New leadership, same great price: Another season of free baseball ahead for Gatemen
The Gatemen are preparing for a new summer of baseball with some of the best college players from around the country.
As always, all home games will be held at Spillane Field — and admission is free.
This year, the team has a new president, manager, and a general manager who was recently inducted into the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Hall of Fame.
New president Andrew Lang said that the team has gained a real asset in its new general manager and coach, Harvey Shapiro.
There’s always turnover in the Cape League coaching staff, Lang said: “Having a new coach is nothing new, but having Harvey as our new coach is something.”
Shapiro started his Cape League career as an assistant manager of the Gatemen, and went on to manage the Falmouth Commodores before spending 18 years with the Bourne Braves. According to the league, Shapiro ranks third in managerial wins in the league’s history, having led teams to win 529 times. While at the Braves, he coached 90 future major league players and led the team to the finals seven times.
Lang said he’s left the recruiting entirely to Shapiro — a former college coach himself, with decades of Cape League experience.
“Knowing Harvey and the type of teams he recruits, likely a lot of Connecticut kids, Louisville kids, a mix of good players from all over the country,” Lang said. “He just goes after the best players.”
The team’s new general manager is Bob Prince, the current head coach at UMass Dartmouth.
“I always like to think that in the GM position, you need to have baseball people involved,” Lang said.
As president, Lang said he’s “not trying to reinvent the wheel.” Most of the improvements he’s working on are “modern twists” to existing programs: Making it easier to sign up for camps online, and beefing up concession stand offerings.
The team’s opening game will be at home this year on June 12 at 6 p.m. — the new start time for all games this season.
“It’s a big thing to have a home opening game on a Sunday,” Lang said. “Hopefully, we’ll have great weather.”
The team will be hosting several special events this year.
The All-Star game will be held in Wareham. The Gatemen were initially supposed to host the game in 2020, but that season was cancelled due to covid. In 2021, the All-Star Game was also cancelled due to covid, although the league played a slightly abbreviated season.
The Gatemen and the Braves will face off at Polar Park in Worcester — home of the Woo Sox — at 6:45 p.m. on July 25.
“We’re very thankful to Polar Park and the Red Sox organization for letting us do that,” Lang said.
Also planned are Fourth of July festivities at the team’s home game against Bourne on July 2 and a Star Wars night in partnership with Lucas Films that’s set to include visits from some of the series’ characters.
Lang said that the team is still looking for volunteers and host families. Host families give Gatemen room and board and are given a stipend of a little under $100 per week, Lang said.
But for true baseball fans, Lang said, the real reward is getting to know future major leaguers.
“It’s a chance to get in on the ground floor,” he said. “Some of these kids turn into all-stars… Nine times out of ten you can tell some goofy story about the kid.”
Lang added that many host families stay in touch with the players through the years and go to see them when they play against the Red Sox — or on the Red Sox. Lang said the team is now open to host families in a wider geographic range: Wareham, Carver, Middleboro, Plymouth, Rochester, and as far as Dartmouth.
Lang said he hopes to expand the Gatemen’s reach across the south coast, which he said has a void in summer baseball programming despite its rich baseball history.
“We don’t want to be the best-kept secret in Wareham,” Lang, a New Bedford native, said.
The team will be hosting several youth clinics this summer, as well as one-day clinics with a number of local Little League teams.
The schedule for all of the Gatemen’s games will be available online at www.gatemen.org, as is registration for youth clinics and information for prospective host families.
“It’s just a good atmosphere to watch a game,” Lang said. “You don’t have to drive all the way to Boston and fight the traffic and pay $250 to watch baseball. You can come to Wareham and watch it for free.”