The schedule is set, the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and the countdown to the start of the Cape Cod Baseball League season is underway.
The excitement surrounding the league’s return to play has been boiling for more than a year, and it’s finally almost time to play ball once again.
“We’re very excited and very anxious to get back and open up the season this year,” said Harwich Mariners President Mary Henderson.
After the Cape League was forced to cancel the 2020 season due to the pandemic, the top collegiate summer baseball league in the nation will return June 20 with all 10 of its teams in action. The Orleans Firebirds will open their season at Eldredge Park with a 7 p.m. game against the Mariners, while the Chatham Anglers will visit Falmouth for a 6 p.m. test against the Clippers in their opener. Chatham's home opener will be June 21 against Orleans.
There will be some notable differences in this year’s schedule. Teams will play 40 games rather than 44, and there won’t be an All-Star game — which typically serves as the crown jewel of the league’s summer slate and draws thousands of fans from around the region.
As much as the All-Star game will be missed, that news hasn’t diminished the widespread enthusiasm that seems to be shared among team front offices. For Chatham Anglers Association President Steve West, there’s excitement knowing Veterans Field will be full of spectators, not only for the Anglers’ games but also for a fireworks display on July 1.
“We got the blessing to have a fireworks show, which is something, but also to have full attendance and no masks,” West said. “My guess is people are going to want to get out and do things, and where there were no games last year, we are certainly expecting good crowds this year.”
Although team officials are thrilled about baseball returning to the Cape, the search for host families continues to be at the forefront for some.
“The big thing about the schedule this year is all about the host families,” said Bob O’Donnell, Orleans Firebirds President. “There are some teams — including us — that just don’t have our full capacity of host families yet. If you don’t have host families with 30 beds, meaning you only have 26 or 27 beds, you can only take 27 players. So you have to tell three contract players you don’t have beds for them.”
Orleans residents interested in becoming a host family should call Nancy Nickerson at 508-255-3328.
Only a few days have passed since Massachusetts lifted the majority of its COVID-19 safety guidelines, but Henderson has already noticed a change of pace in the area. The Mariners president said she expects a busy summer, both for the league and the Cape.
“People on the Cape missed baseball last year, so I think we’re going to have a really good season,” Henderson said. “I think it’s going to be very busy.”
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