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Host families needed as Cape Cod Baseball players get ready for the season

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Liz Lerner
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CAI
Guv Fuller Field in Falmouth.

A beloved summer tradition returns this coming weekend: the Cape Cod Baseball League will begin its annual season.

The players and coaches are ready for a full schedule, plus the All-Star game, but the league is still looking for host families to house players.

CAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Cape Cod Baseball League Broadcasting Director John Garner to hear more.

Eident John, thanks for talking with us this morning. Opening day is right around the corner; what's on tap?

Garner It is. It starts on Sunday, June 12th. We've got a full range of games that are opening night at Bourne, Falmouth, Eastham, Orleans and Chatham.

Eident This season things will have more of a sense of normalcy. You have a full season scheduled, right?

Garner Yeah, we're starting at our regular time and we're going to play a full 44-game schedule plus the playoffs. We're back to expanded playoff run where eight of the ten teams now make the playoffs again. So that's very exciting. I think the regular season ends the first week of August and then we expand into the playoffs and everything's done by about the 12th, the 13th of August.

Eident Last year with the pandemic, you had a season, but it was truncated.

Garner Yeah, we started a week later. The teams played 40 games instead of 44, so it wasn't a big deal, but we needed that extra week to get ready. We did all the COVID testing and all of that, and that's a lot of time, effort and money. We also didn't have our Midsummer Classic, our All-Star Game, which is which is coming back in full force on July 23rd at Wareham's Spillaine Field.

Eident We are, though, still in a pandemic. So, do you have COVID protocols in place for this year?

Garner Yes, there are. We've got a full medical staff.

You know, we're lucky because most of the colleges mandate vaccinations for the most part. So, all the players come in vaccinated and we're still taking from the same reservoir of the talent pool, the top 30 Division one colleges in the country in baseball: the Oklahomas; the Alabamas; the USCs; Boston College; Vanderbilt. Those are the teams that we bring about 80% of our players from.

Eident One thing that has not returned to normal is the number of host families the league needs to take in players this summer. You're short on host families this year.

Garner Yeah, it's kind of that we always go right down to the wire, it's just the way it works. It seems to be a little bit more of a struggle this year maybe, but it seems to be rounding into shape. But every team can use some extra beds. So, if anybody out there wants to host a player or players, it's a great experience. You actually get a small stipend. But, if you have a young family, it's a great chance to get to know these future Major League players.

Eident You know, we've talked with the league in the past about some host families who take in a player and then go on to do it for years and years. They love it. What are some of the other benefits of having a player at your house for the summer?

Garner Well, for one thing, it's a great way to get started in the league. The best way to do it and get to know the league, get to know the players, is actually to host.

You don't get any more front and center than hosting a player, then you get involved in going to the games and meeting them out for lunch, or dinner afterward. And then they stay involved with these players sometimes for their entire lives. They get invited to weddings and when they get to the Major League, they'll leave two tickets for you at the park and that sort of thing. So, it's kind of a cool thing over the years. And, some host families stay in touch, others don't. They just do it for the summer and then it's cut off. But it kind of depends on the situation.

Eident But there certainly can be more than just having a young shining star in your home. There is the potential there for a lifelong friendship.

Garner Absolutely. One of the things that the Cape League is most proud of is the number of players from the Cape League that actually go to the Major League. We've got some great players with the Red Sox. We've got Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Junior, Bobby Dalbec played at Orleans, all with the Boston Red Sox. For the New York Yankees, we have Aaron Judge, and Josh Donaldson with the Yankees. You know, we've got players sprinkled all over the Major League. Right now, there are 362 current players who played in the Cape, which is very exciting.

Eident That is exciting. John Garner of the Cape Cod Baseball League, thanks so much for talking with us. Good luck with the season and with finding the host families you need for the players.

Garner Thanks for calling.

If you're interested in hosting a player, go to contact the team president of your favorite team. Find that information at: capecodbaseball.org.

This conversation was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

Kathryn Eident is an award-winning journalist and hosts WCAI's Morning Edition. She began producing stories for WCAI in 2008 as a Boston University graduate student reporting from the Statehouse. Since then, Kathryn’s work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times, Studio 360, Scientific American, and Cape and Plymouth Business Magazine.