In Rhode Island, we are so lucky to have the New England Collegiate Baseball League represented by the Newport Gulls and the Ocean State Waves. This summer, I wanted to feature more RI Collegiate baseball players than I have in past years. With the help of several local RI coaches and their connections, I was able to meet and write about Rhode Island baseball players playing in the Cape Cod League as well as the New England Collegiate Baseball League. And, I was able to attend more games this summer, visiting Newport, Wakefield, Yarmouth, and Martha’s Vineyard. I was so thrilled to be able to meet and interview the players as well as catch them live on some of our most historic baseball fields.
Through Matt Hopkins of Hops Athletic Performance, I was able to meet and interview Mike Webb and Caleb Wurster. Webb plays for Rhode Island College, is a Bishop Hendricken graduate, and played for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League this summer. Caleb pitches for the University of Connecticut, is also a Hendricken graduate, and played for Falmouth of the Cape Cod League. Both of these players were kind enough to work with me via email and answer a ton of questions about their past, their present, and their future plans. Thank you to Matt Hopkins, Caleb Wurster, and Mike Webb for making those articles possible. And good luck to Caleb and Mike as they finish their college careers this year and potentially be drafted into Major League Baseball.
The Newport Gulls play their home games at historic Cardines Field in downtown Newport. I visit the Gulls as often as I can every summer to soak in the history of the ball park as well as the excellent play on the field. This summer, I got to sit next to and meet Gulls President and GM Chuck Paiva. Chuck met and greeted several hundred others that night as well, as his seat is right behind home plate. And, I got to meet and converse with longtime public address announcer Don O’Hanley, O’Hanley has the deep, rich, old-time baseball voice that you might hear in a Hollywood movie featuring the 1927 Yankees or 1967 Red Sox. Don is a historian of baseball in Newport and was just a joy to talk baseball with. I hope to connect with Don this fall and chat some more about baseball in Rhode Island.
The Ocean State Waves play their home games at Old Mountain Field in Wakefield. The field is a great example of why summer collegiate baseball is so popular here in Rhode Island. There are traditional bleacher seats behind home plate. But the majority of fans lineup on the grassy area of left field or are simply just walking around the perimeter of the fence during the game. There is an open seating policy at Old Mountain Field and I believe it gives the fans an opportunity to see the game at all angles of the field. I especially love it so I can take photos from the bleachers, next to the dugouts, in center field, and all around the park. Old Mountain Field is the field my Little League plays on for the Juniors Division and that makes going there so special for me and my son. He plays and competes on the same field as some of the best collegiate players in the country. I love going there every summer to watch the Waves.
This summer I got an opportunity (and a day off work) to travel to Martha’s Vineyard to see the Ocean State Waves play the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. The Sharks were playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the first time this summer and I wanted to combine baseball and a date with my wife into one day. The solution – a trip to Martha’s Vineyard for the beach, a nice lunch out with the wife, and catch a game before the last ferry. Mission accomplished as Rachel and I had a spectacular day on MV. As luck would have it, the Waves and Sharks played a doubleheader and we caught the second game. It was really cool being on MV and checking out the Shark Tank. And I hope to make it a yearly experience with the Waves and/or Gulls vs the Sharks.
Based on my schedule, it is a little harder for me to get to Cape Cod League games featuring RI players. This summer, we had 3 players from Rhode Island participate in the Cape Cod League – Webb, Wurster, and Ben Sears, who signed late in the summer with Orleans. I did manage to get to one Cape Cod League game hoping to run into Falmouth’s Caleb Wurster. Rachel and I drove to Yarmouth and Red Wilson Field to catch Yarmouth-Dennis vs Falmouth. Around the 3rd inning or so, I walked down to the bullpen to ask the players if Caleb was here, but unfortunately he was away from the team attending to a friend’s wedding. I got to catch part of the game and as always, the crowd and play on the field were amazing. I hope to catch more Cape Cod League games next summer, schedule permitting.
I am so lucky to have great connections here in Rhode Island and have such incredible access to the college summer baseball leagues. Most of the players I watch every summer are going to be selected into professional baseball drafts in the coming years. Some will even play in the Major Leagues in the not so distant future. Here in Rhode Island, it is such a joy to go to see the Gulls and the Waves play every summer. I really appreciate the staffs of both organizations who work with me on tickets, promotions, and access to the players. It was another incredible summer of collegiate baseball here in Rhode Island.