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Cape League Hot Stove Event Recap

07/17/2023 9:27 AM

Article By: Andrew Fantucchio

For many who have gone on to illustrious careers in professional baseball, the Cape Cod Baseball League served as the launching pad for their success. Right now, though, the league doesn’t have anywhere to honor the great ball players who have made stops on Cape Cod, such as Ron Darling.

On Wednesday, July 12, the 1986 World Series champion returned to where it all started to participate in the CCBL’s Hall of Fame Hot Stove at the Yarmouth Moose Lodge, alongside former Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg and J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipient Peter Gammons, to raise awareness and funds for a new CCBL Hall of Fame.

“Not everyone is aware of what we’re trying to do, which is build a new home,” said Cape League Hall of Fame committee co-chair John Garner.

Although more alumni have continued to be inducted year after year, the Hall of Fame hasn’t had a permanent home since moving from its previous location, which was adjacent to the Kennedy Museum in Hyannis.

“We can’t have all of our plaques and everything else in storage,” said Cape League Hall of Fame Committee member Bob Corradi. “We need to display it.”

If all goes according to plan, the new Hall of Fame will open later this year on Route-28 in Yarmouth, equipped with exhibits full of memorabilia that showcase the best to have come through the Cape League.

“It'll be gorgeous, and it will contribute tremendously to the Cape Cod area,” Corradi said. “People will want to come here during the day, go through the Hall of Fame with their kids, and then catch a Yarmouth game or Harwich game in the evening. It’s a win-win situation.”

While the league has hosted Hot Stove events previously, this was the first of its kind as it took place during the Cape League season. With concerns over whether or not the event would draw a large enough crowd, the committee knew they needed to have marquee guests to headline the evening. When asked if he’d be willing to make an appearance, Darling didn’t have to think twice.

“Playing in the Cape Cod League was the greatest summer of my life,” Darling said. “If it wasn’t for this league and if it wasn’t for these people, I would have never had a career in the Major Leagues. So, it’s really easy to come back here every time.”

For over an hour, Darling, Gammons and Lonborg, whose names are all synonymous with baseball in the region, entertained a sold-out crowd with their tales of the game.

“They’re Cape League Hall of Famers, and they’re national names as well,” Garner said. "I think the event surpassed my expectations. It was a team effort from all of our committee.”

Following the event’s overwhelming success, the committee is already brainstorming new and inventive ways to drum up more support for the cause.

“I think once you host an event like this the first time, it's easy the second time around because you’ve already jumped through a lot of the hoops,” Garner said. “We probably like to have some kind of event during at least three out of the four seasons.”

One of the ideas in the works is potentially hosting an annual Hall of Fame game. The game would the first of every new season on the Cape and feature two of the league’s original teams with former players coming back to reminisce at the start of each summer.

Darling will surely be one of those returners and will take pride as the new Cape League Hall of Fame opens its doors. But for as much as the new building will mean to the Cape’s players, it will mean even more to the Cape itself.

“Whenever you're a Hall of Famer, you'd love to be a part of an exhibit,” Darling said. “But I think it’ll be more for the community and the people who get to come back here and revisit their childhood. A lot of people come into adulthood and grow up here during their summers, and baseball is such a big part of that.”