Bourne Braves

The Bourne Braves are a collegiate summer baseball team based in Bourne, Massachusetts. The team is a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) and plays in the league's Western Division. The Braves play their home games at Doran Park on the campus of Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School in Bourne. The Braves are owned and operated by the non-profit Bourne Athletic Association.

Bourne Braves
LeagueCape Cod Baseball League (Western Division)
LocationBourne, Massachusetts
BallparkDoran Park
League championships1936, 2009
Former name(s)Bourne Canalmen
ManagerHarvey Shapiro
General ManagerDarin Weeks
PresidentNicole Norkevicius

Bourne won its first and only CCBL championship of the modern era in 2009 by defeating the Cotuit Kettleers two games to none to win the best of three championship series. The Braves and the Brewster Whitecaps joined the CCBL in 1988 as expansion teams, bringing the number of teams in the league to its current ten. The team has been led since 2003 by field manager Harvey Shapiro.


The Pre-Modern Era

Bourne's baseball history is one of the longest of all teams on the Cape, dating as far back as the 1860s when the town was still part of Sandwich. In 1867, Sandwich had four organized baseball teams: the Nichols, Independent, Shawme, and American clubs.[1] The "Independent Club" defeated the "Mattakeesetts" of Yarmouth that year, winning 41-35 in eight innings.[2] The same year, the "Nichols Club" played a series of three games against the "Cummaquid Club" of Barnstable. The first game, played "a short distance from the Sandwich Glass Company's works," was won by the Cummaquids, but the Nichols Club took the second game played in Barnstable. The third game was contested at a "neutral" site in West Barnstable, with the Cummaquid Club taking the rubber match. Of these early contests, it was reported that, "a large party from this and adjoining villages were present to witness the game, and as it was new to very many of the number, it was of unusual interest."[3][4][5]

The early Cape League era (1923-1939)

Bourne first joined the Cape League in 1933. The league had begun in 1923 with four teams, but over the years various towns moved in and out of the league. In 1933, Provincetown had joined the league for the first time, but withdrew mid-season. Bourne stepped in and played out the remainder of Provincetown's schedule, but won only one game in its inaugural partial season.[6][7] Bourne remained in the league until the league itself folded after the 1939 season, and played its home games at the Bourne High School diamond.

In 1934 and 1935, Bourne featured hard-hitting third baseman Bob "Red" Daughters, who went on to play for the Boston Red Sox.[8][9] Bourne's mainstay during this period was Massachusetts native Tony Plansky, who was a league all-star for Bourne each year from 1933 to 1939. Plansky, a star fullback from Georgetown University, had played professionally in the National Football League for the New York Giants and Boston Braves. Prior to the NFL, Plansky had played for Hyannis in the Cape League in 1928,[10] and when his football career was over, Plansky returned to the Cape to play for Bourne. In 1999, Plansky was ranked by Sports Illustrated as the #25 all-time greatest sports figure from Massachusetts.[11] He was inducted into the CCBL hall of fame in 2001.[12]

Bourne had its most successful campaign in 1936, winning the Cape League title led by player-manager Larry Donovan, the team's first baseman. Normally during this period, the Cape League season had no playoffs; a champion was determined by the best regular season record. But as it had done in 1933 and 1935, the league split the 1936 season in two half-seasons, with the winners of the two halves meeting in a post-season series for the overall title. In 1936, no post-season was needed, as Bourne took both the first and second half titles and was declared league champion.[13]

The Upper and Lower Cape League era (1946-1962)

The Cape League was revived after World War II, and the new league began play in 1946 with 11 teams playing in Upper Cape and Lower Cape divisions. The town of Bourne was represented in the Upper Cape division by Bourne and Sagamore teams. Bourne's team would become known as the Bourne Canalmen, and Sagamore's as the Sagamore Canal Clouters, or Sagamore Clouters.

The Canalmen played in the league until 1950, then after a decade-long hiatus, returned to the league in 1961. The Bourne team of the 1940s featured CCBL hall of famer Jack Sanford, a hard-throwing lefty who would go on to play with Sagamore until 1954, winning a career total of 60 games in the league.[14]

The Clouters played at Keith Field, just steps from the Cape Cod Canal in the shadow of the Sagamore Bridge. They were initially led by CCBL hall of fame manager Pat Sorenti, who later served as president and commissioner of the Cape League.[15] CCBL hall of famer George Karras was Sagamore's player-manager from 1948 to 1954.[16] Karras' teams starred CCBL hall of famer Tello Tontini, the team's popular infielder, who was a seven-time all-star for Sagamore from 1946 to 1952.[17] Karras was followed by fellow CCBL hall of famer Manny Pena, who had played in the league for Falmouth and Sagamore from 1946 to 1955, and skippered the Clouters from 1956 to 1961.[14]

Sagamore was a league powerhouse throughout the decade of the 1950s. To fans, it seemed that Sagamore would reach the league championship series every season, usually to face the Lower Cape's dominant team, Orleans. The Clouters would claim league titles in '51, '54, '56 and '59. At a time when most Cape League teams generally abided by the unwritten rule of using predominantly local players, Sagamore led the way in recruiting collegiate talent, and so set the stage for the league's modern era.

In the 1954 Cape League championship series, Games 1 and 2 against Orleans were played as a doubleheader. In a matchup of CCBL hall of fame hurlers, Orleans took Game 1, 4-3, with Roy Bruninghaus outdueling the Clouters' Jack Sanford. Sagamore answered in Game 2 with a 5-3 victory behind moundsman Dick Smith.[18] The Clouters took Game 3, but Orleans knotted the series with a 10-6 Game 4 victory, setting up a decisive Game 5 to be played on the neutral Chatham field.[19] In the finale, the Clouters held down Orleans early, leading 5-0 after seven behind a masterful performance by Sanford. Orleans rallied to score three in the eighth, and with two down in the ninth, pushed across another and put the tying run on second. With the series on the line, Sanford put Orleans batter Johnny Linnell in the hole with two quick strikes. Linnell managed to foul off the next five offerings before Sanford finally whiffed him on a high ball to claim the crown for the Clouters.[20]

The Clouters faced Cotuit for the 1956 Upper Cape title, and swept the Kettleers in two games. Sagamore jumped out early in Game 1 at Lowell Park with a six-run second frame, and hurler Johnny Karras made it stand up, tossing a complete game in the 7-5 win. The Clouters pasted Cotuit at Keith Field in Game 2, striking in the second once again with an eight-run frame, and riding the strong arm of Dick Smith to the 13-2 victory.[21][22] The win sent Sagamore to the Cape League title series against the Lower Cape champion Dennis Clippers. Smith twirled a two-hitter in Game 1 of the title tilt, and the Clouters downed the Clippers at Dennis, 7-1. Game 2 was a tight pitcher's duel early, but Sagamore scratched out a 5-3 win to secure its third Cape League championship in six years.[23]

From 1956 to 1958, the Clouters featured Billy Cleary, the 1958 Upper Cape MVP, and his brother Bobby Cleary.[23][24][25] The Clearys were Harvard ice hockey standouts who would go on to lead the US ice hockey team to a gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics.[26] Sagamore's 1958 and 1959 teams featured Bill Powers, who earned the Upper Cape division's most valuable pitcher award in both seasons. The 1962 Clouters featured CCBL hall of famer Wayne Granger, who hit .329 with six homers.[27]

The Modern Era (1963-present)

The 1960s and 1970s

In 1963, the CCBL was reorganized and became officially sanctioned by the NCAA. The league would no longer be characterized by "town teams" who fielded mainly Cape Cod residents, but would now be a formal collegiate league. Teams began to recruit college players and coaches from an increasingly wide geographic radius.

The league was originally composed of ten teams, which were divided into Upper Cape and Lower Cape divisions. The Clouters and Canalmen joined Wareham, Falmouth, and Cotuit in the Upper Cape division.

Bourne reached the playoffs in 1963, but was bumped out in the first round by Wareham. In 1964, CCBL hall of famer Lou Lamoriello became Bourne's 21-year-old player-manager. Lamoriello had played in the Cape League since 1961 with Harwich and Orleans.[28] His 1964 Bourne club starred league batting champion Harry Nelson, who hit .390 for the season.

Sagamore's 1963 team featured future major league all-star Billy Grabarkewitz, but the team finished in last place with only six wins on the season.

The two teams from Bourne merged for the 1965 season as the Sagamore Canalmen.[29][30] The 1965 team was skippered by Lou Lamoriello, now no longer in a player-manager role. Powered by an array of talented ballplayers, the 1965 club went 25-9 in the regular season and claimed the CCBL championship in a five-game series with Chatham. The Clouters starred league MVP Ron Bugbee, and future CCBL hall of famers Dan DeMichele,[31] shortstop Bob Schaefer,[32] and pitcher Noel Kinski, who won 10 games for the team.[15]

In 1967, the club reclaimed its former moniker Bourne Canalmen, and the late 1960s saw two more CCBL hall of fame players on the team. Former Bourne High School baseball star Jim Prete played several seasons in the CCBL with Bourne and Wareham.[33] Notre Dame slugger Dick Licini was league MVP in 1968, leading the league with a .382 batting average.[32]

Bourne withdrew from the league for the 1970 season, but was back the following season.[34] 1971 and 1972 saw the return of 1965 Sagamore shortstop Bob Schaefer, now the pilot of the Bourne team. Schaefer's 1972 team featured CCBL hall of fame pitcher John Caneira, who racked up 119 strikeouts as the league's outstanding pitcher.[17] The team folded after the 1972 season,[35] beginning a sixteen-year period when Bourne would not field a team in the league.

The 1980's: the Braves are born

In 1988, the Cape League expanded from eight teams to ten, adding the Brewster Whitecaps and Bourne Braves, and forming two new five-team divisions. The drive to secure a team for Bourne was led by former state senator and CCBL hall of famer Jack Aylmer, the president of Bourne's Massachusetts Maritime Academy.[31] Aylmer had spearheaded the Cape League's addition of an expansion franchise in Hyannis in 1976,[36] and his position at the Maritime Academy afforded him a similar opportunity in 1988. The Bourne Braves would call the Academy's Hendy Field home from 1988 to 1995, when they moved to Coady School Field next to Bourne High School.

In 1989, just their second year in the league, the Braves finished the regular season atop the West division, but were bumped from the playoffs by Hyannis. The Braves starred Bob Rivell, who led the league with a .358 batting average.

The 1990s

Bourne struggled throughout the 1990s, making the playoffs only twice, being ousted both times by Wareham. The 1991 Braves featured two future CCBL hall of famers: Framingham, Massachusetts native Lou Merloni,[27] and tall righty Bill Wissler, who returned from the 1990 team. Wissler had posted an 8-2 record with a 1.56 ERA in 1990. In 1991, he led the league in innings pitched with 92, and posted a 1.96 ERA with seven complete games and three shutouts.[37]

The 2000s and the Braves' first championship

Bourne's 2001 team featured CCBL hall of fame reliever Ryan Speier, winner of the league's outstanding reliever award. Speier set a league record with 16 saves, and allowed only 10 hits, one walk, and one earned run in his 20 innings of relief.[33] The team made the playoffs, but was once again ousted by Wareham.

2003 saw the arrival of manager Harvey Shapiro. In his first year with the team, Shapiro would lead the Braves to their first appearance in the league's championship series, where they were defeated by Orleans. The Braves were led by the microscopic earned run averages of Kyle Schmidt (0.55) and CCBL hall of famer Eric Beattie (0.39).[38] Beattie went 4-0 and struck out 51 while walking only six on the season, and was named the league's outstanding pitcher. The team would again reach the championship series in 2005, but was again shut down by Orleans.

In 2006, the Braves moved from Coady Field to a new field constructed behind Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School. The following season, the field was dedicated as "Doran Park" in honor of George Doran, Sr.[39] The 2006 team was powered by future Boston Red Sox slugger Mitch Moreland, who won the league's annual all-star home run derby.

In 2009, the Braves finished in first place in the West division, and featured the league's MVP in CCBL hall of famer Kyle Roller,[40] who hit .342 with 33 RBIs and a league-best 10 home runs during the regular season, and Pierre LePage, the spark plug of Shapiro's club, who was the league's 10th Player Award winner.[41] In a year when playoff seedings crossed divisional lines, Bourne faced old nemesis Orleans for the right to advance to the championship series.

Game 1 of the semi-final series didn't look good for Bourne, as Orleans hurler Jorge Reyes dominated the Braves through eight innings at Doran Park, and took a 2-0 lead into the final frame. But with one out in the ninth, Bourne's Scott Woodward singled, and LePage drew a four-pitch walk that marked the end of Reyes' night. Roller then lined a shot off the shortstop's glove into left field that allowed Woodward to score on a close play at home. LePage scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch, and Stefan Romero belted a long sacrifice fly that brought in Roller from third with the walk-off score.[42] Game 2 at Eldredge Park wasn't nearly so dramatic. Braves starter Seth Maness set down 10 straight Firebirds to open the game, and Bourne got solo shots from LePage and Roller, going on to shut out Orleans 8-0 and sweeping its way into the CCBL title series against Cotuit.[43]

The championship series opened at Doran Park, with the Braves starting Alex Wimmers on the mound for Game 1. The Braves proceeded to jump all over the Kettleers, scoring seven in the first, and another six in the second, on a total of eight hits and eight walks in the first two frames. Cotuit managed only one run through five innings, but had begun to make noise in the sixth when the game was interrupted multiple times and finally called due to heavy fog, a 15-5 Braves victory.[44] In Game 2 at Lowell Park, LePage again was the spark, belting a two-run single in the third, then stealing second and drawing a throw that allowed Woodward to score from third to put the Braves up, 3-1. Bourne would never look back. Starter Eric Cantrell tossed five plus, then gave way to Logan Billbrough and closer Kevin Munson, who shut down the Kettleers' attack. Bourne took it 5-1 to complete the sweep and earn the Braves' first CCBL title, and the first for a Bourne team since the 1965 Sagamore club. Roller took home playoff MVP honors, having hit .500 with eight RBIs in the post-season.[45][46]

The 2010s

The Braves reached the playoffs in nine of ten years in the 2010s, advancing to the West division finals five times. Bourne was back in the title series in 2017, but was downed by Brewster in a matchup of the two 1988 expansion franchises.[47] Skipper Harvey Shapiro continued to pilot the team throughout the decade, his total years with the Braves surpassing the total of all previous managers combined.

In 2010, Bourne featured the league's Outstanding Pro Prospect and Outstanding Relief Pitcher, Tony Zych. Zych allowed only two runs while striking out 29 in 20.1 innings, posting an 0.89 ERA with 12 saves, and contributing a shutout inning in the all-star game.[48] Joining Zych on the 2010 staff was the league's Outstanding Pitcher, Grayson Garvin, who went 5-0 with a league-leading 0.74 ERA in 36.2 innings.[49] The Outstanding Pitcher award went to a Brave for a second consecutive season when Ryan Eades took the 2011 honor. Eades posted a 3-0 record with an 0.84 ERA in 32.1 innings, and was the West division starting pitcher at the all-star game.[50]

Bourne boasted the league MVP twice in the decade, as Travis Jankowski took home the honor in 2011, and Max Pentecost in 2013. Jankowski hit .329 and stole 15 bases, and led the league in hits, runs and triples.[51] Pentecost was among the league leaders in all three triple crown categories, finishing with a .346 average, 6 homers and 29 RBIs.[52]

Bourne's Spencer Brickhouse was West division MVP at the 2018 CCBL all-star game, going 2-for-2 with a homer, double and two RBI's in the West's 4-3 victory.[53] A pair of Braves hurlers were named co-recipients of the league's Outstanding New England Player award in 2018, as Justin Lasko of Stratford, Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts shared the honor with Methuen, Massachusetts native Jacob Wallace of the University of Connecticut.[54]

CCBL Hall of Fame inductees

The CCBL Hall of Fame and Museum is a history museum and hall of fame honoring past players, coaches, and others who have made outstanding contributions to the CCBL.[55] Below are the inductees who spent all or part of their time in the Cape League with Bourne.

Year Inducted Ref. Name Position
2001[12]Tony PlanskyPlayer/Manager
2002[16]George KarrasPlayer/Manager
2003 [15] Noel KinskiPlayer
Pat SorentiManager/Executive
2004 [17] Tello TontiniPlayer
John CaneiraPlayer
2005 [14] Manny PenaPlayer/Manager
Jack SanfordPlayer
2007 [32] Dick LiciniPlayer
Bob SchaeferPlayer/Manager
2009[28]Lou LamorielloPlayer/Manager
2010 [27] Wayne GrangerPlayer
Lou MerloniPlayer
2011[37]Bill WisslerPlayer
2012 [31] John "Jack" AylmerExecutive
Dan DeMichelePlayer
2013 [33] Jim PretePlayer
Ryan SpeierPlayer
2014[38]Eric BeattiePlayer
2016[40]Kyle RollerPlayer
2017[56]Chuck SturtevantExecutive

Notable players

Yearly results

Results by Season, 1933-1939
Year Won Lost Regular Season Finish Postseason* Manager Ref
19331255th League (B)Jack Fisher[57][58]
193422243rd LeagueJack Fisher[60]
193519293rd League (A)
4th League (B)
Tony Plansky[61][62]
193630171st League (A)
1st League (B)
Won championshipLarry Donovan[64][13]
193726193rd LeagueLarry Donovan[65]
193821334th LeagueBill Lane[66]
193923303rd League (A)
4th League (B)
Herb Gallagher[67]

* During the CCBL's 1923-1939 era, post-season playoffs were a rarity. In most years, the regular season pennant winner was simply crowned as the league champion.
However, there were four years in which the league split its regular season and crowned separate champions for the first (A) and second (B) halves. In two of those
seasons (1936 and 1939), a single team won both halves and was declared overall champion. In the other two split seasons (1933 and 1935), a post-season
playoff series was contested between the two half-season champions to determine the overall champion.
In 1933, Bourne joined the league mid-season after Provincetown withdrew.

Results by Season, 1946-1962 (Sagamore)
Year Postseason Manager
1946Lost semi-finals (Falmouth)Pat Sorenti
1948George Karras
1949George Karras
1950Won semi-finals (Cotuit)
Lost championship (Orleans)
George Karras
1951Won semi-finals (Cotuit)
Won championship (Orleans)
George Karras
1952Lost championship (Orleans)George Karras
1953Won semi-finals (Mass. Maritime)
Lost championship (Orleans)
George Karras
1954Won semi-finals (Cotuit)
Won championship (Orleans)
George Karras
1955Lost semi-finals (Cotuit)
1956Won round 1 (Wareham)
Won semi-finals (Cotuit)
Won championship (Dennis)
Manny Pena
1957Lost round 1 (Cotuit)Manny Pena
1958Lost championship (Yarmouth)Manny Pena
1959Won championship (Orleans)Manny Pena
1960Lost championship (Yarmouth)Manny Pena
1961Manny Pena
1962Lost semi-finals (Cotuit)
Results by Season, 1946-1962 (Bourne)
Year Postseason Manager
Did not play
1962Lost round 1 (Cotuit)
Results by Season, 1963-1966 (Sagamore)
Year Won Lost Tied Regular Season Finish Postseason Manager
196362705th Upper Cape DivisionBill Hendy
196525901st Upper Cape DivisionWon championship (Chatham)Lou Lamoriello
1966171702nd Upper Cape Division
Results by Season, 1963-1972 (Bourne)
Year Won Lost Tied Regular Season Finish Postseason Manager
1963211102nd Upper Cape DivisionLost round 1 (Wareham)Charlie Duchesney
1964Lou Lamoriello
1965 Did not play
1966 Did not play
1967122703rd Upper Cape Division (T)
1968202002nd Upper Cape DivisionRick Doherty
1969133004th Upper Cape DivisionRick Doherty
1970 Did not play
1971162507th LeagueBob Schaefer
1972142507th LeagueBob Schaefer
Results by Season, 1988–present
Year Won Lost Tied Regular Season Finish Postseason Manager
1988122905th West DivisionJim Watkins
1989241731st West DivisionLost semi-finals (Hyannis)Jim Watkins
1990192414th West DivisionJim Watkins
1991202044th West DivisionBob Gendron
1992192313rd West DivisionBob Gendron
1993152815th West DivisionBob Gendron
1994122835th West DivisionNino Giarratano
Bob Stead
1995182334th West DivisionBob Stead
1996182515th West DivisionBob Stead
1997251722nd West DivisionLost semi-finals (Wareham)Kevin O'Sullivan
1998202132nd West DivisionLost semi-finals (Wareham)Jayson King
1999232013rd West DivisionMike Rikard
2000132915th West DivisionMike Rikard
2001231832nd West DivisionLost semi-finals (Wareham)Spencer Graham
2002162444th West DivisionMatt Noone
2003231911st West DivisionWon semi-finals (Hyannis)
Lost championship (Orleans)
Harvey Shapiro
2004192415th West DivisionHarvey Shapiro
2005261711st West DivisionWon semi-finals (Cotuit)
Lost championship (Orleans)
Harvey Shapiro
200693225th West DivisionHarvey Shapiro
2007251721st West DivisionLost semi-finals (Falmouth)Harvey Shapiro
2008232012nd West Division (T)Lost play-in game (Falmouth)Harvey Shapiro
2009251721st West DivisionWon semi-finals (Orleans)
Won championship (Cotuit)
Harvey Shapiro
2010242001st West DivisionLost round 1 (Wareham)Harvey Shapiro
2011222022nd West Division (T)Lost round 1 (Wareham)Harvey Shapiro
2012172704th West DivisionWon round 1 (Cotuit)
Lost semi-finals (Wareham)
Harvey Shapiro
2013212114th West DivisionWon round 1 (Falmouth)
Lost semi-finals (Cotuit)
Harvey Shapiro
2014281511st West DivisionLost round 1 (Cotuit)Harvey Shapiro
2015222022nd West DivisionWon round 1 (Wareham)
Lost semi-finals (Hyannis)
Harvey Shapiro
2016212123rd West DivisionWon round 1 (Wareham)
Lost semi-finals (Falmouth)
Harvey Shapiro
2017222203rd West DivisionWon round 1 (Cotuit)
Won semi-finals (Wareham)
Lost championship (Brewster)
Harvey Shapiro
2018182515th West DivisionHarvey Shapiro
2019182424th West DivisionLost round 1 (Falmouth)Harvey Shapiro

League Award Winners

The Pat Sorenti
MVP Award
Year Player
1965Ron Bugbee (Sag.)
1968Dick Licini
2009Kyle Roller
2011Travis Jankowski
2013Max Pentecost
The Robert A. McNeece
Outstanding Pro Prospect Award
Year Player
2010Tony Zych
The BFC Whitehouse
Outstanding Pitcher Award
Year Player
1965Noel Kinski (Sag.)
1972John Caneira
1990Bill Wissler
1991Bill Wissler
2003Eric Beattie
2008Nick McCully
2010Grayson Garvin
2011Ryan Eades
The Russ Ford
Outstanding Relief Pitcher Award
Year Player
1998Tim Lavigne
2001Ryan Speier
2010Tony Zych
2015Austin Conway*
2017Ryan Feltner*

The Daniel J. Silva
Sportsmanship Award
Year Player
2009Pierre LePage
2011Patrick Cantwell
The Manny Robello
10th Player Award
Year Player
1989Bob Rivell
1998Jeff House
2003Justin Maxwell
2005Brad Lincoln
2009Pierre LePage
The John J. Claffey Outstanding
New England Player Award
Year Player
2007Bill Perry
2016Willy Yahn
2018Justin Lasko*
2018Jacob Wallace*
The Thurman Munson Award
for Batting Champion
Year Player
1964Harry Nelson (.390)
1968Dick Licini (.382)
1989Bob Rivell (.358)

All-Star Game MVP Award
Year Player
2018Spencer Brickhouse
All-Star Home Run Hitting
Contest Champion
Year Player
2004Austin Easley
2006Mitch Moreland
The Star of Stars
Playoff MVP Award
Year Player
2009Kyle Roller

(*) - Indicates co-recipient
() - Since 1991, an All-Star Game MVP has been named for each of the league's two divisions.

Managerial History

Manager Seasons Total Seasons Championship Seasons
Jim Watkins1988 - 19903
Bob Gendron1991 - 19933
Nino Giarratano19941
Bob Stead1994 - 19963
Kevin O'Sullivan19971
Jayson King19981
Mike Rikard1999 - 20002
Spencer Graham20011
Matt Noone20021
Harvey Shapiro2003 - 2019172009

See also

  • Bourne Braves players


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