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Cape League Flashback - 1923 - 1929 - Mike Richard League Historian

1923 Barnstable County Fair - Barnstable Patriot File Photo
06/25/2020 4:13 AM

Article By: Mike Richard

     According to baseball historians, the first organized Cape Cod Baseball League began 97 years ago this month when teams from Chatham, Falmouth, Hyannis and Osterville joined to form the first such organization.

     The outstanding book “Baseball by the Beach,” written by Christopher Price in 1998, noted that an article in the July 9, 1923 Hyannis Patriot, the forerunner of this newspaper, was headlined “Cape Cod Baseball League.”Price noted, “It is believed that this account was the first time that the phrase ‘Cape Cod Baseball League’ appeared in any publication.”

     As we spend a summer without Cape Cod League baseball, we will take a look back in time at the teams from the Barnstable area that played in the league over the years.

    When the league was first organized in 1923, Barnstable was represented by two separate villages, Hyannis and Osterville. Hyannis played its first games on a tract of land which was donated to the team by town resident Albert Hallett, who was reportedly a big baseball fan. When a ballpark was developed there, it would be known as Hallett’s Field. The field was located in the area of the present Cape Cod Melody Tent.

    Walter Snell was listed as the first manager of the Hyannis team in 1923, then he was succeeded by Donald Dyke who served in that position from 1924-25. Other managers of the squad were Freddie Moncewicz (1926-27) and Arthur Norton (1928-30).

     The team from Osterville received less local newspaper coverage and their management was somewhat incomplete. Joe Murphy was noted at the first manager in 1925, and the games were played within the village of Osterville at the West Bay Field.   From 1928-30, the team was led by legendary player-manager Danny Silva, who was a former major league baseball player.

Playoffs / Champions
    In 1923, the four teams comprising the league played a total of 12 games throughout the months of July and August, with the season ending with a round-robin tournament at the end of August.

     Despite finishing third during the regular season with a 5-7 mark, Hyannis became the first-ever Cape League champion. It was decided that the Cape League Baseball championship would coincide with the annual Barnstable Fair and the games were played at the Fairgrounds.

     Every playoff game was decided by one run as Hyannis edged Falmouth 14-13, while Osterville nipped Chatham 4-3 on August 28. Two days later, Hyannis beat Osterville 1-0 in the championship game.

     The 1924 season saw a new champion with Osterville beating Falmouth in a playoff game; the last time playoffs were held for several seasons. Future major leaguers Frank “Shanty” Hogan and “Deacon” Danny McFadden were both members of that Osterville champs.

     From 1925-32, the league champion was determined by the team that finished first throughout the regular season with Hyannis and Osterville considered co-champs for their identical 24-17 record in 1926. During that stretch, Wareham and Orleans would eventually enter into the league, while Chatham and Harwich merged for a few seasons.

    The towns of Hyannis and Osterville took turns as champions for the 1927 and 1928 seasons.Hyannis found itself at the top of the standings at the end of the season on Labor Day 1927 with a 28-10 record, far outdistancing second place Falmouth (20-17).

     As was commonplace in that era, most players were simply referred to by their last names in box scores of the games and very few game write-ups were made during that season.

     The Hyannis team that season was led by pitchers Alexander and Hyde, while O’Brien was the catcher. The infield was made up of first baseman Mitchell, second baseman Credon, shortstop (Freddie) Moncewicz, and third baseman O’Day, with an outfield from left to right of Curtin, Norton and Dike.

     Then in 1928, Osterville emerged as the victor with a 28-14 record and finished ahead of second-place Hyannis by a full 6 ½ games. Future Major League pitcher Ed Wineapple was a member of the Osterville pitching staff that season.

     According to a season-ending write up in the Hyannis Patriot, “Superb pitching by the Osterville staff and a smooth working team gave Osterville a slight edge over Hyannis. With a better pitching staff and more consistent all-around playing, Hyannis would have stood a better chance of finishing closer to the winner or finishing in first place. Two or three stars on the Hyannis team played a remarkable game throughout the season, but their efforts were in vain.”

     To close out the decade, Falmouth claimed the championship following the 1929 season.
Here is a look at all Cape Cod Baseball League champions from 1923-29:

Year    Champion        
1923    Hyannis          
1924    Osterville        
1925    Osterville        
1926    Hyannis/Osterville    
1927    Hyannis
1928    Osterville
1929    Falmouth

Mike Richard is the official historian of the Cape Cod Baseball League and can be contacted by email at [email protected].