story by Sean Walsh
July 9, 2010
In late spring 1994, the talented Barnstable Senior Babe Ruth team was holding its tryouts at Barnstable High School on a balmy Sunday afternoon when a man Barnstable head coach Sean Walsh had never met before approached and started up a conversation.
“I have a great pitcher you might want to look at for your team,” the man said.
The problem was, the pitcher was nowhere in sight.
That’s because at the time, Berkshire School senior Chris Rogers, the pitcher, was still away at school, wrapping up his fine high school athletic career.
“If you want me to pick him, I have to see him in person,” Walsh told the man, who happened to be Chris Rogers’ father. “I’ll give him a fair look next weekend at our lat tryout.”
The reason why Walsh remembers the conversation like it was yesterday was because when the 18-year-old young man showed up the following Sunday afternoon, he stepped into the bullpen and after about five minutes of getting loose was hitting the radar gun at about 88 miles per hour.
“I’ll take him,” Walsh said.
What followed was one of the best seasons in Barnstable Senior Babe Ruth history as Rogers joined a remarkably gifted team of Barnstable High School and private school standouts that included seven collegiate players. Rogers ended the campaign at 5-1 with a miniscule 0.64 earned run average in 40 innings pitched and a spot on the prestigious Cape Cod Senior Babe Ruth All-Star team that hosted the New England Regionals later that summer at BFC Whitehouse Field in Harwich. Rogers’ sole loss was a 1-0 loss to Lower Cape on an unearned run.
Rogers would go on from that summer to become a walk-on at Stetson University and was third in the nation in innings pitched as the top Division I program’s go-to guy from the bullpen. He would then go on to pitch for the Cotuit Kettleers and former field manager Mike Coutts.
Rogers’ first two relief appearances for Cotuit in the summer of 1995 (or 1996?) went exceptionally well before arm trouble brought the hard-throwing righty’s career to an abrupt end, but it was not before the Cotuit native had the chance to to pitch from the exact same pitcher’s mound his grandfather, Copie Rogers, had pitched from for 14 seasons in the Cape Cod Baseball League in the late 1940s through the 1950s. Copie Rogers was, back in the Golden Era of the Cape Cod Baseball League, deemed the best pitcher in the history of the league.
And to think, Chris grew up in a quaint Cape Cod cottage just a stone’s throw down the street from Elizabeth Lowell Park , right smack dab on Main Street , Cotuit.
And on July 4, recently, Rogers and his former Coach Walsh reunited at Lowell Park for the first time in 15 years as the two battled it out in the Cotuit Kettleers Fourth of July Annual Hitting Contest.
Walsh thought he had the contest victory wrapped up as he belted one 384 feet to centerfield, but Rogers took another turn at bat and tied the mark, setting up an impromptu playoff contest in the searing heat and humidity of the holiday weekend.Rogers ended up hitting one 353 feet while Walsh wilted with a 344 foot shot. Rogers was crowned the Champion for the second time to Walsh’s one previous title.
“Of course I went straight into the doghouse for skipping a family barbecue to go into the contest,” Walsh said. “But I couldn’t resist the chance to see one of my former all-time favorite players again. I didn’t envision having to battle it out with him for the championship, but it was worth every minute. I love Chris and he has come a long way as a young man and I am proud of him.”
Following his collegiate baseball career at Stetson University , Rogers went on to become a firefighter in Florida , moving back to his hometown, Barnstable , with his wife and two babies last year when he took a position as a firefighter/EMT with the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire Department.
Walsh went on to work in the front office of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League as its director of public relations while serving as a newspaper editor for the Memorial Press Group in Plymouth, while also serving as the Cape League’s first-ever official photographer and web editor. He later became general manager of the Bourne Braves and led the franchise to the CCBL’s Western Division championship title before joining the Cotuit Athletic Association and becoming the organization’s Facilities and Public Relations Director.