05/16/2007 1:39 PM
16 May 2007
Cape League Special
Y-D Red Sox Player Johnny Ayers Get ‘Hit of a Lifetime’
Red Sox “Spring Roll” Led by Dice-K
"I think the stadium was a bit on edge after their $103 million man got hit
by some college kid. But after he retired the next six batters in order everyone relaxed
back in their seat and he just carved us up."
It’s springtime, and as the people of Boston emerged from their winter cocoons, they noticed changes along Yawkey Way.
Red Sox t-shirts are printed in Japanese, tourists flood the streets, and sushi rolls are named after him. It can only mean one thing. The Red Sox have signed a major player; one who could change the game forever; one who could help lead their team to another World Series.
Say his name and people go wild. It’s spring fever. Baseball fever, and it’s about to explode Japanese-style this season.
Down south in Fort Myers Fla., Japanese native Daisuke Matzuska awaits his debut as a Boston Red Sox hurler.
It’s spring training, and Boston College’s ACC baseball team is ready for the first pitch. Junior Johnny Ayers steps to the plate eying his competition.
“I was hoping to have a quality at bat and make solid contact,” Ayers said. Matsuzaka’s first pitch as a Red Sox would go down in history.
Ayers lined Matzuska’s fast ball to left field for an opposite-field double. However, the jitters Matzusaka felt during his first pitch disappeared. He settled down and struck out the next two batters, former Hyannis Mets Jared McGuire and Pete Frates of BC to end the inning.
"It was a very exciting time leading up to our face-off against Dice-K,” said Ayers. “Having all the Boston and international media around our practices was a bit of a change from our normal bubble practices. We all loved the exposure for our program and just the opportunity to face a pitcher coming into Boston with this kind of national acclaim.
"I think the stadium was a bit on edge after their $103 million man got hit by some college kid. But after he retired the next six batters in order everyone relaxed back in their seat and he just carved us up."
Unfortunately, for BC, the rest of the game that day went exactly how the Red Sox wanted it to go for their “eleven million dollar a year man”. The Sox went on to beat BC 9-1. But Ayers had all he needed to carry himself through the rest of the season.
Ayers, who will join the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League in June, will always be known as the player who got the first hit off Japanese-star Matzusaka during spring training.
But Ayers is modest about it, and is thrilled to have the chance to play in the CCBL this summer. The Cape League is the best colligate league in the country, and draws baseball stars from all over the nation to watch.
"I cannot wait to play ball for Y-D this summer,” said Ayers. “This is a dream I’ve had for a long time, and I’m excited to finally be able to showcase my talents in the country's premier amateur league. I am excited to finish up my junior year hopefully with a trip to the ACC and NCAA tournament. The June draft is obviously very much on my mind and the excitement building up to the fall with a BC football team that is set to be very, very good. "
And, if lucky, to play in the shadows of Cape League alumni such as current Red Sox players Jason Varitek (Hyannis ’91 & ’93), Doug Mirabelli (Hyannis ’90), Mike Lowell ( Chatham ’94) ), Kevin Youkilis (Bourne ’00) and Kyle Snyder (Chatham ’98) and hot prospects such as David Murphy (Wareham ’00-’01), Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth ’04), Daniel Bard (Wareham ’05) and Craig Hansen (Harwich ’04).
The number of fans that attend the CCBL All-Star game at the end of July grows each season because of the popularity of baseball throughout the northeast.
The signing of right-handed pitcher Matzusaka has had a monumental impact on the historic city of Boston in 2007.
Dice-K, as he is referred to here in Boston, has spread baseball fever internationally. Bars in Tokyo are tuned to every Red Sox game to watch one of their own dominate with his cutting pitches, or as some like to believe, the “gyro-ball.”
Tourists from Japan shop in a frenzy along Yawkey Way, just so they can sport their new Dice-K t-shirt. Baseball fever explodes every spring, but this time it impacts thousands more. From the Far East lands of Japan to Red Sox Nation, fans are in full support of their number one man, Dice-K, and will be sporting his name all season long.
The history of Baseball in the northeast began over a hundred years ago, but the popularity of baseball in general and the Boston Red Sox in particular is still growing. Boston has built a bridge internationally with Dice-K fanatics and it shows on the streets, in the media, and on the green monster.
There will be plenty to keep baseball fans busy this summer. Some may sleep on the sidewalk outside of Fenway just to buy tickets to see Dice-K pitch, while others travel to the Cape to see Johnny Ayers hit line drives for the Cape League. No matter where you end up, there will be plenty of baseball wealth to spread around.
Lauren Malone, CCBL Intern ([email protected])
John Garner, Jr.
Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting
(508) 790-0394 [email protected]