 games in 1978, but his season was cut short due to an injury. In 1979, Mike hit .329 with seven home runs and 34 RBI and was named to the All-Star Team and first baseman on the All-League team. He was a two-time All-Ivy Leaguer at Harvard and hit .475 as a freshman in 1977, second-best in the NCAA. Mike was drafted in the first round in 1979 with the 26th pick by the Oakland A’s. In 1980 he was taken by the Montreal Expos in the first round of the January secondary phase. Stenhouse played for the Expos, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox. With the Twins in 1985, he had career highs in games played (81), at-bats (179), runs (23), hits (40), home runs (5), RBI (21), stolen bases (1), walks (29) and batting average (.223). He is the son of former MLB pitcher Dave Stenhouse.

Bob Hansen, Cotuit/Orleans first baseman/outfielder
     The University of Massachusetts first baseman/outfielder played four years (Cotuit 1966-1968 and Orleans 1969) in the Cape League and was an All-Star the final three years, starting each game. In 1969, he finished third in batting at .385 and led the league with 38 RBI and a .680 slugging percentage. He also placed second in home runs (7) and doubles (9). He was voted to the 1969 All-League Team at first base. Hansen led the league with six triples in 1967 and was second in runs (28) and hits (41), and tied for fourth in RBI (23). For his career, he is in the top five in triples (11, 2nd), total bases (225, 3rd), RBI (92, 3rd) and hits (134, 5th). His 16 home runs and 21 doubles place him in the top 20 all-time. He was voted to the 1960’s All-Decade team. He was the 21st draft pick of the expansion Seattle Pilots (AL) in 1969 and played two seasons (1974 and 1976) with the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .242 with two homers and 13 RBI in 82 games.

Jeff Innis, Cotuit relief pitcher
     The Illinois right-hander was one of the first true closers in the Cape League. He led the league in saves and games in 1981 and 1982 and is the only pitcher to accomplish that feat. Innis finished first in ERA in 1981(2.34) and was second in 1982 (1.96), finishing with a career ERA of 2.15 during the aluminum bat era. He established league records for games (30 in 1982), saves (8 in 1981), most innings pitched by a relief pitcher (50.2 in 1982) and strikeouts by a relief pitcher (54 in 1981 and again in 1982). Among relief pitchers, he is first in career strikeouts (108), second in career innings pitched (100.2), third in relief appearances (53) and tied for fifth in saves (14). He was the career saves leader for 15 seasons. Cotuit won the league championship in 1981 as Innis went 1-1 with a save in four appearances in the playoffs. He was voted to the All-League Team both seasons and was also selected to the 1980’s All-Decade Team. Innis played seven seasons with the New York Mets from 1987-1993, compiling a 10-20 record with a 3.05 ERA. 

Derrick DePriest, Chatham relief pitcher
     The North Carolina Tarheel set a Cape League record with 15 saves for Chatham in 1999. He posted a perfect 0.00 ERA and struck out 19 in 22.2 innings pitched. He appeared in the All-Star Game, working one inning and striking out one batter, and was named to the All-League Team as well. DePriest was the recipient of the Russ Ford Award as Outstanding Relief Pitcher. His 22.2 consecutive shutout innings pitched was the second longest such streak of the 1999 season, the eighth best streak in the modern era of the Cape League and the second longest such streak by a relief pitcher. DePriest was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2000 and has been pitching in the minor leagues since then. He played in both the Expos’ and Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league organizations, but was plagued by injuries throughout his career. His best season came in 2007 at Lancaster in the independent Atlantic League, where he saved 20 games, struck out 64 batters in 59.1 innings and compiled a 2.06 ERA. After a brief stint in Mexico, he returned to the Atlantic League in 2008 to pitch for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, a team owned by Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson. 

Robert A. McNeece, Chatham and league administrator
     Bob McNeece was a true pioneer of the Cape Cod Baseball League. In fact, in the early 1960s he was largely responsible for creating the league structure that exists to this day. He served as a Chatham selectmen, held several positions with the Chatham Athletic Association and spent many years as a vocal supporter of baseball on Cape Cod. He used his considerable powers of persuasion to keep Veterans Field in good shape and raise the necessary funds to install its first set of lights. He raised between $10,000 and $15,000 each year to keep a team on the field by extolling the benefits to the community of providing a wholesome, family leisure-time activity. He recognized that even a healthy Chatham team couldn’t survive if its opponent-partners were in trouble. He knew that serious problems threatened the future of the two leagues that were operating in the late 1950s and early ‘60s and was determined to deal with them before it was too late. At that time, the Lower Cape League and the Upper Cape League had very little regard for one another. Their one departure from virtual disdain was to send their respective champions to a Labor Day weekend series which would decide the peninsula title. Even that once-a-year relationship sometimes turned ugly as petty jealousies and personality conflicts put the games in jeopardy. Bob realized that cooperation between these two entities was a necessity if organized baseball were to survive on the Cape, so after the 1962 season, he brought together a group of community leaders and concerned team officials to fashion a plan of action. As chairman of this “organizing committee,” he convinced former foes to become friends and succeeded in effecting the historic merger which began the modern era of baseball on the Cape. As the 1963 season got under way, the two leagues were gone, reorganized into two divisions of a single circuit operating for the first time under the firm hand of a commissioner, Daniel J. Silva. Silva, formerly a highly respected umpire, in turn appointed Bob as one of his two deputy commissioners and the modern era of the Cape Cod Baseball League had begun. From 1972 to 1976, Bob served as league president and he was instrumental in naming Dick Sullivan to the commissioner’s post in the early ‘70s. Bob knew that Sullivan, a respected educator, was a perfect choice for the job and Sullivan in turn relied heavily on Bob’s guidance. “He became my mentor and advisor,” says Sullivan. “He was a very thoughtful and considerate man and he did his homework on league issues and problems. He was quiet, but a strong and influential leader who artfully guided the league’s continued growth. I would meet with Bob at his home several nights a week.” Sullivan remembers McNeece as a self-effacing man who was quick to give credit to others for league successes. “Although slender and soft-spoken, he was a giant of a man who brought the league into the modern era and was most instrumental in its growth and success.” The Cape League annually presents the Robert A. McNeece Award to the player chosen as the Outstanding Pro Prospect.

Roche R. Pires, Falmouth pitcher/first baseman
     Old-timers will tell you that Roche Pires was the best all-around athlete Falmouth ever produced. He played on town baseball, basketball and football teams and excelled at all three sports. He began playing baseball around 1930 in Sunday games with the Waquoit Braves. Soon he was playing seven days a week. He would play the outfield in the Falmouth league, then go over to Mashpee where he would pitch and catch. World War II brought a temporary halt to his baseball career and he served with distinction with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater. But even during that period of turmoil, Roche still managed to play ball. He played basketball in the New Hebrides and Guadalcanal and coached a battalion baseball team on Tinian. When he returned to Falmouth in 1946 at age 27, he wasted no time before joining the Falmouth All-Stars of the Cape Cod League. He pitched two playoff victories over Harwich, leading Falmouth to the 1946 Cape League title after his one-hitter had clinched the Upper Cape crown. His best season may have been 1950 when he authored a no-hit, no-run game against Massachusetts Maritime Academy and one-hit Cotuit to lock up the Upper Cape title. Playing a solid first base when not on the mound, Roche compiled a .362 batting average. As he entered his 40s and 50ss, he retired and un-retired several times. He eventually turned to softball and continued to play well into his 50s. Although his schooling as a youth was limited, Roche was a respected member of the community. He set up the Falmouth Boosters Club and volunteered with the Clipper Quarterback Club, which supported the high school football program, and was active in the Cape Verdean Club. He died in 1983 at the age of 66, leaving his wife, two sons and a daughter.


ABOUT THE CAPE COD BASEBALL LEAGUE

     The Cape League originated in 1885 with individual town teams. It was reorganized into the Cape Cod Baseball League in 1923 with teams in Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis and Osterville and again in 1963, when it began what is known as its “modern era.” Today, the 10-team league, with teams in Chatham, Orleans, Harwich, Brewster, Yarmouth-Dennis, Hyannis, Cotuit, Falmouth, Bourne and Wareham -- is considered by college coaches and Major League scouts to be the premier collegiate summer baseball league in the country.

     A record total of 212 former Cape Leaguers populated major league rosters in 2007, including World Series MVP Mike Lowell (Chatham ’94), AL Comeback Player of the Year Carlos Pena (Harwich ‘96/Wareham ’97) former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito (Wareham ’97 & ’98), former AL MVP Frank Thomas (Orleans ’88), former AL batting champion Nomar Garciaparra (Orleans ’93), former NL Fireman of the Year Billy Wagner (Brewster ‘92), Boston Red Sox captain Jason Varitek (Hyannis ’91 & ’93), Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis (Bourne ’00) and Red Sox rookie phenom Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth’04). Current managers and coaches include new Yankees manager Joe Girardi (Cotuit ’84), Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer (Sagamore ’65), Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell (Hyannis ’82) and 2007 AL Manager-of-the-Year at Cleveland Eric Wedge (Yarmouth-Dennis ’88).

     The list of Cape League alumni totals some 720 names, including those of Baseball Hall of Famer Harold “Pie” Traynor (Falmouth ’19), former New York Yankee greats Red Rolfe (Orleans ’30) and Thurman Munson (Chatham ’67), Major League managers Bobby Valentine (Yarmouth ’67) and Buck Showalter (Hyannis ’76), Cy Young Award winners Steve Stone (Chatham ’68) and Mike Flanagan (Falmouth ’72), Firemen-of-the-Year Wayne Granger (Sagamore ’62) and Jeff Reardon (Cotuit ’74-76) and Major League scout Lennie Merullo (Barnstable ’35).