At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Monday, November 14, 2005

Not a Dry Eye in the Place: New Cape League Hall of Famers Open their Hearts Upon Induction

The Cape Cod Baseball League inducted the sixth class and into its Hall of Fame on Saturday, and the acceptance speeches were so emotional that nary a guest in attendance was left untouched. Jake Pena started the sentimental ball rolling with a stirring tribute to his late father Manny, who was a catcher, manager, and umpire in the league for nearly 40 years, and current Oakland A’s outfielder Bobby Kielty brought the induction proceedings to a close by choking back a few tears of his own as he thanked his wife for her years of support. And in between, the emotions flowed nonstop, as the honorees expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to have been part of the Cape League community.

The event itself was mounted with its usual class and style at the Chatham Bars Inn, and a packed house listened with rapt attention as the inductees at times struggled to maintain their composure and spun delightful yarns about their experiences both on and off the field. The master of ceremonies again was Scott Wahle of WBZ-TV4, whose broadcasting roots reach back onto the Cape and whose good nature served him well when he was teased from the podium by PawSox owner Ben Mondor about the proper pronunciation of the word “Pawtucket.”

The Red Sox moment of the day was offered up the inductee Mickey Morandini, whose stellar play for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in 1987 brought him to this day. Morandini had a highly productive major league career, primarily with the Philadelphia Phillies, where he played under current Sox manager Terry Francona and with current Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. According to Morandini, the Phillies were in Cincinnati, where every home team home run was greeted by a display of fireworks. On this particular day, Schilling was on the mound and was having a tough outing. After giving up successive homers and witnessing the impressive light show that followed each one, Schilling took a moment to compose himself and was surprised to find Francona standing on the rubber when he returned to the mound. “Get back to the dugout where you belong,” Morandini remembers Schilling saying. “I know I’m having a rough day, and there is nothing you can tell me that will make it better!” Francona apparently didn’t miss a beat, and with a calm he no doubt didn’t feel simply replied, “I’m not here to tell you anything; I just wanted to give the fireworks guy a chance to reload!”

Today’s Cape Cod Times today has a nice story about the Hall of Fame event, which is held annually in the fall and is well worth the price of admission. I view it as one of the highlights of the Cape League season, and I encourage anyone with a passion for the game to attend. Just be sure to bring along some tissues, for it turns out that there is crying in baseball after all!

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