by Sean Bailey
July 17, 2013
Game one of the Cotuit Kettleers 2013 season. Fans have been waiting for this moment since the last out was recorded at Lowell Park last August. The rosters are new, and the players are excited to get their first opportunity to play with new teammates, new coaches, and new fans. Butterflies are circling around nearly everybody’s stomachs. The start of a new season, new summer is finally here, and everyone is eager and excited. These first game jitters belong to everyone. But it is safe to say that nobody experienced their first game at Lowell Park the way that the Wiseman family did.
Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) was running out of the dugout, taking his place in left field. His family joined the packed bleachers on the third base side looking on. Every family is excited to watch their kids play. But for the Wisemans it is slightly different, because Rhett is not the only Wiseman who has taken left field at Lowell Park. His father Mike Wiseman (Brandeis) did that all throughout the 1988 season with the Kettleers.
The Cape League has seen its fair share of brother tandems don the same Cape uniforms. Cotuit has that this year with Drew Jackson (Stanford) following his older brother Brett Jackson (California Berkeley) here, after Brett played in 2008. However, there are not many father-son duos who slip on the same uniform here. And this family legacy is a sense of tremendous pride for the Wisemans.
“It is hard to explain what I was feeling when he took left field,” admitted Mike Wiseman. “My parents were here, and they were all sitting with big smiles on their faces, and I couldn’t put it into words. It’s something you can always think about, dream about. But to have your son do it, to see him run out there. I have been proud of him his whole life. But this just takes it to another level.”
For Rhett Cotuit Kettleer baseball has been there from the start of his life. The first ever baseball game he attended was at Lowell Park when he was seven years old. And even though he doesn’t remember many details from the day, nor was he alive to see his father take the field in Kettleers pinstripes, he is excited to play where his father did.
“It is great to follow in his footsteps. He is my biggest role model,” said Rhett. “He is awesome, the best. And it is special. It is tough to put into words. There are very few father-son combinations in Cape League history. There are emotions that are just tough to put into words.”
The Cape Cod League prides itself on being a family league. The Wisemans are definitely a different sort of family for the League. Both father and son hold high respect for the League, and both are big fans of it. And both are aware of the prestige of the best amateur summer league in America. Mike looks fondly back at his time as a Cape League player.
“The Cape is a special time,” said Mike. “These were the two best summers of my life. The friendships I made, with the guys I hung around with 24 hours a day 7 days a week, on and off the field. Fishing when we weren’t playing. There is nothing like playing in the Cape league. There is nothing like it. I want him to enjoy the experience.”
Rhett is fully aware of the prestige, and significance of the Cape League. The family vacationed on the Cape a lot when Rhett was growing up, and he remembers his feelings just watching the games.
“These games are special. I kind of grew up down here, and I remember coming to these as a kid, and idolizing the guys on the field,” said Rhett. “And now I am one of those guys. This is something I cherish, and don’t take advantage of.”
While the memories and significance of the League is not lost on the Wisemans, neither is the high level of competition the league offers. And for Mike the competition has only grown fiercer.
“Even though the Cotuit team I played on had three tremendous big leaguers Jeff Kent (California Berkley), Tim Salmon (Grand Canyon University), Tim Naehring (Miami University), the kids are just bigger, stronger than when I played,“ said Mike. “Every arm you see on the mound is throwing 88 miles per hour or faster. And all the kids can run.”
Rhett has shown he can hang with the talent down here as he has appeared in 26 games, hit .235, and driven in nine runs while stealing eight bases. All as a freshman, which makes him one of the youngest Kettleers. And in spite of his age he has amassed serious playing time. He also has higher hopes than just a great individual season. He is looking for a championship, which would be a first for a Wiseman in the Cape League.
“My goal is to win a championship down here,” said Rhett, “The whole team wants to do the same thing. We have a lot of talent, we just got to get there on the same page.”
Championship or not, Rhett and the rest of the Wisemans will be able to recount the summer of 2013 with pride. They have established quite the family legacy in Cotuit, on that plush left field grass at Lowell Park.