First, let me introduce myself, my name is Tommy Lawrence and I am from West Haven, Connecticut. I play professional baseball in the Can-Am league for the Rockland Boulders, and I am an alumnus of the University of Maine. I am a 5’10 pitcher, I know short for a pitcher, but like Marcus Stroman says, Height Doesn’t Measure Heart. My friend Paul asked me to write about my experience playing in the prestige Cape Cod Baseball League, so naming this article Summer Catch has its reason, even though I didn’t find my Jessica Biel there, I ended up finding her back home.
Courtesy of the Chatham AnglersI had to sit out my first year at the University of Maine after transferring from Winthrop University, but my coach Steve Trimper ended up getting me a temporary contract with the Chatham Anglers, now if you ever watched Summer Catch or heard of the Cape Cod Baseball League you know the history that comes with that team alone. You had the likes of Evan Longoria, Matt Harvey, and many other big name MLB stars to don the A on their hat. Now my first day when I got there I looked around and thought to myself, do I really belong here? There were kids from all these big names schools and other kids that were still playing in the College World Series, you had guys from Virginia Tech, Miami, UNC, and Louisville to name a few. All of them 6 foot tall or bigger, and then there is me a short stocky right-hander from the University of Maine, I had guys ask if we were even Division 1, which kind of pissed me off seeing that Maine probably had moreCollege World Series trips (7) than most other schools. After all the practices and what not, I was still on a temporary contract, it was our first game, and on top of that, I knew all the College World Series kids were going to be done soon, so cuts were going to happen. I ended up pitching in our first game a 1 inning stint, had 2 strikeouts and a ground out. After the game, they offered me a full contract for the summer, and it was like a burden lifted off of my shoulders, and I couldn’t have been any happier. I knew right there I belonged, and it boosted my confidence going into that year. Coach Schiff (John Schiffner), kept telling us how many scouts would be here, all the agents that would come up to you and try and get you, and to be smart when you go out because they all know who you guys are. And when I tell you the whole backstop at games were loaded with scouts, they were, it was absolutely insane. There were cross checkers there, head scouting directors, everyone and anyone who were looking for the next big MLB star. We had kids coming up to us every single game looking for autographs and that is one thing I could never turn down. That was one of the greatest feelings because I remember back in the day when I was that little kid.
Courtesy of the Chatham AnglersI was lucky enough to be able to come back and play another year on the Cape, and boy was that the best decision I could of have ever made. I got to meet with a whole new core of players from all different schools, but this time I knew I was supposed to be there. It is also rare for a player to come back for a second time, but after not getting drafted it was the best move for me. I ended up pitching really well, I was awarded the Top New England Prospect, Most Valuable Pitcher on the team, and on top of that, I finally got the call that every little kid dreams of. The Tampa Bay Rays offered me a free agent deal with a signing bonus of $20,000. Now it came down to one of the toughest decisions of my entire life. Should I sign and forego my senior year at Maine and live out my dream that I have had since I can remember, or finish up school. I talked to a lot of people, Coach Schiff, my coach at Maine, and my parents. I ended up going back to school and lucky enough the next year the Tampa Bay Rays signed me, but more importantly, I have my bachelor’s degree to fall back on because baseball is not always going to be there. Now I did a lot of talking about the baseball side of it, but the best part were the memories I made and the friends that came along with it. I’m not going to go into much detail about what I did up there, but it was fun, to say the least. If you ever catch a Chatham game, go up and ask Coach Schiff if I enjoyed the ride. I met some awesome people, and guys I played with are now in the show, the dream we all had. I was lucky enough to play with some of the best like Chad Pinder second baseman for the Oakland A's, Pat Valaika who plays for the Colorado Rockies, Nick Burdi who can touch 100mph like it's nothing, and one of my best friends Mike Fransoso who went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is now my teammate again with the Rockland Boulders. Playing in the Cape is a dream come true, and helps move that dream even further. If you ever get the chance to play there take it and go with it, because it will be the best time of your life!