This is not a level, stable, protected kind of beach. It is steep, full of long shoulders and curves, and fluctuates in outline not only as a result of storms but with each tide and even with every wave, making new bays, curves, shallow hills, and hollows; but the beach is an interbalanced system. All its materials come from offshore or the erosion of the cliffs. Wave action removes the cliff material, and currents moving parallel to the shore take it both north and south: there being a neutral point around Cahoon’s Hollow, halfway between Highland Light and South Wellfleet, although its location is dependent on the angle at which the waves come in along the shore. Half the cliff material moves north to build up the hood at Provincetown, and half moves south to be deposited along the sandpits from Nauset to Monomoy.
Then, after the ice had come and gone, swallowing the forests in its passage, the warming climate produced a southerly assortment of plants on the land surface. In vivid contrast to the trees of the peat, there now came sycamores, chestnuts, magnolias, sour gums, cedars and poplars, threading their roots through the till and the remains of their buried predecessors. Such southern species were to survive only as long as the interstadial period lasted, and were themselves to fall with the next ice advance.
Meanwhile, streams developed channels in the tree-shaded landscape. They carved down through the till and carried large quantities of it to the sea. The wave-beaten shores of the mainland also yielded their loose glacial debris. As the sea ate into the land’s soft margins, it sorted the materials of the drift. Large glacial boulders, too heavy for the water to move far, remained near the shore. Most of the friable peat quickly became dust. The rest of the debris was caught up in the turbulent eddies and currents of the shore zone. Drawn into the deeper water, it was segregated, by varying weights, into zones of gravel, sand, silt, and clay. The tiny size of pollen grains linked their fate to that of the equally small grains of clay, and together these drifted to the quiet water where they settled down. A thick bed of clay formed.
--- from These Fragile Outposts:A Geological Look at Cape Cod, Marthas Vineyard, and Nantucket by Barbara Blau Chamberlin.
One of the best things about our Cape vacations was taking ourselves out to Cape Cod League ball games and root root rooting for the home team, the Chatham Anglers. Over the years we saw more than a few college players who went on the major leagues, some who became stars, including Evan Longoria,Todd Frazier, and Matt Harvey, who all played for the Anglers, and Buster Posey, who played for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. Part of the fun was the fact on any given night we might very well have been looking at some future big league All-Star and there was no telling at the time who that was for sure---I might have seen Harvey pitch but I don’t remember him particularly. Or Frazier. Probably because neither one did anything memorable in the games I happened to be at. I do remember Longoria, partly because of his name, mainly because he had a great game in the middle of a season when he was tearing up the league. Same deal with Posey. Posey had two championship summers on the Cape, one as a shortstop, the next as a catcher, to drive his name into my head, as if it wouldn’t have stuck otherwise. One of the best baseball names of all time.---but mostly the fun was in watching very good baseball being played in the most old-fashioned of small-town settings in crowds full of families on vacation and locals for whom the games, the league, and the players were part of the rhythms and texture of their daily lives. The players lived with local families and worked jobs at local businesses to put money in their pockets, so for the summer they were members of the community. The games were fun as much for what was going on around them in the stands as for what was happening on the field, and because you could sit so close to the field, you could see what was happening from a player’s or coach’s eye view and little scenes like this were as much a part of the stories of the games as who hit what or made what play or struck out so many batters, and it didn’t matter what the players might go on to be. At the moment, they were just characters in the ongoing dramas and comedies of life on the Cape.
This story, for instance, might be better if I could tell you for sure the prince was Matt Harvey---it could have been---but it doesn’t matter because it’s really the beggar maid’s tale.
And this story might be funnier if the first baseman was now playing professionally and you’d just seen him on TV last night pulling the same trick, but it’s funny enough as it is, even though he doesn’t appear to have made it to the Show or even to the minor leagues.
I miss it. I mean the Cape itself, of course. But also that level and style of baseball. Haven’t been to a game in four years and it’ll probably be some years before we get back to the Cape during the season. There’s a Single A club plays just across the river, the Hudson Valley Renegades. They’re one of Tampa Bay’s farm clubs and, as it happened, Evan Longoria put in part of a summer summer with them, a very small part. Only eight games. Productive eight games, though. Fourteen hits in 33 at bats, 4 home runs, 11 runs batted in. Rays promoted him in a hurry. And Yankee Stadium and CitiField are both a short train ride away. But the Renegades’ park is ugly and uncomfortable and Yankee Stadium and CitiField don’t exactly let you in free. Anyway, I’m spoiled. I want something like what the Cape League offers.
And I just learned I might be able to find around here it next summer.
We’re up visiting Mom and Pop Mannion at the old homestead and this afternoon, on our way out of the restaurant where Pop took us out for lunch, I spotted one of those little cardboard trays you often find on the counters of small stores and diners full of paper schedules for local sports teams. The ones here were for a baseball team.
While I wasn’t looking---that is back in 2011---a league of eight teams made up of college players maintaining their amateur statuses while playing a summer of minor-league level ball was formed in upstate New York, the teams mostly clustered along the northern reaches of the Hudson River and the eastern stretches of the Mohawk. I asked Pop what he’d heard about it.
He’d heard nothing.
Not a good sign, I thought.
If Pop, baseball fan that he is, devoted reader to the two local papers that he is, hadn’t heard of the PGCBL, how good could the play in it be? How viable a league was it?
There’s a PGCBL team not too far from here, about forty minutes north up the Thruway, the Saugerties Stallions, and I’m sure I’ll make it to several of their games over the course of the summer. But on opening day I’ll be in Albany watching the Dutchmen.
Bellizzi Stadium, home field of the Albany Dutchmen. Opening Day, 2014. Photo courtesy of the Albany Dutchmen.