Remember when you were in school, maybe seventh or eighth grade, and on the first day of class your English teacher asked you to write a theme paper entitled “What I Did On My Summer Vacation?” Well, I’m not in eighth grade, and I don’t have an English teacher, but I do like to write, so I thought I’d channel my inner eighth grader and tell you a little bit about MJB’s Excellent Adventure (Version 2015).
Technically, I’m not actually on vacation. My contract with the Pacers runs year round, and while there’s not a lot to do this time of the year, I still have an obligation to be available. But my outside-the-box, eccentric (read: difficult) personality works to my advantage here - would YOU want me around all the time? – and the Pacers seemed more than happy to grant me an excused absence for a couple of months.
So. How best to use that time? For me, summer has always been a time to try new things and move just a bit outside my comfort zone. In years past, I’ve done standup comedy, played in the US Open Chess Tournament, walked 518 miles across Indiana, tried community theatre, and worked on a NASCAR pit crew, among other things. Two of my passions are baseball and working with aspiring young play-by-play types, and this summer I’ve somehow managed to con my way into a job as a broadcaster/mentor with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Job is actually a misnomer here, as this is a volunteer league and nobody, up to and including the team’s general manager, Steve Faucher, ever sees a dime. Admission to the games is free, and the baseball is exceptional. The leagues consists of top shelf college players, many of whom have already been drafted by major league teams, and is considered to be the top summer league of its kind in the country. Last season alone, there were 276 CCBL alums players playing in the big leagues, and the Red Sox – the 2014 CCBL champions – count Craig Biggio, Buster Posey, Chris Sale, and countless other prominent big leaguers among their former players.
There are ten teams in the league, the games are broadcast on line, and the broadcasters, like the players, are college kids. My partners on the Y-D broadcasts are Anthony Santaniello (Hofstra, class of 2016), Ryan Gallant (UMass, class of 2016), and Kaley Kiss (Lasell, class of 2015). Anthony does six innings, I do three – yes, I’m the backup to a kid that wasn’t even born when I broke into the NBA – and Kaley and Ryan provide us with interviews, scoreboard updates, and so on.
The cape itself is fantastic. Breathtaking scenery, quirky little towns, and all the clam chowder you can eat. Pauline Judge, a woman who has lived in the area most of her life, has opened a loft in her home, and this serves as my headquarters. It’s a neat little place, the highlight being the outdoor shower that is far from unusual around here. I’m way past the point where I care if anyone sees me au naturel, though I am fully cognizant of the potential trauma this might inflict on the neighbors and always make sure to wander outside in a towel. The idea of an outdoor shower caught me off guard at first, but I eventually figured that if it was good enough for Daniel Boone, it’s good enough for me.
I’ve been here for a little over three weeks, and will be here for another month or so. I’ll check in from time to time, assuming I can break away from the baseball, the seafood, the beach, and the local watering holes. Meanwhile, if you find yourself out this way, look me up and I’ll get you tickets to one of our games. It’s the only league I’m aware of that can guarantee you’ll get more than you paid for.