HYANNIS – There they were. Ballplayers. Right there. Real, live ballplayers from the Cape Cod Baseball League were at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa on Tuesday. “It’s really cool,” said Chase Novota, 7, of Harwich. “They get to sign my ball.”
And Alex Arabadzhiev, 9 of Barnstable, said, “It would be like totally fun to get an autograph of a player going to the major leagues.”
Tuesday’s event was called Cape Cod Baseball Day, a chance for players and fans to do a sort of meet and greet, said Judy Walden Scarafile, president of Cape Cod Baseball League.
Barbara Perry, concierge at Cape Codder Resort Hotel and Spa, came up with the idea of Cape Cod Baseball day three years ago. She said the players are, “The nicest, friendliest most polite guys I’ve ever met.” The idea of the the meet and greet, she said, was “Some of the people can’t get to the games. Here, you get to see the baseball players before they get on TV and become stars.”
Amy Menard, of Harwich, who is Chase Novoto’s nanny, said she brought him to the event, because, “This is a great way for him to meet role models, good young men who work hard.”
An event like this is just another thing that makes the Cape League so special, even compared to the major leagues, said Scarafile. “It’s pretty hard to get autographs at Fenway Park.” said Scarafile. “It’s good for the players, the kids, the adults, and the young ladies don’t mind it either.”
Eric Nyquist of Alpharetta, Georgia, a pitcher for the Bourne Braves, said, “People come out and support us every day. Being here signing autographs is not a big deal at all. These guys look up to us.” Nyquist plays for Mercer College.
His teammate in Bourne, Andrew Sopko, of Missoula, Montana, a pitcher from Gonzaga University, said, “It’s important to interact with the kids. They think we’re going to be big-time athletes, which we’re trying to be.”
And another Bourne teammate, Travis Bergen of McDonough Georgia, a pitcher from Kennesaw State, said the day was an opportunity to relax in a summer that is filled with tension for all the players. “It’s a good bit of pressure,” he said of playing in the Cape League. “It’s the best competition, and every game somebody is watching. This summer is going to have a lot to do with our professional careers.”
Scarafile said the competition is intense, and the day of players sitting side by side was inspirational. “The fun thing for me is, for instance, seeing the Orleans kids sitting next to the Brewster kids even though they’re very competitive on the field,” she said.
As for which autographs to get, Scarafile had only one piece of advice, which she quietly shared. “A baseball with one signature has greater value than one with multiple signatures.”
And as for which one of these players might become a star, she said, “You might have a better handle on it in August.”
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— Brian Tarcy