Many big league ballplayers hope to make it to Cooperstown, N.Y. The quaint village in central New York is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, making it a coveted landing spot for many baseball players with hopes of becoming immortalized as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
The Cape Cod Sharks 12-and-under baseball team recently made its own trek to Cooperstown. Although the Sharks visited the Hall of Fame, sightseeing was hardly the reason for their trip.
From Aug. 3 until Aug. 9, the Sharks took part in the Cooperstown Dreams Park 12U tournament just a few miles from the Hall of Fame. They were tabbed as the No. 14 seed among 88 teams from around the country and finished 5-2 before being ousted in the Sweet 16 of the tournament.
“Just seeing the kids come together was unbelievable,” said Ryan Campbell, a Dennis resident who served as an assistant coach on the team, which is mostly comprised of Dennis-Yarmouth players but also includes a couple from Harwich.
“Not even just the baseball part of it, but the trading the pins, meeting other teams, the camaraderie with the other kids – it was an unbelievable experience. It was more than just baseball,” he said.
Not only did the players return to the Cape with pins representing the different teams that took part in the tournament, but they also brought back countless memories.
There were plenty of highlights throughout the tournament. Campbell’s son, Grayden, tossed a no-hitter on the mound and hit a home run against the Virginia-based Arlington Storm, while two of his teammates also rounded the bases after going deep during the tournament.
“They played their butts off and it wasn’t just one kid – we had two kids [Mason Manuel and Jacob Moriarty] that never hit home runs show up and hit home runs in Cooperstown,” Campbell said. “It was like a complete team effort.”
Campbell coached alongside head coach Mike Slade and assistant Justin Endres, both of whom had sons on the team. Erik Bohlin, a fixture for the D-Y high school program, and his cousin, Michael Knell, a former D-Y standout who played at UMass Dartmouth, also joined the coaching staff.
D-Y’s youth baseball program has held a ticket to send teams to the tournament for years, according to Campbell, who said each team must pay $25,000 in order to take part in the renowned tournament.
“D-Y has held a ticket for years and it gets passed down from coach to coach as they are leaving Little League,” he said. “Whoever runs the All-Stars that year usually has the ticket to go to Cooperstown and we do the same thing year after year. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a D-Y team, it’s up to the coach if he wants to take his All-Star team or if he wants to add a couple kids from other towns.
“This year we took the majority of our All-Star team and a couple of kids from Harwich [Max Furman and Tyler Layton].”
Campbell said it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the players’ families and the community at large.
“The families were great and all of the parents helped us out,” he said. “And the community contributed because you’ve got to raise $25,000 just to have the ticket to go, so community-wise, corporations came together and the families raised money.”
Email Brad Joyal at Brad@capecodchronicle.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal