11/24/2023 10:46 AM
Article By: Kaileigh Grieb
To be a part of the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) is magical, but to be recognized for all that has been achieved as a member of the league is even more magical. For six individuals, their hard work and dedication to the CCBL was fully celebrated and they even received a little bit of bling to go along with it.
This past weekend at the Wequassett Inn in Harwich, the CCBL welcomed their 22nd induction class of the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame. The honor of being inducted into the CCBL Hall of Fame goes beyond personal success; it reflects the profound acknowledgment from fellow players, experts, and the league at large. It recognizes each individual's significant and positive impact on the CCBL.
Former Hall of Famer himself, Bob Corradi, knows exactly what it takes to be recognized for greatness around the league. His energy and excitement for the ceremony showed through, and his words rang true on the many thoughts and emotions of the ceremony day.
“To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s just priceless. I was never expecting it, you know. Not being an outstanding player in the league, I never expected it… For these people to work here year-round to make this work, it has to truly be a passion,” Corradi said.
Corradi was inducted into the CCBL Hall of Fame in 2020, after years of hard work and dedication to Massachusetts Maritime Academy as an athletic director and baseball coach. He amplified the importance of the CCBL being an all-volunteer organization and emphasized the fact that without the committee and the volunteers, these games simply would not be what they are.
This induction into the Hall of Fame is a symbolic gesture that acknowledges and commemorates each one of these individual's outstanding achievements, solidifying their place in CCBL history and collective memory during their time with the league.
Jim Higgins - League Executive
Described as having a larger-than-life personality, Jim Higgins started as a volunteer for the CCBL as an official scorer in the 1970s. His passion for the league caught the attention of league officials and he soon gained the titles of league publicist and Senior Vice President. He also sat on the Finance, Broadcasting, Safety, and Bylaws committees, and was a founding member of the CCBL Hall of Fame.
On top of those many accomplishments, Higgins was seen as one of the masterminds behind the expansion of the CCBL from eight teams to 10, with Bourne and Brewster joining the league in 1988, changing the course of the league forever. So, it was telling that in his 40 years as a part of the league, Higgins meant everything to those who knew the ins and outs of the CCBL.
Higgins passed away in March of this year, leaving behind a long-lasting Cape League legacy. On behalf of Higgins, his two children: Brian and Courtney accepted the Hall of Fame nomination alongside their mother, Colleen.
His younger brother, Bill Higgins, presented the nomination to his family. Being a sports writer and columnist for the Cape Cod Times, he showed how the love for baseball runs deep in the Higgins family.
“He loved the Cape League. He wasn’t in it for recognition, he wasn’t in it for accolades, he was in it because he cared and he was passionate and he was committed to the many causes he was involved in,” said Bill on behalf of his brother. “The Cape League is better today because of the many contributions that he made. Jim (Higgins) was a Hall of Famer to all of those who knew him, and now he's your Hall of Famer.”
Higgins' son, Brian, also spoke on his behalf. He encapsulated what this league and the players truly mean to people like Brain, who watched them play in front of his father growing up.
“Growing up on Cape Cod, the opportunity to be around folks like the players here and the players that come before you, but also all of the volunteers, executives, and everyone else, it just opened my eyes to what was possible,” Brian said.
Brian made a point to even thank the former players in the banquet hall and emphasized that what they accomplish in the summer goes much deeper than what they can even fathom.
With a smile, Brian said, “You know when you’re a six or eight-year-old kid growing up in this small part of the world, to see these giants, it just opens your eyes that there's a whole world out there and you can get there from Cape Cod. The magic that you all put on every day in the summer for kids like us that grow up here… it changed my life and it changed so many kids' lives. Don’t ever lose sight of the magic that the Cape League creates for all those young kids.”
That magic will never dim for the Higgins family and many other families who will enjoy the CCBL for years to come, especially on behalf of Higgins work family at RogersGray who established a grant to name the new theater in the CCBL Hall of Fame Museum in his name.
Max Pentecost - Bourne Braves
The Bourne Braves have had themselves quite a year. Not only did they win back-to-back championships, as well as seeing numerous of their players both past and present get drafted, but they also witnessed one of their players get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Pentecost represented the Braves in the 22nd induction ceremony, amplifying skills and talent that lead from Doran Park.
Joining the Braves roster in the summer of 2013, Pentecost came into the CCBL with quite the reputation back home at Kennesaw State University. Having won the Buster Posey Award, which recognizes the best catcher across college baseball, everyone knew that little to nothing would fly past Pentecost.
“That summer coming into it, I knew it was going to be quite a position I would never be in. Being around that quality of talent every day, I knew I would have to make some adjustments, but I just wanted to enjoy it. So, I made myself enjoy it and not put too much pressure on myself,” Pentecost reflected.
Pentecost made a point that the franchises pride themselves on being more than just a franchise, they create a family.
Mary Henderson - Harwich Mariners & League Executive
The CCBL understands that the locals in the community serve important roles in running this ship, this understanding reaches all corners of Whitehouse Field in Harwich with President Mary Henderson.
Henderson first got involved with the Mariners in 1982, starting out as a host family at her son's request, even hosting CCBL Hall of Famers Casey Close, Scott Kamieniecki and Pat Pacillo.
In 1984, her responsibilities grew and she was soon named President of the Harwich Athletic Association which she has held for the past 40 years. During her time with the Mariners, she has seen the franchise win CCBL Championships in 1983, 1987, 2008, and 2011.
Close friend and field manager for the Mariners, Steve Englert, presented Henderson in her induction. Anglert brought the house down recalling all the ups and downs that the pair have gone through together and emphasized how she is the heart and soul of the Mariners franchise.
“Often people ask me, who is your all-time Harwich Mariner? And I say it's Henderson. Rickey Henderson? No, not that Rickey Henderson. I say, this Henderson has never put on a uniform. She's never had an at bat. She has never recorded an out,” laughed Englert.
“But she's the backbone. She's the face of the organization and you know, scouts always noticed that, too. “Mary never stops!” and I say, “Yeah!”. So, they always asked me about players and you know, the word that you want to attach to your name when you get evaluated is grinder. She is the ultimate grinder,” emphasized Englert.
“In fact, I'm going to start using that next time a scout calls me and says, “Hey, what do you got on your shortstop?” A Henderson. Absolutely a first rounder, open up on the checkbooks, never seen anything like that.”
Aside from her Hall of Fame induction, Henderson was recognized with the Dick Sullivan Executive of the Year Award in 2019 for all of her hard work overseeing all aspects of the Mariners organization, including interns, concessions, and the team’s post-game meals.
She even grinded, as Anglert would say, this past season to host the CCBL All-Star Game at Whitehouse Field. No matter what job is thrown her way, no issue is too big or too small for Henderson to tackle head on, making her induction a clear and obvious decision.
Glenn Davis - Chatham Anglers
The Chatham A’s have always welcomed a roster of larger than life players, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1980 that Glenn Davis made his presence known.
When asked to reflect on his time with the league, Davis said, “I was a young kid, somewhat naive to the game of baseball, fresh out of high school. I went to the University of Georgia to play and little did I know that during that summer that I would get invited to play in the Cape Cod League. Well, I had no clue where I was going, but I needed it. I love the game, I wanted to play, and I needed a job. So, I had no place to go, I had no home to go to and so it was an easy decision for me.”
Well the decision for Davis paid off, with him leading the Anglers that summer to a first-place regular season finish, before losing in the finals to Falmouth. Finishing second in the league in batting average, hitting .377, Davis was also second in numerous other league categories including; runs (45), hits (61), HRs (10), and RBI (44). Davis was selected as the starting designated hitter for the Cape Cod Baseball All-Stars, as well as being named an All-League outfielder at the end of the season.
Davis only went up from there, spending 10 seasons in MLB, playing for the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. He was named an MLB All-Star in both 1986 and 1989, in 1986 he was named the Silver Slugger Award winner at first base, and finished second in NL MVP voting.
All of these accomplishments wouldn't have been possible without the support and pressure that the CCBL offered to Davis and the 1980 Chatham Anglers. Realling his time with the CCBL, Davis couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear when explaining how truly incredible the league can be for young players like himself with nowhere else to turn.
“It was a great summer vacation, so to speak, a true one. When we started, we started out from Athens and we came straight up all the way we did not stop. We drove through the night. We got here early in the morning as the sun was coming up and that was incredible, up I-95. In a jeep and we took the top down. I've got so many memories,” laughed Davis.
Energy from Davis recalling his fondest memories as an Angler showed that stats and recognition don’t define how incredible a simple summer on Cape Cod can be for players and fans alike. There is so much meaning and history behind each and every one of these inductees' love for the game, and at one point or another, the CCBL ties into that.
Mitchell Jordan - Orleans Firebirds
It’s no surprise that the Orleans Firebirds are infamous for their pitching. It seems as though Eldredge Park is known for producing top-quality pitchers on the mound, including a righty from Stetson University, Mitchell Jordan. The 2015 summer in Orleans put Jordan on the map.
Ending the summer with a 0.21 ERA, Jordan tied for the record with CCBL Hall of Famer Eric Milton (Falmouth, 1996). In eight games started, he had a perfect 6-0 record, finishing the season with 46 strikeouts, walking just six batters over 43 innings, and was named CCBL Pitcher of the Week twice during the summer. Jordan was also named to the All-League team and ended his summer season by being handed the BFC Whitehouse Outstanding Pitcher Award.
“It was the best summer of my life. It’s something I’ve been telling people, that it’s hard to explain what the Cape League is until you get here and experience it. My teammates always joked with me about the summer I had, telling me I was going to be here one day, but I didn’t really expect it,” reflected Jordan on his time as a Firebird.
Described as pitching “lights-out” in the summer of 2015, the humble Jordan returned to Stetson University and was soon drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics, and spent four years in their minor league system.
Jordan’s nomination was presented by his former pitching coach, Bill Bray, who made a point early on to express that they all knew early on that there wasn’t much to teach him during his time in Orleans.
“It’s one thing to come here and perform well, but it’s another thing to come from a good but small school and perform well. Watching you perform and work in the bullpen, I knew early on there wasn’t much I could teach you,” laughed Bray when telling of how the humble Jordan made the pitching staff's jobs easy.
Coming from Stetson University, a small college in Florida, Mitchell recalled how once he got the news from Coach Kelly Nicholson that he would be added to the roster, he felt like he was in over his head with the schools his teammates performed from.
“Naturally, the first thing I did when I found out I was playing here was to look up the roster of the guys that I would play with. Immediately, I noticed big prospect after big prospect and big school after big school, and my first thought was I’m never going to pitch here,” laughed Mitchell. “But, I'll never forget driving up here with my mom. I got a text from Kelly saying that I'd be starting on opening day. I knew if I threw a couple of good outings, he would have to keep pitching me. So I took it pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning, and game-by-game.”
Pitch-by-pitch, inning-by-inning, and game-by-game Mitchell took it, earning his rightful spot amongst the greats in the CCBL Hall of Fame.
Lance Berkman - Wareham Gatemen
In the summer of 1996, Wareham was seen as a powerhouse at the hands of Texas native, Lance Berkman. Berkman, the two-time Rice University All-American, made his presence known in his time with the Gatemen, winning the batting title with a .352 average.
The following year, Berkman was named the National College Player of the Year, hitting .431 with 41 HRs, 134 RBI, and 109 runs, leading the Owls to their first College World Series appearance.
Following that, Berkman was selected 16th overall by the Houston Astros in the 1997 MLB Draft, going on to become a six-time MLB All-Star and a World Series champion in 2011 with the Cardinals.
“It was very helpful for me just to be in an environment where you’re away from home playing against the best players in the country, playing on a daily basis. You know, back then we had jobs so it was an introduction to what professional baseball was really like,” reflected Berkman on his time with the Gatemen. “It was my first glimpse at what professional baseball is. It made it where the next year when I got drafted and went into the minor leagues, I had already been through something similar to that so it helped ease my transition into professional baseball.”
Berkman’s excitement was contagious when reflecting on his lifetime of baseball, encapsulating how many of these inductees both past and present can’t begin to fathom the honor of being recognized for their contributions to the League.
Berkman emphasized that the idea of being inducted rarely crosses players' minds, their main focus is to show up and show off.
“When you’re playing, you’re thinking "Hey, I’m worried about the game today", you’re not thinking, "Hey, I’m going to put up these numbers and they’re going to be recognized at some point". It really survived every day and once it was over with, you look back and reflect and that's where you can enjoy it."
These six inspiring and dedicated individuals finally saw their names sit right where they belonged amongst other greats a part of the CCBL Hall of Fame.
The recurring theme of being a part of the CCBL is the saying, “best of the best”. To play baseball with the “best of the best” is an unparalleled experience that goes beyond the thrill of competition seen in the CCBL. It means stepping onto each and every field with individuals who have honed in on their skills to the highest level, sharing the same passion and commitment to the sport. The camaraderie among these elite players creates an environment pushing them each to new heights.