The Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game is returning to a league ballpark, as the 2012 game is slated to be played at Whitehouse Field, home of the defending league champs Harwich Mariners.
Harwich was chosen by vote of the Executive Committee during a special meeting Thursday night.
It will be the first All-Star Game on Cape soil since 2008 when more than 8,000 spectators watched the East Division extend its winning streak to six games by beating the West, 8-6, at Veterans Field in Chatham. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have hosted the game at Fenway Park, where the West Division scored shutout victories in 2009 and 2010 and the East dominated last summer’s “Spaceball” game, 4-1.
“I’m very pleased that the game is returning to the Cape,” said Bill Bussiere, chairman of the league’s All-Star Game Committee. “And playing it in the home park of our defending champions, the Harwich Mariners, is especially appropriate. I expect a great game.”
The Red Sox had invited the Cape League’s premier event to return this summer, but the two organizations could not resolve scheduling conflicts.
Whitehouse Field’s first CCBL All-Star Game came in 1969, the final year of the Upper Cape-Lower Cape divisional series. The host Lower Cape shut out the Upper Cape visitors, 4-0. It was 23 years before the game returned to Harwich and this time the visiting West Division squad scored a 3-1 win. In 2002, the West triumphed, 4-1.
In the decade since that game, the field has seen a number of major improvements and has been home to two Mariner championship teams (2008 and 2011). There are new dugouts, new field lights, revamped bleacher seating and a new inning-by-inning scoreboard. Team officials say they plan to erect additional temporary seating in order to accommodate the large crowd expected for the All-Star Game.
This year’s All-Star Game will be the 25th since the expansion year of 1988, when the East-West format was adopted. The East leads the series, 12 wins to 11, with one tie, a darkness-halted, 6-6 game at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth in 1996.
Between 1970 and 1987, the All-Star Game format matched a composite squad from the league’s eight franchises against a team from the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Most of those games were played in major league stadiums, including Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium and Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. Falmouth and Chatham also hosted CCBL-ACBL games during that 18-year stretch in which the Cape League teams won 13 times and lost just twice.
Although this summer’s CCBL All-Star Game will not be held at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have designated Sunday, July 22, as Cape Cod Day and the Cape League will participate by staging the qualifying round of its annual Home Run Contest in the shadow of the famed Green Monster. That competition will start at approximately noon, preceding a Toronto-Boston game. Surviving Cape League sluggers will advance to the championship round six days later in Harwich.
Mariners General Manager Ben Layton served on the All-Star Game Committee during the three years the game was played at Fenway Park and was instrumental in the planning and operational logistics of the on-field and pre-game activities, the player autograph sessions and working with media and television personnel.
“We are honored to be selected by the league to host this game,” Layton said. “We have the enthusiastic support of our local fire, police and EMT departments along with the Harwich Chamber of Commerce. Everyone is committed to working very hard to make this a great event for our team, the town and the league.”
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