The Cape Cod Baseball League isn’t widely known across baseball, but Yankees fans should still appreciate the impact it has had on the franchise.
For hardcore baseball fans, Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a bucket list vacation destination. You get all the benefits of a coastal summer trip with the bonus of America’s premier amateur baseball league. But even though it’s located in the heart of New England, Yankees fans should still appreciate it.
The Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) is made up of ten teams that play a 44-game regular season and a postseason consisting of three-rounds of best-of-three series. The invite-only league is made up of the best college players in the country. It allows wooden bats and attracts tons of scouts. When your sitting in the stands there is truly a feeling that one of these kids can be the next Aaron Judge.
In fact, it was just eight summers ago, back in 2012, when Judge himself led CCBL’s Brewster Whitecaps with 5 homers. Over 32 games with the Whitecaps Judge drove in 16, scored 18, and batted .270.
The Cape League is a true slice of Americana. Teams play on town and school fields and players live with local families who open their doors as host parents while the young athletes play ball and work a summer job. It creates an indescribable sense of community. Host parents cheer on their house guests and players spend a few mornings each week putting on a baseball clinic for the kids in the town.
But because of COVID-19, we won’t see the Cape League until summer 2021. And based on recent history, this could very well be a detriment to the future of Yankee talent.
Damon Oppenheimer, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Yankees, is a huge proponent of the league. “The Cape Cod League is really important to our evaluation,” he said back in 2010. “It is generally the better college players in the country playing on a daily basis and using wood, so it gives us an accurate depiction of what the player will represent.”
The Yankees current roster consists of 7 CCBL Alumni: Chad Green (Bourne Braves, 2011), J.A. Happ (Harwich Mariners, 2003), Jonathan Holder (Wareham Gatemen, 2012), Luke Voit (Harwich Mariners, 2011), Matt Duffy (Orleans Firebirds, 2011), Tommy Kahnle (Orleans Firebirds, 2009) and Judge.
Former Yankees such as Adam Warren (Brewster Whitecaps, 2000), Andrew Miller (Chatham Anglers, 2004), Chase Headley (Cotuit Kettleers, 2004), David Robertson (Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, 2006), Jacoby Ellsbury (Falmouth Commodores, 2004), Joe Girardi (Cotuit Kettleers, 1984), John Flaherty (Harwich Mariners, 1987), Mark Teixeira (Orleans Firebirds, 1999), Nick Swisher (Wareham Gatemen, 2000) and Todd Frazier (Chatham Anglers, 2005-06) all suited up for summer ball on the Cape.
2020 will be the first summer since World War II without the Cape Cod Baseball League. The Yankees are certainly hoping for a return to full action next June. A return would not only mean the demise of COVID-19 but also the return of the league’s most prosperous pipeline.