by Joe Cavanaugh
The Joys of a Summer Son
The experience of being a Cotuit Kettleers host family is simply amazing. We decided to host a player in 2013. We were new to hosting, and had almost no idea what to expect. In early June, we received a telephone call identifying our player, and then an email from the Kettleers organization that included a bio sheet about him. It told us where he went to school, his player position and about his hometown, as well as personal information regarding his favorite food, favorite athlete and movie, and whether he had any allergies. I took photographs of our home and sent them in an introductory email to him just a few days before he arrived. We received a warm response, but were somewhat anxious about having a person we had never met live with us for a summer.
A day or two later, we received a phone call from our player who was just a few minutes from our house. We turned on all the outside lighting and waited excitedly for his arrival. Once he arrived, we got him situated in his bedroom and told him to come down for dinner when he was ready. During our meal, we talked a lot about the team, and did our best to share what he should expect in Cotuit, and what the Cape Cod Baseball League was like. It would be the first of many wonderful dinners we enjoyed that summer.
As the season began, we attended games at beautiful Lowell Park, and across the Cape, to support our player. Through him, we got to know many of the other players on the Kettleers squad. That drew us closer to the team and, in a palpable way, made us almost feel part of the team.
We grew extremely close to our player over the summer. The Cape League schedule is demanding, so there is precious little time to enjoy non-baseball activities. We took full advantage of off-days and made the effort to hit the beaches, go golfing, and explore the Cape.
As the calendar turned to August, our player had become like another son to us. It was thrilling to support a young man chasing his childhood dream to become a professional baseball player. August, however, brought the realization that summers don’t last forever, and our time with him was winding down.
On the last night together, we all went out to dinner at the Chart Room in Cataumet. During dinner, I told our player that I had written out a top-10 list of the most enjoyable, funny moments from the summer. When I got to the number one memory of 2013, I asked our player if he wanted to take a guess as to what it might be.
His response was immediate, “Dinners with the fam.” I turned my list around, and showed everyone that number one on my list was, indeed, “Dinners with the family.”
The next morning, it was time to say good-bye. After breakfast, we walked him to the front door, got his car loaded and just cried.
This young man brought such joy and happiness into our home for ten weeks. Despite the sadness we felt when he left, our family agreed that if we had the chance, we would do it again because it was so much fun and, in 2014, we did!
The friendship that we made with our player will last a lifetime and we continue to stay in touch. Hosting a Kettleers player confirmed something about volunteering that I learned many years ago: When you volunteer, you get back more than you give.