By Zach Kaplan
Penn State University
August 14, 2018
COTUIT– As Michael Salvatore (Florida State) stepped into the batter’s box for a recent game at Lowell Park, familiar voices could be heard behind him in the home plate area.
“Let’s go, Mike, have a hit!”, said Peter Flaherty, father of three and a Cotuit fan for decades.
“C’mon Salvy!” offers his son, Matthew Flaherty, 12, who might be one of the most well-known 12-year-olds across the Cape League, if not many of the summer baseball leagues around the country.
Just on the other side of home plate sits his son, also named Peter, 19, as he operates the Trackman device at Lowell Park, which helps track each pitch for velocity and spin rate, amongst other metrics, information that proves quite useful for scouts, coaches and players alike.
Standing nearby, Will, 17, quietly takes in the game as well as he watches Salvatore at bat.
The Flahertys have been frequent attendees of the Kettleers for nearly two decades, and the younger Peter can’t remember a summer that they haven’t spent in Cotuit.
“We’ve been coming down here since Peter was born (1998). He would go to the field even as an infant. We ended up having three sons, so it was a natural place to go. He’s loved them for as long as he can remember.”
A generational tradition turned into passionate fandom
For multitudes of Cape-goers in the summer, spending time at the local beaches, ice cream parlors, and mini golf courses that polka-dot Cape Cod is a summer pasttime that spans generations.
As for the Flahertys, they choose to spend their summer days at Lowell Park, as well as nearly all of the road games that the Kettleers play across the Cape on a daily basis.
“It started with Peter’s grandparents. They were the first to come to Cotuit, and they’ve been here for a long time. It was a natural place for us to come in the summer,” said Flaherty.
“They would come all the time, and their uncles would come as well. That’s how it became part of the family tradition.”
Along the way, Peter, Will, and Matthew all became more involved with the team. They began to spend time at Lowell Park seemingly on a daily basis.
“That started probably when Matthew was, maybe six or seven years old,” said the elder Peter. “Probably when Matthew was first eligible to go to [Kettleers] camp. Pete would try to go to the park as early as he could.”
From there, the Flahertys began to know the players. They spend time with them at the field, getting to know them not just as ballplayers, but as people.
“That was basically their destination from when they woke up, and they stay now until the final tarps are put on after the game,” said Flaherty.
The boys have all remained close with numerous players over the years, staying in touch with them even after their time in Cotuit, as they rise through the ranks of minor league baseball.
For the elder Peter, the importance of spending time at Lowell Park is the family experience of it. As a life-long baseball fan, and a former player himself at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, he knows the impact it can have on a father-son relationship.
“My favorite memories as a fan are just coming to the game, and enjoying it with my three sons,” said Flaherty.
“Its a dream come true to be able to come and spend time with my kids. I’m a baseball guy, so to be able to share baseball memories with my three sons, I don’t think it gets better than that. My idea of ‘heaven on earth’ is standing at Lowell Park with my 3 sons listening to the National Anthem right before the start of a Kettleers game.”
While he remains busy throughout the year, Peter makes a point of attending every Kettleers game that he can make. That includes driving from his year-round home in Belmont to Cotuit in the summer. Its not an easy feat, but one that he strives to make possible.
“I try my very best to schedule everything around my sons,” said Flaherty. “To have these summertime memories be so special, I try to prioritize those. It can be quite a challenge to make everything work.”
Impact on Kettleers felt by many involved with team
Sure, its one thing to be a passionate fan of the team. There are numerous fans that like to attend as many games as possible, home and away. But what sets the Flahertys apart is their ability to connect with the players, and the two most important men on the baseball side of the organization: manager Mike Roberts and general manager Bruce Murphy.
“Oh wow, their contributions are so multiple. What it means to me is family,” said Roberts.
“They’re family to me. I show up every day and the rest of the family shows up. Its just marvelous. If I need to bark at Matthew for not chasing a ball, I bark at him.”
Roberts commended the family on just how many hours they’ve spent both at Lowell Park and at games across Cape Cod, as well as their contributions to the family atmosphere of Cotuit.
“This is how the village of Cotuit works,” said Roberts. “I’ve had many young men come through over the years, but I think the Flaherty family is probably the only family that has come close to spending the amount of hours at the ballpark that I have.”
“Thats the reason I tell people that this is home for me,” he continued. “Because I come here and I see the Flahertys and the other families that spend a lot of time here, but the Flaherty family for me, I feel like Ive watched their children grow up. I’d be remiss not to mention that their father does so many things behind the scenes to help all of us that I don’t even know where to start.”
He even went a step further, complementing Matthew on his pitching ability as Roberts hopes to see him pitch on the Cape someday.
“Matthew Flaherty is going to be a left-handed pitcher, and he’s going to end up on this mound someday and he will fluster everybody out there,” said Roberts. “One of these days, he’s gonna end up right on that mound just like Luke Chevalier (Cotuit native) and I hope I’m alive to see that.”
It definitely works as a mutually beneficial relationship, as the baseball example that Roberts has set in Cotuit seems to rub off on the Flaherty clan, something that Peter loves to see.
“I especially love Matthew being able to spend so much time with Coach Roberts,” said Flaherty via email. “He is one of the finest gentleman and shaper of young men I have ever known. He is every bit as much of a character guy as he is a baseball guy.
As for GM Bruce Murphy, he cited the emotional aspect of their contributions to the team, with regard to how they make players feel welcome in Cotuit, whether temporary or permanent.
“They’re just so emotionally involved,” said Murphy. “They bring so much energy to the park, both home and away. All three kids are involved, and Matthew is one of the loudest fans that we have around here. Just to watch them grow up around here and mature each year has been terrific.”
“Last year, I added Peter as one of our GM interns and working with him year-round has been terrific,” added Murphy.
“I think the players develop a friendship with them based on just seeing them as a friendly face every day, and they know that they care about them personally, and it helps them to feel part of the community here.”
As the Cape League and the Kettleers turn their attention to the 2019 season, it seems that one thing is a given.
The Flahertys will be there, at Lowell Park along the first-base line adjacent to the visitor’s on-deck circle, and on the road, wherever the Kettleers travel.
While players and coaches come and go through the revolving door that can be summer baseball, the Flahertys are there to stay.