Orleans Interns Are Primed For Baseball Careers

By: Brendan Samson

Topics: Cape Cod Baseball League , Orleans Firebirds

The Orleans interns have different roles within the team where they gain real-world experience. From left: Luke Hansard, Kevin McNulty, Luke Moehle, Ryan Miller, Jack Mueller and Graeme Ashley. BRENDAN SAMSON PHOTO

ORLEANS – Before every Orleans Firebirds home game, the team’s players show up hours early for batting practice and warm-ups. Although the rest of the field is usually empty before fans begin to roll in, there is another group of people who show up at the same time as the players — the Firebirds’ interns.

And, just like the players, the interns get right to work.

The Cape Cod Baseball League is universally known as baseball’s premier collegiate summer league. Players come from all over the country hoping to make a team, and interns carry the same philosophy in hopes of furthering their careers and making memories while also enjoying some of the best baseball in the nation.

“It's always beneficial to come to new environments and learn different styles of coaching and meeting players from all over, it's been awesome,” said Luke Hansard, 20, the director of baseball operations for the Firebirds.

“There are some guys I never would have met without this opportunity. The relationships and friendships that I made here have been awesome. There's seven of us interns that live in a house over in Brewster, guys that I’ll keep in touch with for the rest of our lives.”

Hansard’s role in baseball operations is different than his education at Long Beach State University, where he’s a psychology major, but it is entwined with the career he hopes to pursue.

“I'm really interested in performance psychology,” Hansard said. “Especially with a sport like baseball, talking about failure which is so prevalent in this sport and how athletes deal with that is super interesting and important. Then baseball operations, I love just behind the scenes. Even paperwork, I love that stuff. Then there's athletics administration that I'm interested in, there’s a few different alleys that I'm interested in. Who knows what will happen, but it's exciting for sure.”

Much like his fellow interns, Hansard’s voyage to the Cape involved an airport. Coming from Long Beach, Calif., where he also lives, he has been a student manager at school for the past two years. The opportunity to come to the Cape League materialized when Eric Valenzuela, the head coach for the Long Beach State baseball team, talked to Firebirds manager Kelly Nicholson and helped Hansard land the position.

Now, he is doing what he loves to do at school – helping with all of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the team, including laundry, bus trips and, yes, even more laundry.

While Hansard is a one-man band, other departments require multiple interns collaborating. That includes the broadcast team, which is comprised of broadcasters Luke Moehle, 22, who just graduated from the University of Missouri; Jack Johnson, who just graduated from Arizona State University; and sideline reporter Kevin McNulty, a senior at the University of Maryland.

The three of them work together to put on the Firebirds broadcast, which streams on the team’s YouTube channel each night. While they have some guidance, McNulty values the freedom they have to make the broadcast their own.

“Nobody told us to make the rundown, nobody told us to start the pregame show at 6:15 p.m. It's kind of all up to us,” said McNulty, a 21-year-old from Chicago. “At this point, we figured out where we do a really good job, getting people set for first pitch in those first 15 minutes and then by the time the game rolls around, you know what to expect.”

The rundown kicks off their broadcast. It features McNulty standing out on the field followed by an introduction video made by Oscar Forester, the team’s videographer. It then heads up to the booth where Moehle and Johnson get the viewers ready for first pitch. The group’s goal is to create a broadcast that mirrors that of MLB, something McNulty feels the team has done.

Moehle, who played baseball at Mizzou and came to the Cape as both a broadcast intern and bullpen catcher for the team, says the experience of being around the club has bolstered his broadcast skills.

“Just being here soaking in [batting practice], figuring out what's the story of the night and then just having conversations with guys, figuring out who they are so that it's not just jamming your .333 batting average down the viewers throat. It's more about who this guy is as a person, what they're interested in,” Moehle said.

While Moehle is all about the players’ personality, the team has an entire team devoted to the numbers. The analytics team, made up of three interns, dives into the statistics provided by TrackMan and finds how they can help the players improve. Among the analytics interns is Graeme Ashley, 22, who recently graduated from Boston University, but comes to the Cape from San Francisco.

“For hitters, I'll give them data on their exit velocity and launch angle and say a guy's having a bad slump or something, I could predict expected batting average for all his balls in play,” Ashley said. “So, I can show him, ‘You might be hitting .150, but you're hitting the ball really hard, and your expected batting average is like .350.’”

Ashley also makes graphs and charts for the catchers and pitchers to help with their development and performance in front of scouts. An intern who works with those scouts is Ryan Miller, a 20-year-old digital studies major from Stockton University in New Jersey. Miller is the MLB scout liaison for the team and understands how advantageous interning in the CCBL can be.

“It's all about the networking, meeting people who are in a position that I want to be in someday and just picking their brain, talking to them about the way that they see things, how they see players and stuff like that,” Miller said. “It has been very beneficial.”