By Roy Reiss
Kettleers Public Address Announcer
June 15, 2012
Cotuit—Earlier this month 3 Cotuit families had quite a celebration while watching things unfold during the first round of Major League Baseball’s annual draft.
Deb and Tom Baker, Lisa and Peter Theoharidis, along with Lisa and Glenn Mathieu felt as much pride as anyone when Kyle Zimmer, Deven Marrero, and Victor Roache respectively were all selected during the first round of the event. They had spent last summer housing the player, getting to know him and creating a bond that hopefully would last forever.
In the case of Lisa and Peter Theoharidis, who had housed Marrero for 2 summers, they flew to Florida to be with Marrero and his family during this very special time in his life.
Coach Mike Roberts describes it as “the heartbeat of the CCBL”, the host parents being as much a part of the Kettleers team as the players themselves. The relationship developed over the course of the 2 months on the Cape is something that will long be cherished by both the player and family.
Turn back the clock 24 years. Christina and Donald Barley had just moved to the Cape and were intrigued by the prospect of doing something for the Kettleers.
“Arnold Mycock met us at a game, and we mentioned we would like to get involved with the team in any way needed. Coincidentally, they had a player coming in from UT-Arlington who they needed housing for, and we had the perfect setup,” explained Christina as if it were yesterday. “We really lucked out with Patrick Varni, a wonderful young man, who became, and is, like a son to us. At the time, my husband was the managing producer of the Merrill Lynch office in Hyannis. Pat worked for him as a “receptionist”, and my husband’s one complaint about Pat was that he didn’t think he’d ever have enough of a work ethic to make it in business. Well, Pat has gone on to become a national sales manager with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world so it just goes to show.”
The memories and stories continued to flow as she recalled vividly the way things unfolded and how it shaped the future for her family.
“I think when lots of these young men show up on the Cape, they really want to play baseball but truly want to enjoy the experience of living on Cape Cod for the summer!! Howard Prager, who played two years for the Kettleers, went on to play for the Astros, and was about to step into the “bigs” when the strike ended! His parents came to visit the summer Pat lived with us (Pat and Howard were college roommates) and put on a big Texas BBQ for all the players and their houseparents. We became friendly with Patti and Jerold, and, to this day, they remain two of our closest friends!! We’ve attended weddings, bat mitvahs, and graduation parties, and I can’t say enough about how grateful we were to have been involved in the Cape League program.”
The bond developed between house parents and players is a two way street. The players also haven’t forgotten how things evolved and shaped their future.
“The Cape experience is one that I will never forget,” added Prager. “The people, the community, and lifelong friendships that are as strong as any. Don and Chris Barley were not just house parents. The Barleys have been to our weddings and we to their kids, they have been to my daughters Bat Mitzvah, and they still vacation with my parents. These are not the typical bonds you make playing summer baseball. To this day, I still say the best 2 summers of my life were the ones spent on the Cape,”
The time goes by quickly and sometimes the experience ends even for the house parents as circumstances sometimes dictate what transpires.
“We were always sad about having to leave Cotuit when Don got transferred to Manchester, NH and now, when we visit, we wish we’d had more time there,” stated Christina. “The summers of 1988 and 1989 were GREAT in terms of players: Jeff Kent, Timmy Salmon, Dan Wilson, Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, Scott Erickson, Chuck Knobloch, etc., etc., etc. We had players hanging around the house all the time. Pat and Howard were like big brothers to both of our girls. I can’t put into words how amazing it was to be involved with the Kettleers and summer baseball. Experience of a lifetime!! It is great to know new, young, energetic people are still eager to get involved with the team, but there will never be another Arnold Mycock.”
In the summer of 2012, “the heartbeat” is as strong as ever.
Kettleer Hot Corner will be anything and everything that might interest fans, past and present, about the Kettleers. Roy Reiss, who started his career working for Curt Gowdy Broadcasting, was a former sportscaster on Channel 7 and several radio stations in Boston. His son Mike now covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston.