by Roy Reiss
May 1, 2017
Welcome Back, Coach Roberts
It won’t be long before the sounds of baseball are heard all around the beautiful hamlet of Cotuit. The catchy lyrics of Hey, Hey Cotuit will blare on the public address system of Lowell Park, the aroma of BBQ hot dogs will fill the air, the excitement of the best college baseball players in America will once again captivate our interest, and on the top step of the dugout will once again be Number 5, Mike Roberts peering out at the action. The head coach of the Kettleers took some time recently to talk about the upcoming season.
Mike, what are a few of your thoughts as you get set to enter your 14th year with the Kettleers?
I approach each Kettleers season with my mind and heart racing with passion and enthusiasm for the Kettleers Organization, the village of Cotuit along with surrounding communities. Each summer brings new opportunities to work with and mentor the college students (athletes, interns, and auxiliary support personnel) plus the hundreds of young Kettleers campers who bring so many smiles to Lowell Park each summer. I am honored to continue to have this leadership platform as head coach of the Cotuit Kettleers.
I think about our wonderful fans during the winter and stay in touch with many. It warms my heart when I drive over the Cape Cod Canal and soon turn down Main Street in Cotuit and begin to see villagers wearing Kettleers hats and t-shirts. Then, hour by hour and day after day, cars are pulling into picturesque Lowell Park and fans are waving hello and saying “welcome back for another season” to the coaches and volunteers who are in baseball terminology ‘spit shining’ the park. I think about the 2017 Kettleers team members and coaches competing and winning the final championship game in beautiful Lowell Park. I am constantly reminding myself to cherish each of our 22+ homes games each summer. When the national anthem is sung by many local talented musicians, I look at the gorgeous surrounding and reflect on the ambiance, the history of the league, and specifically the people who have come before us to build the Cotuit Kettleers organization.
Our GM, Bruce Murphy, and I work on the upcoming team all off season. We look forward to each young man arriving. I think very hard and long about these young men and ask myself “are we bringing the right and best young people who happen to be good baseball players at their respective schools to live in our host families homes.” For 2017, I think and believe these student-athletes will wear Kettleers uniforms with great humility but also with a fantastic competitive spirit our fans will enjoy.
Soon, it will be time to make my annual 14-hour drive from North Carolina. I can’t wait to crank up the engine. Just as the Red Sox truck leaves for Florida to the South for spring training. I leave for the northern tier of our great country and the beautiful waters of Cotuit Bay.
What are some of your favorite memories of Kettleers seasons?
Individual Player Accomplishments:
2006: Watching Justin Smoak play 1B so beautifully and lead the league in home runs as a Freshman from South Carolina and becoming the League MVP.
2008: Nick Hernandez, a temporary pitcher from Univ. of Tennessee, becoming the team leader of a team that played in the final championship series.
2010: Mike Yastrzemski, Devon Marrero, James McCann and Nick Tropeano’s competitive spirit on a championship team. James McCann would sit in the dugout for 15-20 minutes after a game with his gear on reflecting on how he called a game. That was so inspiring to teammates and coaching staff.
2012: Tony Kemp, his great speed on the base paths and quick hands at the plate, and smiling all the time as he helped lead a team to 30 wins in a 44 game season.
2013: Brad Zimmer & Danny Diekroeger’s incredible plays vs. Orleans to win another Cape Championship.
2008, 2009, 2010 Playing in the three straight final championship series.
2012: having the best record in the league
2010 & 2013: Watching Mr. Mycock hold up the championship trophy, with his name on it, and celebrate with our world class fans, the Cape League Championship.
What are some of the most difficult things you face in building a team to compete in the CCBL?
- Always being concerned about who will actually physically show up that summer to play. And if they do travel to the Cape, did they come to play around off the field instead of coming to leave a strong “Legacy” on the field.
- Coaches and the athletes today and their support people many times want a commitment the athlete will play every day without really competing for that opportunity. Players need healthy competition on their own team for playing time not just competition versus other teams.
- Finding pitching that has some experience versus excellent competition, who can throw strikes, yet have a good enough repertoire of pitches to consistently get hitters out.
- Keeping the entire team physically in the League until the last pitch of the final game. Too many players today opt out during the season.
You always say you won’t know about your team until July, why is that?
Several years ago, the NCAA moved the spring playoff dates later into the summer. This has pushed many quality athletes from arriving until late June or even early July. Especially those who play in Omaha in the College World Series or who try out for the USA team in late June. Hence, it makes it difficult many summers to have your complete team on the field until these events are completed. Then, at that point when all have arrived, a coach can finally begin to build a complete team not just physically but also around mental skills and leadership abilities.
If you could tell the Kettleers fans one thing, what would it be?
Thank you for the tremendous love and loyal support they have given me personally and to our teams the past 13 seasons.
What do you love about the Kettleers?
The incredible “tradition” that has been built thru the years by and for this team/organization. TRADITION is a very important word for me and for many people in the sports world. I also work for the Chicago Cubs. The “C” on the hat of the Cotuit Kettleers and Chicago Cubs is World-Class “TRADITION” at its finest and recognized all over the baseball world.
I love hearing the wonderful people of the Norman Rockwell like “Village” of Cotuit say “The Kettleers make my summers & are my summer entertainment.” I hear this all the time each season.
Playing at Lowell Park. The Kettleers home park is as ESPN has stated “The NEW Field of Dreams.”
Fill out the sentence: Lowell Park is …
“The Backyard Dream of a small town ball park that I always dreamed of playing and coaching when I was a child.”
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.