By Roy Reiss
August 23, 2013
What a wonderful way to end the 2013 season! How exciting was that playoff run and for that matter, the entire season. Along the way we saw and heard many interesting things that were stored away for a time like this.
- It’s always fun to kick off the season with the Kettleers Welcome Party and to watch the new players come up with skits that’ll entertain the home folks. No one did it better than Nolan Clark (Concordia) with his impersonation of Coach Mike Roberts. Little did Clark know what a vital role he’d play behind the plate for the Kettleers as the weeks rolled on. And by the end of the summer this temp player turned regular was referred to as “Captain Clark”.
- A lasting memory will always be the smile exchanged rounding 3rd base between Coach Roberts and Mike Ford (Princeton) after the latter slugged a home run in his first at bat before a slew of scouts on a Friday night in July. It came after 24 hours of tense negotiating for a major league free agent contract that was Ford’s dream. The player went on to knock in all 5 runs that night after going a perfect 4 for 4 at the plate. And following the dramatic performance Ford and his parents, Barbara and Bob, were back figuring out what was the best situation for him. Three days later he was signed to a Yankees contract and his exit from Lowell Park was just as memorable as he and his coach acknowledged the Kettleers fans appreciation.
Thomas Harris wasn’t just your average bat boy this summer. He took the job to the next level and nothing epitomized that more than one of the decisions he made. Seems that Thomas won 4 tickets to the Pawtucket Red Sox game in a 50-50 raffle. The Sandwich youngster chose the July 30th game to attend since the Kettleers had the day off. However, when a Kettleers scheduled game was rained out, the make up date was July 30th. Which would Thomas choose? Cotuit or Pawtucket? Easy decision as he worked all 44 regular season games and became a favorite of all the players. When the Cotuit Athletic Association was made aware of the situation, they made sure to get Thomas 4 more tickets to a future Pawtucket game.
- You always learn something when coming to Lowell Park. There was the Friday night game that was postponed at 3:30 or so due to rain. And there was Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco) in the batting cage as the rain pelted down around him. This is the same Bradley Zimmer who started the year with the Kettleers, went to Team USA and then came back to finish the season with Cotuit. It’s called dedication. Or early Friday morning after the pulsating playoff series clincher against Falmouth and there’s Coach Roberts in the batting cage with Jake Fincher (N.C.State) working on technique.
- If you’re looking for memorable at bats during the season, how about Hunter Cole (Georgia). The centerfielder provided two separate incidents that stand out. There was the 9th inning two run homer that tied the game against Harwich and two nights later against Bourne, Cole had perhaps the most courageous at bat of the season. After fouling off a pitch off his knee, Cole was on the ground for several minutes while being attended to by the training staff. Somehow he shrugged it off and managed to knock in a run with a single to right field while barely being able to run full steam to first base. Cole quickly exited the game for a pinch runner but who could forget how he battled and succeeded.
- As I’m walking toward my car one July night, there’s a family gathering in the parking lot. The mother calmly asks “tomorrow could you please keep calling my son “the Double D” because I want to record it on my recorder.” And so Danny Diekroegger, the quiet, steady youngster from Stanford who hadn’t played 3rd base since Little League will always be remembered as “The Double D”.
One of the lasting images of any summer is when former Kettleers return to Lowell Park and meet up with the legendary Arnold Mycock. There was CCBL Hall of Famer Paul O’Neill (1973) who said he always remembers what Arnold did for him during his time on the Cape. Then Mark Zaleski, the catcher from the 1981 team, paid a visit as the pair reminisced about his defensive excellence. Or Pat Varni (1988) and Howard Prager (1988) who traveled from Texas for the first time in 24 years to see Arnold and relive their past.
- It’s the 41st game of the season and during batting practice at Lowell Park Coach Mike Roberts politely asks for the music to be turned down on the public address system “while I’m teaching”. The team is going thru some different batting instruction after being shut out in 2 of the last 3 games. It’s situational hitting, but what stands out is that it’s early in August after a long and grueling season and the teaching never ends!
- A couple of other images stand out. There’s Jared Walsh (Georgia) delivering a key pinch hit double in a tense playoff game versus Falmouth and when reaching 2nd base, the pitcher/pinch hitter turns and salutes his bullpen mates in left field. There’s volunteer photog Joe Cavanaugh jogging from foul territory in left field to foul territory in right field, always looking for the perfect lens angle to capture the Kettleers action. Or after a pulsating Game 1 win in the Championship Series against Orleans, there’s Coach Roberts and his wife Nancy walking down Main Street as the sun sets in the now quiet August evening.
- Some personal thoughts after another memorable season. Really going to miss Rich, Doug, Greg and all the workers at the Kettleers Kitchen. Those early afternoon visits and pre game meals were simply special….Speaking of special, how about the good times in the announce booth with interns Billy, Dave, Chris, Peter, and John on the scoreboard along with Paul, Ashley, Steve and all the other official scorers over the 26 games at Lowell Park…. Don’t think I’ve ever seen harder workers than the Kettleers coaches, especially Brian Scott who personifies what it is to be a loyal assistant….Just hope to be around when Gabrielle Chevalier sings the National Anthem…..All the wonderful people you meet along the way both pre and post game that is so much a part of the overall wonderful experience of being at the Kettleers games at Lowell Park.
- Quote of the Year…..It’s the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 2 of the Championship Series in Orleans, the bases are loaded with no outs, Kettleers leading 2-0, and Coach Roberts signals to the bullpen for reliever Wesley Cox to enter the game. As Cox surveys the scene at packed Eldridge Field and makes his way out of the bullpen, he stops and says “Oh my God!”
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.