Island Baseball

The big turnout for the Cape Cod Baseball League game held two weeks ago at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School is strong evidence that the league and Vineyard baseball enthusiasts should seriously explore creating a league team for the Island, or moving a league team here.

The Cape summer league — consisting of promising college baseball players swinging the wooden bat used in professional baseball — is one of the best bargains around. Cape residents and visitors get to watch promising players, many of whom will eventually play for major league teams, in an informal, close-up atmosphere. The cost is nominal or nonexistent: the hat is passed or a donation is requested, and fans chip in what they wish.

In truth, there is little to discourage the promise of a Vineyard team.

There is the beautiful new baseball diamond built for the high school team, one that can readily accommodate a Cape league team in the summer months.

There is the convenient, dependable ferry service provided by the Steamship Authority, which in any case would rarely cancel scheduled trips during the summer. The forty-five minute ferry ride each way would not be a bar to visiting teams. Players may well put up with the added travel time for the chance to visit the Vineyard.

And then there is the Vineyard community, already so supportive of high school, Babe Ruth and Little League Teams, which would welcome the opportunity to house and support the players who would give the Island entry into one of the premier training leagues in the nation.

The Vineyard is a natural setting for a summer league team. The population explodes in the season, a good-natured invasion that includes thousands of baseball fans from around New England and the United States. At the same time, the Vineyard is even more rural and less hurried than the Cape.

At a time when the economy is faltering and wallets are tightening, the Cape league likely is in no hurry to consider expansion or relocation. Yet in the afterglow of the success of the July game between the Wareham Gatemen and the Falmouth Commodores, the Vineyard community has an opportunity to start building its case, to make the numbers work, to take the steps to make a Vineyard entry into the Cape Cod Baseball League not only practical, but desirable.

And if that team comes at the price of an accompanying entry from Nantucket — an Island no longer so distant in this era of fast ferries and Cessna commuter planes — what better way to give the league an instant rivalry worthy of the Red Sox and the Yankees?

Let’s play ball.