Story by Steve McCarthy and photos by Grace Archambeault
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
COTUIT – Normally it would be discomforting for a baseball coach to see his catcher walking around in a dress. For Cotuit Kettleers coach Mike Roberts, it is excused for one night at the annual Welcome Picnic at Marstons Mills Elementary School, where incoming players shed their bashfulness during skits, and interact with community members.
“It’s a real ice-breaker,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of young men that are very quiet, and it’s easy for the outgoing guys. But for the guys that are a little bit reserved, this gives them an opportunity to maybe do something a little bit out of their neighborhood.”
Catcher Cody Stanley (UNC Wilmington) probably hopes the pictures and video taken Wednesday night will not surface, but can take comfort in the fact that several of his Kettleers teammates shared the same embarrassment and were laughing at themselves after.
Tables were filled to capacity in the school’s cafeteria where a meal and dessert provided by donations and the Outback Steakhouse was enjoyed by the players, host families, Cotuit Athletic Association board members, interns, and the community.
General Manager Bruce Murphy and team president Paul Logan started the evening by introducing the Cotuit Athletic Association’s board members, and the interns. Coach Roberts then had the team parade in and introduce themselves, as well as their host families. Some family members of the players were also in attendance.
“It is a wonderful way to bring us all together and sort of forget baseball, which is what we all think we came here for, and just become a family,” Roberts said.
The cafeteria was abuzz with excitement after 12 names on the 2008 Kettleers roster were called during the Major League Draft, which took place Tuesday night and Wednesday. Stanford closer Drew Storen, who was penciled into the Cotuit roster for a second season, went with the tenth overall pick to the Washington Nationals and has already signed a contract. Shortstop Robbie Shields (Florida Southern) was in attendance at the picnic and took several congratulatory handshakes after his name was called Tuesday in the third round, #103 overall, by the New York Mets.
“It’s all the hard work in 16 years of going to the field all the time paid off,” Shields said. “Now I get to start my journey to the big leagues I hope.”
Shields mentioned how grateful he is to coach Roberts for giving him the opportunity to prove himself in the Cape League. After roaring out of the gates with a .429 batting average in the first 10 games for Cotuit in 2008, Shields had his season shortened by injury.
“I came up here as a low-profile guy last year, and I got off to a good start, and (Roberts) helped me through a lot,” Shields said. “He gave me an opportunity to play for the Kettleers, and I’m thankful for that. He’s been tremendous for me.”
Roberts described being overcome with emotion when several of his current and former players called him late the previous evening and the day after to thank him for his influence during their time in Cotuit.
“Last night, in all of my years of coaching, was one of the most enjoyable nights, and also today, that I’ve ever had, because of the happiness that so many of these young men are on the start of reaching their dreams,” Roberts said.
After the skits amused the crowd, including one featuring Roberts and his assistants, the coach took time to extend his gratitude to General Manager Emeritus Arnold Mycock, who has donated countless hours of his time to the Kettleers organization
for 60 years.
“He has shown me how to appreciate people, certainly how to appreciate the game, and all we want to do is show a lot of appreciation and love toward him,” Roberts said.