2024 Cape League season kicks off at First Pitch Brunch

The Cape League held its annual First Pitch Brunch at the 99 Restaurant ahead of Opening Day in six days

WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. – The Cape Cod Baseball League hosted its annual First Pitch Brunch at the 99 Restaurant ahead of Opening Day in six days. This was the 20th consecutive year the event was hosted by the 99 Restaurant.

The Bourne Braves were presented with their 2023 championship banner and the seven standouts of the 2024 Class of Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame were announced. The event concluded with WEEI senior writer and Red Sox broadcaster Rod Bradford introducing each field manager.

“It's always kind of a breath of fresh air to get back out (to the Cape) and be around the people that are out here,” Braves manager Scott Landers said.

With the Braves trying to become the third team in Cape League history to win three consecutive titles -- Yarmouth-Dennis (2014-16) and Falmouth (1969-71) -- some slight changes will be implemented in 2024.

This year, the league’s Opening Day is a week later than in the past as the regular season was reduced from 44 to 40 games. It was also announced that the first round of the playoffs is now a one-game series instead of a best-of-three. There is vast excitement around the league with new changes under first-year commissioner John Castleberry.

“The countdown clock is real. It is,” Brewster Whitecaps manager Jamie Shevchik said. “We start our seasons as college coaches back in January, and it doesn't take long before we're really excited for our college season and the switch flips where we can't wait to get here and turn it over to the Cape.”


(Members of the Cape Cod Baseball League and 99 Restaurant pose during the league's annual First Pitch Brunch. Photograph by Nate Tracy.)

While this year’s players are still toward the beginning of their baseball careers, the Cape League announced its seven 2024 Hall of Famers. Andrew Calica (Wareham), Todd Cunningham (Falmouth), Todd Helton (Orleans), Pat Neshek (Wareham), Brick Smith (Hyannis), Nick Senzel (Brewster) and Jeff Trundy (Falmouth) will be inducted at a ceremony scheduled for Nov. 17, at the Wequassett Resort in Harwich, Mass.

Hall of Fame committee co-chair John Garner said that the selection process is year-round with the committee starting their process at the end of the summer ahead of nomination forms due on Feb. 15. From there, the committee selects the new Hall of Fame class and reveals it at the annual First Pitch Brunch.

Helton is preparing for his National Baseball Hall of Fame induction in July while Senzel is in his sixth MLB season. Meanwhile, Neshek, Calica, Smith and Cunningham have retired from professional baseball. Trundy has been coaching in the Cape League since 1995 and has been Falmouth’s manager since 1999. In his tenure with the Commodores, he has won the Mike Curran Manager of the Year Award in 2004, 2016 and 2019. Trundy surpassed the magical 500-win mark in 2023.

“This league is about the people and to be part of it, I've been blessed,” Trundy said.

The event concluded with Bradford briefly describing each team’s manager before they provided statements expressing gratitude for their peers and excitement for the 2024 season. Eight of the Cape League’s 10 managers are returning from last season. Jeremy Sheetinger (Chatham) and Mitch Karraker (Hyannis) enter their first seasons in 2024.

While Sheetinger and Karraker are new faces, 2024 is the 40th anniversary of Cotuit Kettleers manager Mike Roberts debuting as a coach in the Cape League. He was Wareham’s manager in 1984 and 2000 before joining Cotuit, where he is entering his 20th season at the helm. Despite his vast experience, the start of a new Cape League season never gets old for Roberts.

“I've been doing this 50 years now, but it's just as much fun,” Roberts said. “When I drive over the Bourne Bridge or the Sagamore Bridge, that same feeling comes into your mind and your heart and the beauty of the Cape and the opportunity to compete with everybody.”

With the First Pitch Brunch in the rearview, the Cape League prepares for Opening Day on June 15.

(Top Photograph of Jeff Trundy taken by Danielle Stockwell)