(G)love at First Sight

By Bill Higgins | Photo by Lewis Glass/Sportspix

It’s been nearly 40 years—37 to be exact—but in the mind’s eye it was yesterday. I was a young man smitten by an older woman—not that much older, just six years to be exact.

This was Cape Cod in the summer of 1980. I was a Boston Red Sox fan who preferred baseball in a park (Fenway). She was a New Yorker raised in the shadow of a stadium (Yankee). Circumstance (delayed by lost luggage) brought us together a few days before, and now, with a crush warming, a local guy hoping to entertain a city woman with an evening of charm found a compromise at a field in Chatham (Veterans).

This is a baseball (g)love story. Marsha remains true to her Bronx heritage while I will never abandon my passion for the Hub. She will always be a Yankees fan and I will continue to worship at the altar of Red Sox Nation. Geographic differences aside, love conquers all.

This summer, just a few months after celebrating 35 years of marriage, we will again be at Veterans Field in Chatham to watch a Cape Cod Baseball League game, just as we were that August night in 1980 on one of our first dates. We’ve been returning to the scene of our times ever since.

Chatham is a showcase in the Cape League and Veterans Field a jewel of a diamond. If ever you desire to show a visitor the quintessential ambiance that is Cape Cod in the summertime, this should be on a short list. It worked wonders for me!

They were the Chatham Athletics then. Now they’re the Anglers, but by any name there isn’t a better baseball environment than cozy Veterans Field at twilight. To savor Chatham in all its finery, stroll Main Street shops, perhaps have an ice cream or pick up a bag of penny candy. If your timing is right, there might even be a band concert at the gazebo in the park.

It’s as if a Norman Rockwell painting has sprung to life, an authentic slice of Americana. And then, baseball, with the sun setting and a hint of seaside saltiness in the air.

All those many years ago, we spread a blanket beyond the outfield fence and watched the action. On other visits, we’ve settled in lawn chairs behind the backstop or in the bleachers, which rise gently above the field in a bowl below.

I retired last year after 43 years in the sports department at the Cape Cod Times. In a farewell column, I reminisced about that rendezvous at Veterans Field with the future Mrs. Higgins. Chatham Athletic Association president Steve West read it and generously invited me to throw out a celebratory first pitch at an Anglers game this summer.

Marsha will be with me, of course. I’ll never root for the Yankees and she’ll forever shun the Sox. That’s OK. Long ago an evening of baseball bliss was pitch-perfect and led to a lifetime of (g)love.

Bill Higgins is a former sports editor and reporter who spent more than 40 years at the Cape Cod Times. The Cape Cod Baseball League season kicks off today, June 14.

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