8 August 2004
The grin on Roddy Ames’ face told the whole story. This is what it looks like when a dream comes true.
Growing up in Cotuit, Roddy used to think about it every day. He thought about it every time he rummaged around Lowell Park as a youngster. It crossed his mind every summer he played in the Kettleers’ youth baseball clinics. Every pitch he caught as the team’s 16-year-old bullpen catcher made him think about it even more. All Roddy Ames dreamt of being was a Cape Cod League baseball player.
On Sunday afternoon at Hyannis’ McKeon Field, the dream became a reality.
Kettleer fans watched the big kid with the blazing orange hair grow up with the Cape League, under the bleachers, atop a dirt pile and through the sprinklers. On Sunday, they watched their homegrown son take one more step in his life with the Cape League, this time on the field, with Cotuit stitched across his No. 40 jersey.
“I’m not going to downplay it at all,” Ames said after his first official game with the Kettleers. “This is probably the best day of my entire life.”
With his ball club in the thick of pennant race and marred by injury, Cotuit general manager Bruce Murphy needed to make a move and add a player for the final days of the regular season. On Thursday morning, Murphy made his move.
The phone rang in the Cotuit home of Rodney and Nancy Ames at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Roddy, their son, wasn’t awakened by the noise, so Rodney had to wake him up himself. He told his son that Bruce Murphy just called and wanted him to play out the final four games with the Kettleers.
Roddy is a star for the Colby College ball club and had been an impact player for the Sandwich Braves of the Cranberry League earlier this summer, but this was the Cape League. Roddy couldn’t waste any more time sleeping.
“I was so excited, I jumped right out of bed, went to Bruce Murphy’s house and signed all the papers,” he said. “I was ready to go.”
Roddy was beaming when Murphy handed him his own Kettleer jersey and a couple new wood bats. He was thrilled just to be a part of the team for his first three days as a Cape Leaguer, watching from the dugout like he used to watch from the bleachers or the bullpen as a kid.
“I told him he had the best seat in the house, watching the game from the bench with the guys,” Murphy said.
On that fourth day, though – the last day of the Cotuit season – Roddy went from glad-to-be-here local boy to first baseman.
In the sixth inning of the Kettleers’ biggest game of the season, starting first baseman Nathan Emrick was hit in the hand by a pitch during a bunt attempt. Emrick finished the at-bat and two more half innings, but to begin the seventh, manager Mike Roberts had to remove Emrick from the lineup.
Enter the hometown kid.
“A lot of things were going through my head,” Ames said. “I was so nervous. I went down to warm up and I couldn’t even throw because my arm was shaking so much.”
The trembling wore off enough for Ames to record three putouts in the inning, but the nerves were not gone for good. He’d just played a half inning of baseball for the Cotuit Kettleers – the team that was as much a part of summer as the beach or strawberry ice cream – but he didn’t have time to enjoy it.
Rather, he strapped on a pair of batting gloves and picked up a piece of lumber. Roddy Ames was set to lead off the inning.
“I was a nervous wreck,” Roddy’s dad said after the game. “My wife was a nervous wreck, too.”
“I was trying not to think at all, because I knew if I was thinking that I was going to get nervous,” he said. “I was just trying to see a fastball and hit it.”
He didn’t get the fastball he was looking for. Fortunately, though, he got a curveball and ripped it through the hole between the Hyannis third baseman and shortstop.
Rounding first base, the feeling still hadn’t quite sunken in for Ames. A half hour after the game’s final out, it still wasn’t completely a reality.
“That was just a great moment for me,” he said. “That’s about as close to euphoria as I’ve ever been.”
The emotions and excitement had to be put on hold, though. With a spot in the playoffs on the line, the Kettleers and Mets were knotted at four entering the 10th inning. Roddy’s day at the plate was not over.
Leading off the tenth, Roddy fought an inside pitch off his hands and blooped it just over the second baseman’s outstretched arms and into right field. This Cape League hitting isn’t so hard. Roddy Ames was 2 for 2.
The Kettleers couldn’t advance Ames past second base, though, and the Mets sealed the ballgame with a base hit to left in the bottom half of the inning to take the game and the final playoff spot.
As a competitive athlete, Ames was disappointed after the game that his team didn’t come out on top. Still, it was hard for him to hold in a smile.
Hard for Bruce Murphy, too.
“We’ve known him since he was growing up, four or five years old. He was always around the ballpark, his parents have always been around the ballpark,” Murphy said. “It was exciting having Roddy here and it’s always great to have a local player on the team.”
Filled with pride, Rodney and Nancy joined the other Cotuit parents on the field after the game.
“It’s a major thrill for us,” Rodney said. “When you live in Cotuit, your whole life is the Kettleers, or at least it was for us. So this is like a dream come true.”
After the last ray of sunshine had set over the outfield wall at McKeon Field, Roddy Ames was still on the first baseline, posing for pictures, signing autographs, even handing out a pair of old batting gloves to a young Kettleer fan.
Roddy used to be that young Kettleer fan. The youngster will probably go home and put those big batting gloves on his little hands and dream about one day taking the field as a Cape Cod League baseball player.
That kid should know that anything’s possible. Sometimes dreams do come true. A quick look at Roddy Ames’ face tells the whole story. - By T.J. Lasita, CCBL Intern, TJLasita@capecodbaseball.org
John Garner, Jr.