Mountaineers’ Doanes, Wolf summer in fast-paced Cape Cod League
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Continuously since 1885, there has been amateur baseball in small towns and hamlets in Massachusetts.
Since 1963, the Cape Cod Baseball League has been officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball, providing a platform for collegiate players wanting to impress professional scouts.
The 10-team circuit began using wooden bats again in 1985, after a string of seasons when aluminum bats were all the rage.
For decades now, the Cape Cod League has been given the nod by professional scouts, college coaches and even Major League Baseball as the best summer league in the country.
The 44-game regular season begins at the close of the first week in June, even while the NCAA Division I national tournament is bumping along toward its premier event — the College World Series.
The 10 teams vigorously recruit their summer players. And the players better be ready to play — and play well — from the time they arrive in the Bay State. Rosters are continuously churning; with players coming in or being released at a sometimes feverish rate.
Ballparks are far from fancy and several don’t have lights that would ever favor hitters. There are no covered grandstands anywhere the franchises — Bourne, Brewster, Chatham, Cotuit, Falmouth, Harwich, Hyannis, Orleans, Wareham and Yarmouth-Dennis — are located. Fans bring their lawn chairs at some of the ballparks.
Some fences are close enough to help the hitters, and the playing surfaces are well manicured and hospitable.
There were 306 former Cape Cod League players in the Major Leagues in the 2018 season. When the Major League All-Star game was played this week, there were 12 players from the Cape Cod League divided among the two teams.
Chatham’s Anglers lead the league in average attendance with 1,511 coming nightly. Orleans and its Firebirds draw 1,451 to each playing date. Last-place Yarmouth-Dennis, with a 3-13 record, still had 1,377 people at each home game.
Only the Falmouth Commodores and Wareham Gatemen drew fewer than 1,000 people per date.
West Virginia University has two players with further collegiate eligibility playing in Cape Cod this summer.
Second baseman Tyler Doanes is with Chatham and had played in 16 games through July 5. He was batting .308 with 12 hits in 39 at-bats. Doanes had scored 12 runs and been successful on all three of his stolen base attempts.
Pitcher Jackson Wolf of Cotuit had made three starts, pitched 14.2 innings, allowed only 9 hits and three earned runs. Wolf had an eye-opening 2.45 ERA and had struck out 15 batters.
Only players with remaining collegiate eligibility can participate in the Cape Cod League.
Any player doing well in the league will draw professional baseball’s attention to his skills. Many of next spring’s Major League Baseball draftees in the earliest rounds will have honed their skills in the Cape Cod League.
Doanes and Wolf have made the needed impressions to become draftees next spring.