Harwich – In 2017, Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ hit the second-most home runs by a rookie batter in baseball history. The following year he packed a first pitch leading 2018 season for home runs and last year he scored 100 runs.The tenth his career home run, made the National League All-Star team and won a Gold Glove.
However, with all these accolades and accomplishments, he is quick to point out that “the two best seasons of my life were right here on Cape Cod, the most special place in the world.”
Hap was one of six Cape Cod baseball greats honored on Sunday with 21Street Induction class into the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame at the Cassete Resort & Golf Club.
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A former Harwich standout, Hap joins current Cubs teammate and pitcher Marcus Stroman, former major leaguers Billy Wagner and Justin Smoak, former Cape League hitting champion Patrick Biondi and longtime league executive Steven Wilson who have also been inducted. .
Hap laughingly recalled getting up early to help milk cows on his host family’s farm, as well as dressing up as a pirate for the pirate camps held during the summer at the Wequassett Inn.
“The Cape League made all the difference in the world. I came here as a kid from Cincinnati, and I was able to prove I belonged to the Cubs, it wouldn’t have been possible without the Cape League,” said Happ, who played two summers in 2013 and 2014.
In 2013, Happ initially joined Harwich as a temporary player, but played seven positions, including all three positions at outfield and pitcher, and led the Mariners in nearly every offensive category.
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The induction ceremony was led by Hall of Fame panel member and former WBZ sportscaster Scott Wahle, who led the gathering in singing the national anthem.
Cape League Commissioner Eric Zmuda presided over the festivities in the absence of Cape League President Chuck Sturtevant, who was attending his daughter’s wedding.
Each farmer’s hall was introduced by a presenter before their feedback was accepted.
Hap was introduced by Harwich field manager Steve Englert who noted “Ian had a good first season with us and he’s come back to have a very lively year”.
Cubs pitcher Stroman was introduced by Orleans field manager Kelly Nicholson, who praised the 5-7 pitcher for having “risen above being told he was too short to fulfill his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player.”
In 2010 for Orleans, pitching primarily in relief, Stroman allowed no earned runs over 28 innings while striking out 35 batters and recording 11 saves. He returned to Orleans in 2011, and had six more scoreless innings before leaving to join Team USA; His career in the Cup League totaled 34 runs and zero runs allowed.
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Stating that he originally came to the Cape as a two-way player, Stroman eventually decided not to focus on being a position player, but merely to focus on playing.
He said, “I learned early on that I couldn’t hit a slider, but I could throw one.”
Smoak, introduced by his brother David, played 11 major league seasons, mostly in Seattle and Toronto, and was the league’s MVP with Cotuit in 2006. He led the league that year with 11 home runs, 21 extra base hits, and 87 total bases, and a . 565 slugging percentage.
“It was the most fun I’ve had playing baseball, it’s just a great atmosphere,” Smoak recalled the 2006 summer he played with the Kettleers.
He praised Cotuit manager Mike Roberts for “teaching me how to hit with a wooden bat and shorten my swing. I saw speed on a daily basis and definitely learned a lot that summer.”
The fourth former major leaguer on the agenda was Brewster’s Billy Wagner, who played 16 seasons in the NL with the Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves. During his career primarily as a reliever, he posted a 47-40 record, 2.31 ERA and 422 saves in 853 relief appearances, winning the National League Rolaids Relief Man Award in 1999.
Unfortunately, Wagner was unable to attend the ceremony due to a bout with the flu, but its presenter—legendary sportswriter and MLB Network personality Peter Gammons—presented and accepted on his behalf.
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“Billy Wagner was the best pitcher I’ve ever seen on Cape Cod,” praised Gammons, noting that in the 1992 All-Star Game, Wagner pitched in, threw 10 pitches and no one fouled him. Get to the side.
Gammons noted that Wagner was a natural right-hander, but after breaking his right shoulder while playing soccer at the age of seven, he learned to throw left.
Concluding his long major league career, Gammons also described Wagner’s final appearance with the Atlanta Braves in 2010.
He came in his last inning and hit the side. That’s how he got out, said Gamons, “I think he’s going to make the (National) Baseball Hall of Fame in a couple of years.”
Introduced by field manager Mike Roberts, former Cotette player Biondi recalled his polar opposite seasons with the Kettleers in 2011 and 2012.
“I struggled that first season and I might be the only player to make the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame with a . 172 average,” he said, noting that the perseverance paid off in 2012.
400 batting range before finishing with a league-leading . 388 batting average and being named Cotuit’s Most Valuable Player. Drafted in the ninth round of the 2013 MLB draft by the New York Mets, he spent six seasons in the minor leagues, reaching Triple-A before his career ended in 2019.
“I’ve had two very different years and two different seasons after the frustrations and struggles of that first year,” said Biondi. “Back that next year was the most wonderful summer of my life.”
Introduced by former league president and Hall of Famer Jody Walden Scarafell, Wilson, a longtime league executive, worked tirelessly to improve the league while demonstrating fiscal responsibility. His meticulous management of the CCBL’s finances for 30 years as league treasurer demonstrated his unique attention to detail.
“It’s such an honor. It really is the honor of my life,” said Wilson, who first became involved with the Cape League in the 1970s.
Wilson had a distinguished career as a school psychologist in the Harwich Public Schools and was the longtime head coach of both Harwich and Monomoy Regional High School baseball teams.
Several other annual awards were presented at the pre-boot lunch by Commissioner Zmuda, including the Fred Ebbett Lifetime Achievement Award to Bill Bussiere, who has served in numerous roles within the Cape League for more than three decades including eight years as Director of Corporate Development , helping raise over $4 million.
A man of many talents, Bossier has served as the president and general manager of the Hyannis Mets and Harbor Hawks as well as the university’s vice president, vice president and deputy commissioner.
The Richard “Dick” Sullivan Executive of the Year Award was also presented to Harwich General Manager Alex Lumb, while the Peter Gammons Excellence Award was awarded to the Cape Cod 5, a major supporter of the Cape Cod Baseball League, having contributed more than $1 million annually in each of the years. past eight.
Mike Richard can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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