Our Cape League Experience as a Host Family and a MLB All-Star

Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley runs to first base on a two-run single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley runs to first base on a two-run single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Every summer, strapping young men from all over the United States come to the Cape to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League, considered the premier collegiate league in the nation.

Likewise, each summer hundreds of families volunteer their homes and extra bedrooms to these collegiate athletes as depicted in the famous movie “Summer Catch” minus the crazy cougar host mothers (we hope).

The Cape League offers families the unique opportunity to form relationships with their players that sometimes last a lifetime. For my family, it was this bond that kept us involved with the organization for over 10 years.

My family and I started hosting Cape League players when I was just three years old. We initially decided to do it because of my two older brothers’ love for baseball and the hope that it would bring young role models into their lives.

However, my parents never anticipated the wonderful relationships we would form over the years and the special memories we would make with each player.

During our time involved with the Cape League, we hosted players for the Cotuit Kettleers. They had their own set up in our basement which included its own bathroom and TV/video game system. During the players’ limited free time we would take them to the beach or on our boat.

They also enjoyed fishing each evening on our motorboat in the pond. One player went fishing with some teammates once and accidentally flipped over our motorboat, possibly as a result of drinking too many protein shakes.

MLB all-star Chase Utley was over our house frequently fishing on our pond as well and became very friendly with my family and I. We often took our players tubing and water skiing (we once made the mistake of taking one player tubing right before a big game) and hosted frequent barbecues.

At the start of each season, the Kettleers had a tradition of putting on an annual talent show as way to sort of break the ice amongst the players. One year, we had a player and four of his teammates lip sink to the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” They all brought lighters on stage with them and each time the line “You are my fire” came on they lit them. The skit became a reoccurring joke throughout the summer season and one of them being a pitcher, warmed up to the song during each game.

We also hosted each player’s parents for a week every summer. This was my parents’ favorite time of the season because every player’s parents were kind and gracious and my parents soon made fast friends with them.

We still keep in touch with our first ever Cotuit Kettleer, who we hosted during the 1998 season, Preston Underdown. My mom still smiles when talking about him because she describes him as one of the best looking men she’s ever seen. I remember one time my aunt visited and she literally could not speak or look at him because of his stunning appearance.

My parents still receive his family’s Christmas card each year and even attended his wedding in Arizona a few years ago. We also attended another player, Kirk Saarloos’s minor league game with the Sacramento River Cats.

My dad says his fondest memory as a host parent was being part of the 1999 championship team, the only championship we ever saw one of our player’s win. Our player at the time, Kirk Saarloos, who eventually went to play in the MLB and was even mentioned in the book “Money Ball.” He played on the championship team with MLB all-stars Chase Utley and Garrett Atkins.

The Kettleers were down one game against Chatham before coming back to win the next one by a nail biting 3 to 2. They captured the title in the third game winning 7-1.

Having been too young to remember much of our time as a host family, my memories are few but sweet. I remember the old man named Ivan who attended every single Cotuit Kettleer home game yelling the phrase “Have a hit” with his cane wagging high up in the air. I remember the feeling of immense excitement my brothers and I had awaiting each new player before they arrived to our house for the first time every summer. I also remember the overwhelming feeling of sadness me and my entire family felt as each player left in August.

I remember attending the Fourth of July parades each year and getting in water gun fights with the players on the float. I also remember how invested my family was in all the games. We felt the same disappointment and sorrow the player’s felt when they lost a big game and felt the same excitement and joy they felt after a big win.

My older brothers loved following the players baseball stats after their time spent with us, even following their performances into the major leagues. It was these memories and the relationships formed with each player and their families that made our experience with the Cape League truly special and unforgettable.

Although my brothers and I are all grown up and my family no longer hosts any players, we still try to stay involved with the organization as it brought so much to our lives for so long of a time. Each year my dad’s business donates the bats and balls for two games, and runs an ad in the program. This year, he will be throwing out the first pitch for the July 8th home game at Lowell Park.

Maggie Pedicini is a CapeCod.com Intern and a College Student.  When not at school, Maggie is living it up on the Cape!

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