For the average Massachusetts resident, summer generally means at least one visit to Cape Cod.
For one current member of the Orleans Firebirds and a Medford, MA native, it also meant a visit to a family summer house in Falmouth and trips to Commodore games. That is the story of Orleans first basemen/DH Ben Waldrip, who leads the league in home runs and earlier this season was named Coca Cola Player of the Week in the Cape League.
Waldrip, better known as Big Ben by teammates, represents Jacksonville State his first year playing in the Cape League. Before playing for the Gamecocks, Waldrip was a Massachusetts kid with a dream. Born to Dave and Juanita Waldrip, baseball has played an intricate part in his life since day one. Ben’s father was a baseball player at Central Arkansas and of course, there was that family summer house in Falmouth.
“I can remember coming down here in the summer time and going to Falmouth games, which was my earliest memories of baseball on Cape Cod,” said Waldrip. From those experiences, he had a dream to play on the Cape and in order to achieve it, he knew it would take time and effort.
Waldrip attended Medford High School and was named MVP his senior year, posting an average over .400 in the Greater Boston League, which was a wood bat league. Leadership was a quality for Waldrip as he was named team captain both his junior and senior year. He was an all-star and named Male Athlete of the Year his senior year. He also played football and basketball in high school.
Before becoming a Gamecock, Waldrip took his talents to the junior college level and played at Cypress College in California. He also played two years in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. He was named to the NECBL All- Star team in 2009 and led the league in several categories. This past season for Jacksonville State, he compiled a 344 batting average with a team-leading 10 home runs and 46 RBIs and helped guide the team to a 36-23 record.
He has continued his strong year at the plate this summer and is one of the most feared batters on the Cape, currently leading the league with six home runs.
“It feels great (hitting a home run) and its one of the best feelings in the world,” said Waldrip. “I have been able to get pitches to jump on early and it’s helped contribute to my team’s success.”