28 July, 2004

Unsung Heroes
Scores of Reasons behind Success of Cape League

     It is one of the most recognizable organizations on this narrow spit of land we call home. 

     While many of its members eventually attain the highest level of their profession, almost all its members are volunteers. 

     In some small way, it may have been one of the inspirations for CapeCorps.org which connects people and opportunities for volunteer community service. 

     A non-profit organization, it does not deal with the most needy, the indigent or those devastated by broken homes. Yet it provides a service to and an inspiration for people with talent who need a break. 

     An overstatement? Maybe. 

     But the 10 franchises of the Cape Cod Baseball League contain a legion of the most unsung heroes you'll find anywhere. 

     Its members give untold hours of their time to provide the best college baseball players in the country a chance at their dream - a shot at the Major Leagues. 

     They don't work 9 to 5, and their work doesn't start and end in the league's nine-week season. It's a year-round labor of love. 

     Its committees meet regularly in the off-season to design ways to build teams for the next season and dream up new ways to fund them. 

     The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox organization had a different challenge than most franchises this year. With extensive construction being done at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, where the team plays its home games, the main parking lot is closed to the public. The committee had to work with the school district for months to ensure the team's fans would be able to attend games. The result: fans are being shuttled to and from Station Avenue School down the road from D-Y in buses hired by the team. They made the best of a potentially bad situation. Just one of many behind-the-scenes actions taken by league franchises to bring success. 

     All the teams have a person or committee who works with members of the business community to coordinate jobs for players. Because most teams have mid-day clinics and games are played either late afternoon or at night, those jobs are in the morning. 

     Some players work in grocery stores, hardware stores, offices, landscaping or painting. Volunteers will set up the player with a job, arrange for training, and even arrange for or provide transportation to and from the jobs because many players don't bring their own car to the Cape. There's always someone behind the scenes who makes it happen. 

     Those people you see cooking burgers and hot dogs, selling raffle tickets and souvenir merchandise at the games also are housing or arranging housing for the more than 200 players who make it to the Cape each season. And their day doesn't end when the game is over. Those same volunteers clean up the field and around it, making sure everything is put in its place and ready for the next game. 

     These people are properly proud of their role in making the Cape Cod Baseball League the best of its kind in the country. They will recount memories of a former player of their team who has made it to the "bigs" and spit out the Cape League current major league statistics of that player. They'll tell you what family the player stayed with and what job he worked in town and what team drafted him and how he's doing in college. 

     It's a labor of love for these unsung heroes and they wouldn't trade it for anything. 

     We're looking for people connected with sports who don't get the credit top athletes receive - a team manager, volunteer or someone behind the scenes. If you know of any unsung heroes connected to sports in the Mid-Cape area, please call Don Sherlock at 508-375-4946 or e-mail him at dsherloc@cnc.com. 

By Don Sherlock