08/04/2020 4:43 AM
Jeff Reardon and Arnold Mycock - Cotuit - SportsPix Photo
Article By: Mike Richard
In the 1975 season, Cotuit concluded its amazing four-year run of championships with an explosion in the final game of the title game against Falmouth that nearly brought the house down.
The Kettleers launched six home runs and erupted for 14 runs en route to a 14-3 victory in the clincher.
It was just the beginning for the town of Barnstable which sat atop the Cape League through the remainder of the decade for four of the last five years. Cotuit won championships in 1975 and 1977, while newcomer Hyannis (which entered the league in 1976) took back to back titles in 1978 and 1979.
As we spend a summer without Cape Cod League baseball, The Barnstable Patriot will continue take a look back at the Cotuit team, this time during the 1975-79 era.
Year W-L Place Playoffs
1975 24-18 3rd Won Cape League championship
1976 25-12 2nd Lost in semifinals to Wareham, 2-0
1977 27-13 1st Won Cape League championship
1978 19-22 6th Did not qualify
1979 23-17 2nd Lost in semifinals to Harwich, 2-1
Cotuit seemed to catch lightning in a bottle once again as the season moved on. In 1974 the Kettleers finished fourth before moving on to win the championship. Then in 1975, Cotuit placed third during the regular season before ramping it up for the playoffs.
The Kettleers beat second place Orleans in two straight in the semifinals and moved on to the championship series against Falmouth.
The first four games were squeakers with Cotuit winning the first two, 2-0 and 3-2, before the Commodores evened the series with two straight wins at 4-3 and 2-1.
Everyone expected a close game, particularly with Falmouth ace John Tudor going in the clinching game. However, the Kettleers unleashed a power attack which began in the first inning when Barry Butera belted a grand slam. It was the first of six round trippers for the game.
Rusty Jacobs followed with a two-run homer and Paul O’Neill hit his first of two in the seventh inning. In the eighth, Steve Kesses homered, O’Neill belted a two-run shot and Al Lopez followed with a back-to-back blast making it six for the night and a 14-3 final.
In his first season, Jack Gillis managed the squad to victory. Also on the team were Rick Misenti, George DiMatteo, Ron Endquist, Jesse Trinidad, Ronnie Harrington, Gary McCabe, Perry Bauer, Jim Fleming, Al Bassignani, Pete Rodis and Jerry Erb.
Two of the players later went on to play in the major leagues, pitcher Jeff Reardon ( Mets, Expos, Twins, Red Sox, Braves, Reds, and Yankees ) and Joe Beckwith (Dodgers 1979-83, Royal 1984-86).
The Kettleers came back to earth during the summer of 1976, despite its second-place finish during the regular season. In the playoffs, Wareham knocked off Cotuit in two straight games in the semifinals as the Gatemen went on to win a five-game final over Chatham for the championship.
Cotuit went on to win its fifth and final championship of the decade with a potent line-up showcased throughout the season.
On July 3, Jim Lauer hit three home runs as well as completing the feat of homering from both sides of the plate in a 13-4 win over Hyannis. Later that month on July 27, Joe Rietano hit his 14th home run of the season to tie the record of former Cotuit slugger Joe Zylka, who also had 14 in 1972.
Other offensive highlights included batting champ Del Bender (.399) finishing with 64 hits to break Hyannis’ Nat Showalter’s mark of 62 in 1976, while Rietano had 41 RBIs to tie the season total of Ken Huebner (Cotuit, 1964).
The offensive production continued into the playoffs with a pair of double-digit wins over Wareham in the semifinals: 11-8 and 12-1. The solid pitching of future major leaguer Brian Denman (Red Sox, 1982) and the power hitting of Del Bender, Don Fusari and Gary Redus (who spent 13 years in the pros, primarily with Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Texas) led the Kettleers.
In the finals, more fireworks followed as Cotuit unloaded five homers in the first game of a 19-3 win over Yarmouth-Dennis. That was followed up by a 15-11 Cotuit victory behind 24 hits and another four home runs.
A rain storm delayed the inevitable postponing game three, where the Red Sox regrouped for a 10-1 win. However, in a double header on Aug. 25, Y-D pushed the series to the limit with a 5-4 win before Cotuit took the clincher, 8-3.
Cotuit finished out of playoff contention with a sixth-place finish with a 19-22-1 record.
The Kettleers closed out the decade with a second-place regular season finish that was followed by an early exit in the semifinals with a loss to Harwich in three games.
While the postseason was not a success, the regular season held many highlights.
Cotuit’s Tim Teufel, who would later go on to play for the World Series champion New York Mets against the Red Sox in 1986, set several Cape League records that season. His 16 home runs established a new single season record, while he also set a new mark for single-season RBI with 52. In addition, his 48 runs scored was also a Cape League record at the time.
Another member of the Kettleers that season was pitcher Joe Hesketh, who went on to an eleven-year Major League career most notably with Montreal and the Red Sox.
Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at [email protected].