The premier amateur men’s wooden bat baseball tournament, the Cape Cod Classic, hosted by the Boston Metro Baseball League, returned to Cape Cod over Labor Day weekend for its 27th edition.
This year the event welcomed 18 teams from six states, including nine teams in an Age 28+ division and nine teams in an Age 45+ division. Teams came to the Cape from Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, and other parts of Massachusetts.
Each team is guaranteed at least three games, with the potential to play as many as five games if they reach the playoffs.
And while much is at stake — trophies are handed out to the champions in each division — these amateur players also have some fun, taking the field on the hallowed grounds of the Cape Cod Baseball League teams and spending a weekend focused on family, friends, and the sport they love.
Talking with players who have been coming for only a few years as well as old-timers who’ve played in up to 25 tournaments, a reporter overheard more than once during the tourney: “This weekend? I wouldn’t miss it.”
The competition is fierce, and the players put their bodies on the line, making diving catches in the outfield and sprawling for one-hop liners in the infield.
“It means more every year, because I’m getting older,” said Chris Currie, one of the co-commissioners of the event and manager of the Framingham Orioles. “This is my social hour. Friends of mine I’ve met playing baseball, I’ll have them all for the rest of my life.
“People say, ‘Why do you keep playing at 52 in five different leagues?’ ” Currie said. “It’s because of the relationships — everyone comes here to play the game they love.”
For the Orioles, who captured the 28+ Division championship — their sixth since 2009 — it was also a chance to honor their late teammate Matt DiTullio, who died of leukemia last year at age 36.
DiTullio’s dad, Edward, was on the Cape all weekend wearing a number 16 shirt with “Tools” written on the back and cheering on the Orioles from the dugout.
After the games, players and their families set up camping chairs in the parking lots at Eldredge Field in Orleans, Veterans Field in Chatham, Stony Brook Field in Brewster, and Whitehouse Field in Harwich to converse, throw balls for dogs to fetch, and chase their children around the bases.
Roneil Icatar, who has been coming to the Classic for the last eight years with the Connecticut Top Hats, stayed behind with his older son to field grounders on the immaculate Whitehouse Field.
Icatar sees the tournament as a chance to teach the next generation. “I’ve got my son here who is finally starting to play on the big field, and to have him see me on the big field has been awesome,” he said.
OSS Apparel from the Rhode Island Men’s Senior Baseball League captured the 45+ division championship, defeating the Washington Senators.
“This Cape Cod tournament is one of the most competitive around,” said Bob Manowitz with a tip of his hat to commissioner Currie and co-organizer Dan Field. Manowitz has played in the event on the Cape for 25 years. “I can’t imagine a Labor Day weekend without it.”
For more information about the Cape Cod Classic see bostonmabl.com/events/cape-cod-classic.