By Roy Reiss
There’s a special bond that develops between a community like Cotuit and the many college players who matriculate to the Cape to participate in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League. And then there’s an extra special relationship that exists when the community discovers one of these young men is in need of assistance.
Flash back to the 2010 season when J.T. Taylor, a promising junior to be at the University of Georgia, donned the maroon Kettleers uniform. Truth be told he was a fringe player looking to utilize his outstanding speed and to become a part of what became a championship team. He appeared in just 13 games for the Kettleers but his presence and bubbly personality left an indelible mark on those who got to know him.
Life turned dramatically for Taylor the following spring when he collided with Georgia and Cotuit teammate Zach Cone in the outfield going after a fly ball. Cone got up, but Taylor remained down after the head-on collision. Unfortunately he’d be paralyzed and see his baseball dream end that March afternoon.
Fast forward to December 2013 when Taylor graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Family Science after majoring in Consumer Economics. After hours and hours of extremely difficult physical rehab and studying, the former Kettleer decided he wanted to continue his education with a post graduate program in the financial counseling area. However, finances would be an issue for Taylor and his family who had stayed in close contact with their Cotuit host family, Mark and Patty Fater.
Connect the dots to this heartwarming story and in January 2014 the Cotuit Athletic Association stepped up to the plate and made sure Taylor would have the financial capability to complete his graduate course.
For Taylor it was the opportunity to move closer to his ultimate goal in life, to help others financially. For the Kettleers faithful it was an opportunity to show their appreciation and love for someone who had come into their community and left a positive impression. It’s the ultimate win-win story and another example of what the CCBL and Cotuit Kettleers is really all about.
One of the real fun things is to follow the college careers of some of the 2013 Kettleers. A quick tour on the internet provides some real interesting nuggets and observations for those who watched last summer’s championship team. For example, the Georgia Bulldogs lineup has Jared Walsh leading off and playing 1st base with Hunter Cole manning the hot corner at 3rd base and batting second. With maybe a third of the season gone, Bradley Zimmer is having a sensational junior year at San Francisco. Zimmer is leading his team in batting with a .430 average and 6 home runs and looks like a sure fire first round selection in June’s draft. Let’s not forget one of my favorites, Double D, Danny Diekroegger who is leading off for Stanford and hitting .314. The interesting aspect about Diekroegger who played some 2nd, SS and mostly 3B for the Kettleers, is that he’s been Stanford’s permanent first baseman. Outfielder Mark Payton is leading the Texas Longhorns in batting thru 29 games with a .402 average but even more amazing is that he’s reached base safely in 68 straight games! Ole Miss’s pitching staff is bolstered by righty Chris Ellis who has started 7 games, amassed a 4-0 record with a sparkling 1.91 ERA. Washington State’s Yale Rosen has started all 25 games in the outfield for the Cougars and leads the team in hitting at .363. Remember all the consecutive games Nolan Clark caught in a row during last summer’s heat wave. Well the Captain is having a real steady senior year behind the plate at Concordia hitting a solid .316. However, the one player who really stands out is pitcher Joel Seddon at South Carolina. Seddon has been turned into the Gamecocks closer and has backboned their rise to the top ranked team in the country for most of the first part of the NCAA season. Seddon has appeared in 12 games, pitched 16 innings without allowing a run and a perfect 0.00 ERA. And his control has been almost as perfect with only 3 walks issued while striking out 23 in his 16 innings pitched. Always interesting to see how the players do after spending a summer at Lowell Park!
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.com.