Local baseball players have something to look forward to. If all goes well, teams under the Baseball Clubs of Cape Cod and the Senior Babe Ruth organizations will start their seasons in July. Rosters for the Centerville Coyotes and the Lower Cape include a number of Monomoy and Nauset players.
After the American Legion canceled its summer schedule on a national level, local baseball players were left wondering when they’d get to play again. Enter David Murphy of the Centerville Coyotes.
“Once the American Legion canceled nationally, the group of general managers that are within District 10, affiliated with the American Legion, we decided to act independently to try and do something for the kids in the spirit of knowing that many seniors lost their seasons,” he said. “We felt like it was important to at least attempt some sort of summer league.”
Murphy said that his team, and those under the Baseball Clubs of Cape Cod umbrella, will do their utmost to respect the phases of reopening, as well as the pandemic safety guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control. While players won’t be wearing masks in a game that mostly allows social distancing, those in the dugout will, should dugouts be utilized.
“Our committee began to look at health and safety protocols and drafted a safety plan based on information from the state,” Murphy said.
Part of the plan involved securing insurance, which will require parents and/or players to sign COVID-19 waivers so the league will not be held responsible should players contract the virus.
“We drafted a waiver that’s basically a hold harmless agreement,” Murphy said, “which we got a really good response on from parents and players.”
Pandemic aside, the main focus is on giving kids the chance to play ball again. To do so, Murphy said two teams have been formed, one for players age 13-15 and another for kids age 16-19. Further sweetening the deal for the older team is the addition of Barnstable star Dylan Morris as coach.
Ideally, depending upon Phase 3 of the state’s plan for reopening, games could get started as early as July 1 and will run through Aug. 6. While there’s a rumor floating that other districts are trying to put together a state tournament to follow the summer season, Murphy said that hasn’t been set in stone yet, though he is hopeful.
“When you think about baseball, seniors get exposure to scouts and college scouts. A lot of kids didn’t have that season, so they weren’t able to get looked at,” Murphy said. “If we can pull off the state exposure, it’ll give kids a shot and possibly get connected with a school.”
The only drawback is that the games will have to be fan free until the state gives the go-ahead allowing spectators.
Though the home field for the Coyotes will be Lowell Park in Cotuit, which is where the team originated, the reworked program allowed Murphy to invite players from Monomoy.
“We’re happy about that because really, the spirit of the league is that we’re going to open it up to kids that want to play ball,” Murphy said.
So far, the roster includes catcher Sean Gould, pitcher Drew Edson, pitcher Joe Cottle, and hitters/fielders Logan Routhier and Asa Kline.
Gould said he’s thrilled to get back to baseball.
“It’s such a blessing and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “The world as a whole is starting to work together again after all of the negative things going on lately and it’s nice to see. If everyone just follows the rules and treats each other with respect, we won’t have new cases of the coronavirus, and no racial issues, which will help aid in us playing a full season without having to worry about it being canceled.”
Baseball, said Gould, brings people together, an aspect of the sport he appreciates. For Murphy, baseball is life. The father of three boys, ages 12, 10, and 7, his summers are often filled with baseball given that his sons all play for Barnstable Little League.
“For me, baseball is a way of life on the Cape,” Murphy said. “For us not to have that, it’s been difficult.”
Murphy knows well how illness can impact a season. When he was 16, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
“I lost about two months of baseball. I realized the things I took for granted — the opportunity to put spikes on and get out on these beautiful fields,” he said. “It kind of gave me a new sense of life. By the time I got back on the field I had a greater respect for the game and the opportunities we have here on the Cape.
“It’s a short window to have a really good time with the sport you love.”
A little closer to home will be the Lower Cape team of Senior Babe Ruth, which, according to coach Steve Porter, will include Monomoy players Josh Poitras, John-Michael Canto, RJ Mahoney, Matt Smeltzer, Wes Ulrich, Andrew Davock, and Matt Lucey, and Nauset players Noah Clarke, Cameron Beer, and Charles Gardner.
Porter said the decision to have a season followed weeks of discussion among those affiliated with Senior Babe Ruth.
“After a lot of conversation, we’ve decided to move forward with it,” said Porter, adding that practices started June 23. “The season is scheduled to start after Fourth of July weekend. This is assuming that the virus statistics stay trending in the correct direction.”
Porter said that player safety is the top priority. The stands at Whitehouse field will be reserved only for players, with no fans allowed to attend games. Dugouts will be for in-game pitchers and catchers only, to cool off and rest. Players will also be required to use hand sanitizer in between each inning, and game and practice balls will be kept in a bucket and will be sanitized regularly, including during games.
Players will be required to wear “gator” masks that will allow them to cover their faces when necessary. Batters will be required to wear them when up to bat and while on base, and first basemen will be required to wear them whenever another player is on base.
Handshakes and high fives are prohibited, and players will be required to bring their own water and equipment as there will be no team water and no sharing of equipment. To minimize the sideline spitting that takes place, players will not be allowed to chew gum or sunflower seeds. Similar to the Coyotes, players and/or their parents must also sign waivers.
“What I’m most looking forward to is the ball hitting the bat, the ball hitting the glove, and kids out there having fun,” Porter said. “I think it’s hugely important for the mental health for kids to see the light at the end of the tunnel and get back to normal. It’s going to be baseball, but not like you’ve ever seen it, but it will be baseball, nonetheless.”