Cape League Commissioner: Season Has Been ‘Best Scenario Possible’

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: Cape Cod Baseball League , Orleans Firebirds , Chatham Anglers , Harwich Mariners

Orleans outfielder Rhylan Thomas (5) from the University of Southern California calls timeout after hitting a double during Sunday’s game against Chatham at Eldredge Park. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

Eric Zmuda was riding high in early 2020. It was for good reason, too.

He had completed the 2019 summer — the first in which he served as Cape Cod Baseball League commissioner — and was gearing up for a second season he anticipated would run even more smoothly than his first.

“Going into year two as a commissioner was pretty exciting,” Zmuda said. “Year one was a good success with all 10 organizations. I had a great time in the new role.”

The 2020 calendar had turned from late February to early March and the Cape League was finalizing its schedule plans for the upcoming summer when COVID-19 began to spread across the country.

“We had all of our handbooks set and then everything came down the pipe where we had to do a little pause and listen and wait,” recalls Zmuda when asked about last spring.

The league ultimately made the decision on April 24 to cancel the 2020 season in its entirety, a decision that halted the nation’s top collegiate summer baseball league for the first time since World War II.

“With all of the information that was coming down, it was something we just knew was the right decision to make,” Zmuda said. “Nobody wanted to [cancel], but we really had to think of the safety for everybody and just call the season for 2020.”

Although there are still COVID-19 protocols in place to protect team and league officials, players, coaches and spectators alike, Zmuda said the first few weeks of this summer have been a resounding success.

“It was prepare for the worst and hope for the best, which we have,” he said. “To that degree, we’ve had just about the best scenario possible. We are having to keep some of our COVID protocols and policies in place because, just like last year, we still want to consider the safety of everyone involved. We don’t want to have another spike.”

Some of the precautions that were implemented by Zmuda and the league for this summer include a 40-game schedule rather than 44 game. There also isn’t going to be an All-Star Game — though All-Star teams will still be announced — and there aren’t extra-inning games or make-up dates for rainouts.

According to Zmuda, those changes were all made to limit the travel and interactions between players.

Even with some alterations, it’s still Cape League baseball, and Cape residents and summer visitors have still enjoyed the action. That much has been clear all summer, beginning June 20 when the league’s five opening day crowds drew a combined attendance of 10,808, more than double the total of 4,828 that showed up to the 2019 opening day.

“Coming into opening day and hearing the reports from all of the parks on how busy it was and how amazing the crowds were gave everybody a great sense of accomplishment, relief and excitement,” Zmuda said. “And there’s an anticipation for the rest of the season that has continued through this first week-and-a-half or so.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com



Recent/Upcoming Games For Chatham Anglers (5-6-2)
July 4: Orleans 8, Chatham 3
July 5: Chatham 4, Hyannis 1
July 9: Wareham at Chatham, 7 p.m.
July 10: Chatham at Harwich, 5:30 p.m.