By Roy Reiss
August 15, 2012
Memories. Over the course of the long CCBL season, you store away memories of things that happened, key moments, things that you witnessed that you don’t forget. Reflecting back on a wonderful summer of baseball, these are just some of the memories that stand out to this reporter as we relive the Kettleers 2012 campaign.
- We start with a beautiful August morning in 2011 after the Kettleers wrapped up a disappointing season and finished in last place in the West. Coach Mike Roberts spoke openly in the first base stands at Lowell Park with several members of the Cotuit Athletic Association about what went wrong and how difficult the 2011 season was. The main thrust was that there were too many freshman on the 2011 roster who simply didn’t get what it takes to work hard and develop team chemistry. The 2012 roster wouldn’t make the same mistake as they’d look for mostly sophomores with a sprinkling of freshman. When 2012 arrived there were only 5 freshmen who made the final 30 man roster of the Kettleers. The foundation had been laid back in August 2011!
- It was Saturday, June 23rd, hot and sticky, and there on the steps of the Kettleers Kitchen sat Coach Roberts with pitcher Dusty Isaacs (Georgia Tech). The youngster had been mostly ineffective in his few relief efforts up to this point and confidence as well as a role on the team was obviously a factor as they talked. Roberts told Isaacs that it was a long season and many things can happen as long as you stick with it. This was a time when a coach could have lost a player if they hadn’t had the proper communication. From that point on Isaacs turned his season around and finished with a flourish, nothing more impressive than his 6 inning two hit relief effort against Hyannis in a 14 inning marathon game in late July or perhaps his brilliant 7 inning effort in the season finale versus Bourne. That little tête-à-tête on the steps was coaching at the highest level.
We move to Monday, July 2nd and the Kettleers have just defeated Bourne for the 2nd straight night in dramatic fashion. I happened to be walking through the parking lot with #26 Bill Bereszniewicz (Binghamton) a longshot temporary player who had just been informed he was being released. It’s not an easy moment, yet Billy B. said emphatically that he was told there was a chance he’d be back with the Kettleers and to stay ready. The Sudbury native did just that as he showed up every day, shagged fly balls in batting practice, helped with whatever was required and just tried to be a part of the team without being on the roster. That’s not an easy task for any 20 year old, but two and a half weeks later, Billy B. signed a permanent contract. It’s nice to know good things happen to people who stick with it.
- It’s Sunday July 8th and the Kettleers are honoring a legend, Arnold Mycock for his 63 wonderful, glorious years of service. The ceremony is short and so tastefully done. The humble Mycock is so appreciative yet you sense he simply wants this honor to be over with. You wish you could relive the ceremony forever, and then you read Joe Cavanaugh’s superb recap and you realize just what a special day this was. If you missed Cavanaugh’s effort, here’s the link which is worth your time. Enjoy reading it here.
- The sun is shining brightly at Lowell Park and it’s quiet. The players have yet to arrive but down in the bullpen in left field there are two figures playing catch. One is coach Mike Roberts, the other starting pitcher Kyle Finnegan (Texas State). This is a bullpen session extraordinaire. Roberts is going over methods of throwing a changeup and asking Finnegan which is most comfortable for him. They settle on the 4th choice, the grip used by old time Pirate Roy Face. Each time Finnegan smiles when he throws the changeup to Roberts who has a catcher’s mask on and his trusty catcher’s mitt as he kneels behind the bullpen home plate. Then comes a few suggestions on how Finnegan can get his fastball to tail away from right handed batters. More smiles. Finally an adjustment on how to get that fastball to move on left handed batters. Again more smiles. 30 minutes of high level pitching techniques. A few days later Finnegan has a full count on an opposing batter and 3 straight times he goes to his new changeup to finally get the out. He’s developed a trust in a new pitch, and you can’t help but think back to that bullpen session. That was coaching at a very high level!
- The game is over on this Friday night in July and home plate umpire Charlie Campbell is taking off his gear in the Lowell Park parking area. He’s marveling at what he just saw from behind the plate, an 11 pitch, three strike out, ninth inning save by Cotuit closer Dan Slania to preserve a tense 2-1 win over the Chatham Anglers. Campbell says each strike was perfectly painted on the corner. He was expecting the ball to dip or do something, but he was so taken back by the perfect location of each pitch that he was late giving the strike signal. He wondered if anyone in the crowd could notice his hesitation. Guess you might say even umpires are human when they witness something very special on the baseball diamond.
- A late July afternoon finds the Cotuit infielders and outfielders all enjoying a quick lunch down the left field line around a picnic table while the pitchers are stretching under the watchful eye of coach Sarah Money. The first pitch is several hours away and suddenly the laughter starts and doesn’t stop. Fifteen positional players from different parts of the country thrust together in Cotuit coming together as a team, enjoying each other, having fun, and staying loose. It’s the height of team building and that all elusive word called chemistry. Just a wonderful thing to witness.
- The eyes are moist, some even have tears rolling down their face. The season has just ended and reality has set in. It’s the end to a glorious summer of baseball and it’s time for good byes. The friendships built over the past 10 weeks will remain forever and probably grow stronger, but this team will never be together again. They’ll be heading their separate ways, back to school, pursuing the dream of a major league contract, yet always remembering what transpired on and off the baseball diamond in this little village called Cotuit in the summer of 2012.
- From a personal standpoint there’s just something special when the Kettleers honor some of their former stars like Jack Mederois who played on 2 championship teams in the early sixties, Ron Beaurivage from the championship 1973 team, or coach Mike Coutts who won 2 championships in the late 1990’s. The tradition of the Kettleers is unique and moments like these resonate with the large Cotuit fan base. And who can ever forget all those memorable moments when 6 year old Gabrielle Chevalier swept the admiring fans away with her rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame during those many 7th inning stretches. It won’t be long before Gabrielle will be singing the National Anthem at the storied ballpark! Finally some fun times with all the laughs and great camaraderie in the press box between official scorekeeper Paul Caldor and scoreboard operator Alex Baker. Yes the summer of 2012 was really a very special time!
Kettleers Korner 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 ESPNBoston.