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Hyannis Host Family

We are just over one week away until the boys of summer are back on Cape Cod! And that means families across the Cape are preparing to welcome their “summer sons'' into their homes.

The Cape Cod Baseball League relies on a crucial element to ensure that “The Stars of Tomorrow Shine Tonight” - host families. Every summer, hundreds of Cape locals generously open their homes to accommodate the nation's finest baseball players, often welcoming multiple players at once.

A simple home-cooked meal or even a friendly “good morning” can go a long way for these players who are prepared to spend months away from home, some even being thousands of miles away from their own families.

For these players, their impact on those who have the opportunity to welcome them into their homes are profound. They have provided guidance, support and valuable insights, helping young athletes such as Stephenson navigate the baseball circuit and achieve their own similar goals.

For the Stephenson family, they know a thing or two about hosting players.

Residing in Bourne, the Stephenson family has been hosting players for quite a few years, one of the most notable players being an MLB first-round pick (going No. 13 overall) from Maryland, Matt Shaw. Shaw was a crucial player on the Bourne Braves 2022 roster, leading the team to the championship over the Brewster Whitecaps.

Alongside Shaw, Cape League playoff MVP Bryce Eblin from Alabama took up residence in the Stephenson house.

Shaw did not return for a second summer as most players do not, but for Eblin, it was a no-brainer.

The youngest Stephenson son, Zach, was entering his junior year in college just as Eblin decided to return to Bourne for one more summer. Although Eblin may not have known it at the time, his impact went beyond what he imagined it would be on his host brothers.

“It was summer before we actually started hosting players. We were like, oh, it'd be kind of cool to host some players, especially with me and my brother Sean playing college baseball too,” reflected Stephenson.

Being a collegiate baseball player himself, Stephenson found himself relating to both Shaw and Eblin.

Stephenson wasn't on Cape as often as he wanted me to be when Shaw was living with him. But last summer he decided to stick around, which led to him becoming closer with Elbin once he returned. At the end of his sophomore year, Stephenson transferred to Endicott College to complete his college baseball career. Stephenson often asked Eblin for advice.

“He's just so down to earth and humble that, you know, you can go to him for anything,” Stephenson said. “We just talked about his baseball career and my baseball career all the time. He just loves baseball too and he definitely helped me learn some things about baseball, especially him playing in the SEC. We both agreed that no matter what level you’re playing at, baseball is baseball.”

The Stephensons offered the ideal Cape Cod experience that all these players hoped for a home near the beach. More importantly, they offered a home full of love and support.

Hyannis president Dan Johnson expresses gratitude for their own host family experience and acknowledges the league's need for such families. Johnson, having hosted for 13 years, stressed the importance of treating them like extended family, especially by fostering a welcoming environment for players to pursue their dreams.

“I understand the value of host families from being one and being able to offer an environment for a kid to be able to come home to a relaxed atmosphere and not talk about baseball, and just enjoy, you know, a bit of northern hospitality. That is what host families can offer to these baseball players, when you think about it.”

When asked to reflect on the importance of the type of environment these young players should live in, Johnson responded:

“To come home to a supportive environment, you know, whatever they did on the field is irrelevant. Whether they went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, they're going to come home and we're going to laugh and we're going to do fun stuff. So that is incredibly important to a player to come home to a welcoming environment, a family environment.”

The Johnsons find themselves staying in contact with many of their players, even finding themselves attending the weddings of their players.

One player that the Johnson family keeps tabs on is standout Florida State third baseman Cam Smith from this past summer. Smith is currently projected to go in the top 20 for this year's MLB Draft, being recognized as one of the top third basemen in the country currently.

The Johnson family reunited with Smith just a few weeks ago during their away series at Boston College, where Smith eagerly waited to introduce them to their newest 2023 host player.

“I talk to Cam constantly. There's a player, Jaxson West, who's FSU’s catcher, who's playing for Hyannis this year. Cam wanted to make sure that Jaxson was going to live with me this year. So, after the game we all went out to dinner in the North End. I love Cam, he's just the sweetest kid in the world,” Johnson laughed. “Every single person in my family that met him said he's got the most contagious smile they've ever seen. His smile would warm up a room and he was just such a pleasant kid to be around.”

With the Johnson’s family home filled once more, there is much anticipation for what's to come this summer for the Harbor Hawks, however, there are still players to be housed. Johnson expressed from the perspective of the franchise's president that there wouldn’t be a league without these families, stressing just how incredibly important it is for Cape Cod families to continually open their homes.

For the Cape League 2023 Pitcher of the Year Cam Hill, a host family meant more than just being a temporary resident in Cotuit.

Born and raised in Georgia, Hill currently attends Georgia Tech, being a standout left handed pitcher for the Yellow Jackets. Having never strayed too far from home before, the transition to the Cape was a culture shock to him.

But, his host family ensured a smooth and comfortable transition, opening Hill’s eyes to understanding how other people and families live on Cape. A big factor that played into Hill being as comfortable as he was with the family was the fact that he wasn’t the only young adult in the home.

Having other kids around his age brought out a new side of Hill, not being used to living with “siblings."

“A big part of it, for me, was kind of getting acquainted with the kids that were in the house already, because when I was coming up, I was basically like an only child. My sister was on the go all the time, so it's nice to bond with them, kind of like siblings, in a way. It was always nice to come home after a long day to feel like a family and a home cooked meal.”

What host families may tend to forget is the idea of how small gestures that feel like home for these players go a long way. For Hill, he explained the impact of those gestures.

“One thing my host mom would do was she finds out the favorite dish of whatever player she's hosting and tries to replicate it as best she can... It’s just small stuff like that goes a long way when you’re away from home.”

Players who take the leap of faith to spend their summers away from home gain invaluable perspectives and experiences that drive the league forward.

It’s easy for people to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of hosting the future of MLB, but for many families, housing Cape League interns is just as vital.

Sitting on the board of directors for the Cotuit Kettlers, Leah Ridpath understands the difficulties in finding enough host families, while emphasizing the crucial role interns play in the league's success.

“Prior to the pandemic, there were a lot more options for interns to find housing. A lot of times kids would just get together as a group and try to find something to rent, and it was much easier pre-pandemic,” Ridpath explained. “Then we opened back up for the 2021 season, and there were two things that have happened: the cost of housing had gone up exponentially, and people had moved out of the cities and onto Cape Cod, so there was less inventory to pick from and to rent from.”

An opportunity to intern for organizations such as the Cape League has been proven to offer much potential to getting a leg up in the realm of sports. These interns perform a range of roles from photography, social media, broadcasting, writing, merchandising and any and all tasks that pop up.

So Ridpath, like many other officials across the Cape League, hated the idea of turning away talented interns from their staff.

Something had to be done.

Ridpath began to brainstorm potential ideas to reach a solution to the ongoing housing issues. Eventually, the “aha” moment was reached.

“So around 2022, Cotuit decided to start helping and we operated a little bit differently. We started to try to put interns with host families the same way we placed players with host families.”

However, another fear was brought to Cotuit’s attention. Historically, many of these host families prefer to house players. The excitement to have a player who's potentially an MLB prospect is significant. So, was there potential of the excitement not extending to interns?

As the season progressed, the community began to realize the immense value interns brought to the league. In many instances, they were the problem solvers. Having hosted her own fair share of interns, Ridpath couldn’t help but show her gratitude to her experiences hosting.

“I got really lucky. I've always had really incredible kids in my house,” she said. “We're in a multi-generational house, I'm here taking care of my mom and my mother who's in her mid 80s loves it. They bring young, good energy. So, everybody benefits.”

The initiative to house interns has since become a cherished tradition within the Cape League community. The contributions of these young professionals are now recognized as integral to the league's success, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for all involved. These shared experiences are just a glimpse of the countless stories that unfold with host families across Cape Cod and as the season approaches, the need for host families becomes increasingly important.

Each team in the Cape Cod Baseball League relies on the generosity and support of community members to provide a welcoming and stable environment for our players and interns alike.

The Cape League is still seeking host families for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. If interested, you can either contact the Cape League at, or by visiting and reach out directly to a team near you!

Top photo from left to right: Dan Johnson (Hyannis President), Darin Horn, Jordynn Johnson (Dan’s daughter and head photographer for Hyannis) and Cam Smith.