ONE ON ONE: A Case for the Cape League Hall of Fame

"One On One" Sean Walsh Capecod.com Sports Editor

“One On One”
Sean Walsh
Capecod.com
Sports Editor

There’s an incredibly priceless sense of renewal and hope and joy each summer when the latest collegiate baseball stars from across the country suit up in uniforms for teams like the Wareham Gatemen and the Cotuit Kettleers and the Orleans Firebirds and the Brewster Whitecaps.

Ezra Pound once said that the secret to success in most things was, simply, “to make it new.”

That’s the beauty of the Cape Cod Baseball League: it is baseball in its purest form, always new, always top notch, always with a new slate of 250 or so of our nation’s top young amateur college stars.

There were some people over 50 years ago who were heavily involved in the construction of the Cape League as we know it today. Arnold Mycock, inducted in the first Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame class in 2000 and the icon of the Cotuit Kettleers, was one of those people in 1962 who sat down with Major League Baseball and the NCAA and created a baseball league that was borne from a healthy mix of local stars and college boys and transmuted into the strict collegiate showcase it is today.

That vision, that iconic transformation, took place with the aid of such people like the late Manny Robello (1920-1986).

Manny Robello (1920-1986) : One of the "Original Cotuit Kettleers" Photo courtesy of The Campbell Family

Manny Robello (1920-1986) : One of the “Original Cotuit Kettleers”
Photo courtesy of The Campbell Family

Robello, the son of Portuguese immigrants, played for the Cotuit Kettleers in the franchise’s first season under that name in 1947. A World War II veteran of the United States Army Air Corps, Robello returned from overseas where his older brother John Robello was killed in action, and helped his future best friend Mycock form the Kettleers organization and together the two invested their entire beings into making “The Cape League” the very best baseball league it could possibly be. Victor Robello, Manny’s twin brother, was the first head coach of the Cotuit Kettleers in 1947, serving as a player coach. Arnold Mycock, back then, was the team’s secretary and treasurer and would even catch in the bullpen when need be. Manny was the team’s first baseman.

Every single person in the Robello family, arguably, was invested into the Cotuit Kettleers and the Cape Cod Baseball League. From the moment Robello suited up in a wool flannel Cotuit uniform in 1947 with his twin brother as head coach, to the time of his death in 1986, the Robellos along with their patriarch  bled the crimson of the hometown team. Robello eventually served as general manager of the Cotuit Kettleers… he served as president of the Cotuit Athletic Association… he served as a director of the Cape Cod Baseball League itself and was integral with league administration until the time of his death.

Twelve of the 16 Cotuit Kettleers’ league-record championship titles came with the aid of Robello either at the helm or very near to it.

So deeply respected was Manny Robello that the Cape League’s vaunted 10th Player Award was named in 1996 in his honor. The award has been given to such Cape League superstars as Nomar Garciaparra… the San Francisco Giants’ Justin Maxwell… Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan… Toronto Blue Jays’ shortstop Cliff Pennington.

Yet in all the 15 classes inducted already into the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame, Robello’s name – and incredible lifetime of 40 years devoted to making the league the premier collegiate amateur league it is today – has not made the cut.

The recipient in 1939 of the vaunted Jean G. Hinkle Memorial Athletic Trophy at Barnstable High School – at the time the most prestigious award given to any Barnstable High School student-athlete – as well as a three-time letterman in football and baseball for the Red Raiders prior to his post-high school career playing Cape League baseball and football for the Barnstable Townies, Robello’s name could very easily fall into the cobwebs of yesteryear, long forgotten from the tips of Cape sports’ fans tongues.

back row: Manny Robello, Jim Hubbard, Bernie Kilroy, Connie Denault, Ron Griesmer, Mike Strode, Jack McCarthy, Dick Mayo, Keith Weber, Arnold Mycock front row: Ken Huebner, Bob Butkus, Dick McAvoy, Steve Syriala, Jimmy Murray, Jeff Scudder, Matty Galante, Joe Russo

The 1964 Cotuit Kettleers, 33-3: (back row, L to R) Manny Robello, Jim Hubbard, Bernie Kilroy, Connie Denault, Ron Griesmer, Mike Strode, Jack McCarthy, Dick Mayo, Keith Weber, Arnold Mycock
front row: Ken Huebner, Bob Butkus, Dick McAvoy, Steve Syriala, Jimmy Murray, Jeff Scudder, Matty Galante, Joe Russo.

 

But when the late Dick Sullivan announced the establishment of the Manny Robello 10th Player Award nearly two decades ago, it was for a specific reason, more so than Robello was just another in the long and invaluable stream of volunteers who make the Cape League what it really is today.

When Robello passed away in 1986 at the age of 65, Cape Cod Standard Times sportswriter Jim Fennel wrote an extended obituary about the “original Kettleer.” Quoting former Notre Dame University head baseball coach and then Cotuit Kettleers assistant coach Larry Gallo. Gallo said “It’s really a heck of a loss to Cotuit and the league. It’ll never be the same.”

Robello had invested his soul into not merely the Cotuit Kettleers’ franchise, but more so he shared with Arnold Mycock the vision to make the Cape League what it has become today.

A legendary proponent of all things that were and still are Barnstable sports, but just as much a driving force behind all things that are “Cape Cod” sports and the vaunted Cape Cod Baseball League, long overdue is the announcement that Manny Robello’s name is permanently enshrined alongside the very same people who served under him, or with him, or whom shared his vision for the future.

Manny Robello and Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Famer Jim Hubbard.

Manny Robello and Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Famer Jim Hubbard.

This week’s edition of the Cape Cod Chronicle weekly newspaper based in Chatham published a particularly germane editorial that commended the true core of the success of the Cape Cod Baseball League, all those people who take care of all of the tiny details that so often get overlooked but without which there would be no success story that is The Cape League.

This fall, the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame is taking a year off after inducting 15 classes. The deadline to nominate new inductees is in February 2016. Next fall at The Chatham Bars Inn, let’s hope the right decision is made to enshrine a man who not only once suited up in the everyday lineup of the greatest franchise in the history of the Cape League, but more so helped make it possible that all of today’s stars get that chance as well and on the biggest, coolest and most fun stage there is.

— Capecod.com Sports Editor Sean Walsh’s column appears here each Friday, 50 times annually. Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm or email him at seanwalsh@ccb-media.com.

Comments

  1. Christine Robello says

    Sean,
    I wrote to you after your very touching article about Arnold, and now I’m speechless about the beautiful tribute to my dad. Although I don’t recall him ever being president of the league, he certainly did give his heart and soul to the Kettleers and CCBaseball League in many ways. Thank you for your efforts to ensure that his dedication is not forgotten.
    Chris Robello

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