Written by Kathleen Szmit
Next Wednesday evening baseball will return to Hyannis. The Mets will lace up their cleats, put pine tar on the bats and prepare for game play at McKeon Field.
No, it’s not opening day (yet). This particular game is a special exhibition between the Mets and Team Cape Cod, a local Senior Babe Ruth team.
The game was the idea of Mets general manager Bill Bussiere, who talked with Team Cape Cod coach Dan Proto about the possibility of the teams playing each other.
“I just think it’s nice because we’re promoting a local team. We’re always trying to promote baseball in the town of Barnstable,” said Bussiere. “Babe Ruth uses the field, Sturgis Charter School uses the field, and now Pope John Paul High be using it.”
Bussiere said that because of the new lights and field improvements, teams that use the field must pay a usage fee. For the exhibition game, the store and the concession stands will be open and the funds raised will benefit both teams.
“It’s going to be a mini-fundraiser for them and for us,” said Bussiere. “In return for playing us they’ll probably be able to play a game for free [in the future].”
Proto said that his team is thrilled about the opportunity to compete against a Cape League team.
“They’re very excited,” he said. “Our kids want to get there and this will give them a shot. No other amateur group in the country can say they played a Cape League team.”
While Proto is realistic about his team’s chances for a win, he feels good about helping the Mets kick off their 2008 season.
“They’re getting ready for the season,” he said. “If we can help them with that, that’s terrific.”
The game will also prepare Team Cape Cod for what could be a 40-to-50 game summer.
For the Mets, Bussiere noted that it’s their first real game under the newly installed lights.
“Everything will be open,” he said. “We’re going to do all of this stuff as a preseason game for everybody. It will be the first time our guys play in an actual game day situation.”
Both Bussiere and Proto hope to attract local fans to enjoy the event, which will feature baseball talent from across the country and across Cape Cod between the two teams.
“We want to get local people excited,” said Bussiere. “Four days from then it will be opening day.”