Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island in Massachusetts that attracts visitors year round, especially in the summer months. The beaches, the quaint villages and towns, the night life, lighthouses, historical landmarks, and the shopping are just some of the many reasons why MV is so popular. And you can add summer college baseball to that list of why folks travel in the thousands to visit Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Edgartown, Katama Beach, Chappaquiddick Island, and the rest of the 87 square miles of Martha’s Vineyard.
The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, which has 13 New England teams from all over the New England area. This is the Sharks’ inaugural season in the NECBL, as they previously played in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. The Sharks play their home games at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in Oak Bluffs. As I regularly check the NECBL schedule, I noticed that Rhode Island’s Ocean State Waves were slated to play at the Shark Tank on Monday July 1st. I decided to make a day of it with my wife and travel to MV for the beaches, lunch, and to check out the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and their Shark Tank.
You can get to Martha’s Vineyard by plane, by ferry, by personal craft. If you elect to take the ferry (as most do), you can go to the Steamship Authority website and choose your port, make a vehicle reservation if you plan on bringing your vehicle, book your trip, find schedules, and much more. Their website is www.steamshipauthority.com. As for myself, I drove from RI to Woods Holes, MA (about 85 miles) and took the ferry. Parking was easy and convenient at a parking lot about 4 miles from the ferry. There was a free shuttle to the ferry and it drops you off right at the ticket office. You can buy your tickets in advance for vehicle reservations but you also purchase them the day of the ferry if you plan on just “walking on.” My wife and I elected to take the ferry to Oak Bluffs (you can also choose Vineyard Haven) mainly because we weren’t bringing our car and there is a lot of attractions near the Oak Bluffs port that are within walking distance. After we landed in Oak Bluffs, we casually walked down to South Beach and I took a swim in the ocean. It was so peaceful and relaxing and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.
Having traveled to MV for years on business, I have gotten to sample a ton of restaurants, ice cream shoppes, and watering holes over the years. One of my favorite spots to eat at is Sharky’s Cantina. They have two locations on Martha’s Vineyard – Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Their menu is all of your favorite pub foods, drinks all always cold, and the atmosphere is always festive. Rachel and I stopped in at the Oak Bluffs location for lunch and a few beverages and had a blast. If you are on the island, check out Sharky’s – you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they are a big time sponsor of the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, our next destination after lunch.
A spirited, local cabbie drove us the 15 minute cab ride from the harbor to the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and we landed in the Shark Tank. The Sharks field fits in perfectly with the laid back, summer vacation, rustic feel of Martha’s Vineyard. Split rail fencing dresses the dirt walkway as you enter the field area. Grab a game program, sit at a picnic table to eat a snack from the Shark Bites stand, and take in the full view of the stadium. The field is tucked back from the busy Edgartown/Vineyard Haven road which sees hundreds of cars, thousands of tourists, and tons of activity every day (especially in the summer time.) Great first impression as Rachel and I walked into the Shark Tank.
The game we attended was the second game of a doubleheader. The Ocean State Waves had won the first game and the grounds crew was preparing the field for the second game as we entered. The field had plenty of seating on the first and third base sides as well as a grandstand area behind home plate. There were purple chairs set up in the outfield for families to sit and watch the game from “the bleachers” section. It was great to be able to sit anywhere we wanted to get different angles and views of the game action. The sun was hot and bright and in your face on the first base side, but ducked behind the trees nicely on the third base side. I caught up with Waves President and GM Eric Hirschbein-Bodnar, who is also a Waves Coach, in between innings. We chatted for a bit about Game 1, which the Waves won on a walk off.
The action of the field between the Sharks and the Waves was awesome. There were a couple of home runs hit, a few deep drives to the outfield off the fence, some exciting base running, great pitching, and solid defense by both teams. The games move along at a pretty good pace because the talent level is top notch. The NECBL is one of the best summer collegiate baseball leagues in the entire country. They recruit top players from all over college baseball, including several from RI. I was able to see Johnston’s Nick Raposo, who plays for the Sharks, smack a single just before Rachel and I headed out for the ferry. I chatted with a few host families that lived on Martha’s Vineyard who were also from Rhode Island. And a couple from Pawtucket, who were staying on MV for the July 4th week, were sitting in the outfield bleachers section. It was great making that Rhode Island connection while at the game.
Another 15 minute ride back to Oak Bluffs to catch the ferry back to Woods Hole and we were on our way back home to RI. Rachel and I got a lot of sun and had a blast visiting different spots on our trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Oak Bluffs is so amazing and the downtown area by the port has a ton of shops, ice cream parlors, restaurants, and night life activity. You can elect to take a cab, take the MV Transit bus, walk, ride a bike, rent a scooter, or just sit in the park. There is so much to see in one day, so plan ahead if you are a planner. Otherwise, do what we did and just take it moment to moment. I loved visiting the Shark Tank to check out the Sharks vs Waves game. The field, the rustic location, the great family fun, the affordability, the memories – these are just some of what you can expect at a New England Collegiate Baseball League game. For more information on the Sharks, The Waves, and the rest of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, check out www.necbl.com. And, if you have a chance to, definitely visit the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard this year.