A warm summer afternoon spent at a baseball game is a beloved tradition for many American families. But in the age of crowded mega stadiums and sky-high ticket prices, it can be rare to find a chance to experience the fun and charm of a family baseball outing. But on the Cape, visitors will find a unique combination of small-town fun and world-class baseball unlike any other. "It really is a Norman Rockwell setting," says Cape Cod Baseball League Commissioner Paul Galop.
The Cape Cod Baseball League was founded in 1885. During the first half of the twentieth century, the League was dominated by local and regional players, as well as by GIs returning from World Wars I and II. Today, the CCBL is the top collegiate summer league in the United States, attracting players and scouts from across the country. Over 1,000 CCBL alumni have gone on to play for the MLB, including Nomar Garciaparra, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Pena, and Mark Texeira.
With ten teams playing at fields across the Cape and a busy schedule of games throughout the summer, the League is easily accessible for locals and visitors in any region. It is the high quality of the games, however, that attracts such a loyal following. "These teams are minor league quality. Some of these kids could step right into a major-league lineup," Galop says. "The fans keep coming back. We get calls all winter asking about when the all-star game is. People are making their vacations around our schedule."
For those unfamiliar with the League, it may come as a surprise to learn that all CCBL games are free and open to the public, which makes the League a rarity among major and amateur leagues alike. "Most of the other leagues charge some sort of admission, but we never have," Galop says. "It's just what we believe in. It's important to us that it's a wholesome family environment. People can bring some pizza and come and go as they please."
The League relies heavily on a devoted cadre of volunteers, which Galop credits as one of the League's greatest strengths. The volunteers make the League," he says. "We have so many volunteers who give up their time to work concessions stands and serve as announcers. Many even serve as house parents and open their homes to our players for the season."
For Galop, the human connections that the League fosters between players, volunteers, coaches, and the community make the CCBL particularly special. "One of my favorite things about the League is the loyalty of the players," he says. "It's an incredible feeling when one of our former players calls his house parents and lets them know that there are tickets waiting for them at Fenway Park. We get invitations to baptisms and weddings--these things that most people don't know about really set the League apart."