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Craig Cooper, One Of Cape Cod League's Leading Hitters, Checks In From Brewster

July 19, 2004

Another rising junior has checked in with a Summer Baseball Diary entry, as Irish outfielder Craig Cooper is in the midst of a successful showing with the Brewster Whitecaps. Brewster is tied for first place (16-11) in the eastern division of the Cape Cod League, considered the nation’s elite wood-bat summer collegiate league. Cooper leads the Whitecaps and ranks fourth in the league in three different categories (14 RBI, 5 doubles, 3 home runs), also ranking second on the team in hits (21-for-89) and fifth among Brewster regulars with a .236 batting average (above the team’s .231 batting mark).

Cooper’s other stats include 7 runs scored, 12 walks, 12 strikeouts, 2 hit-by-pitch, 2-of-3 stolen bases, a .393 slugging pct. and a .337 on-base pct. while playing in all 27 games (with 25 starts in the outfield).

The diary schedule is listed below (as is Cooper’s entry) while the following link provides recent updates and team wesbite addresses for all of ND’s 2004 summer players (also see Summer Diary link on baseball main page for all entries from 2002-04):

Notre Dame Baseball 2004 Summer Diaries:

Thur., July 15 – Matt Bransfield (Waynesboro, VA, Generals; Shenandoah Valley League)

Mon., July 19 – Craig Cooper (Brewster Whitecaps; Cape Cod League)

Thur., July 22 – Matt Edwards (Mat-Su Miners; Alaska LEague)

Mon., July 26 – Dan Kapala (Delaware, OH, Cows; Great Lakes League)

Thur., July 29 – Danny Dressman (Faquier, VA, Gators’ Clark-Griffith League)

Mon., Aug. 2 – Tom Thornton (Wareham Gatemen; Cape Cod League)

Thur., Aug. 6 – Sean Gaston (Waterloo, IA, Bucks; Northwoods League)

Mon., Aug. 9 – Steve Andres (Solano Thunderbirds; California League)

Summer Baseball Diary Entry #2 – Craig Cooper, Brewster Whitecaps (July 19, 2004)

Hello Irish Fans! This is Craig Cooper reporting to you from Brewster, Massachusetts and the Cape Cod Baseball League. I am here on the Cape playing for the Brewster Whitecaps. The season is currently about halfway over and the Whitecaps are tied for first place in the Eastern Division and are poised to make a serious run in the second half.

Like most other summer leagues around the country, the players in Cape Cod are all set up with host families. I am staying with the Riedl family, Bob and Linda. They have two children, Rob and Joanna, however they have grown up and moved away from home, leaving me as the only child for the summer. The Riedl’s have been everything that I could have asked for. They have made my time away from the field as enjoyable as the time spent daily at the ballpark.

Aside from being my host family, the Riedl’s also serve as my employers for the summer. I generally work about three hours a day watering flowers, cleaning the pool and doing various other landscaping projects. The latest of these projects is helping to remove an old rock wall that stretches the length of the property. The convenience of working at the house has given me the opportunity to have a little bit of flexibility in my work schedule. Even though not everyone gets to work where they live, the players in the Cape League are set up with a job if they request one. They range from working the youth clinics to working at local deli’s and stores.

One thing that I have noticed that is extremely unique about the Cape League is the location of the teams. Most of the teams are within 30-45 minutes, with some exceptions such as Harwich which is only about three minutes away and Wareham which is about and hour. This is a much different experience from other leagues that have bus rides upwards of six hours.

The fans in the league are incredible. They are extremely knowledgeable about the game and care more about the game and that some of the other things that are going on. Brewster, as Mrs. Riedl has told me, has one of the best fields in the Cape for spectators. There is a huge hill just behind the first-base dugout that goes all the way down the rightfield line. This hill fills up with up to 2,000 people and provides the fans with a great view of the games.

My day usually starts with a morning of work, then it’s time to get a bite to eat and then get down to business. Depending on the time of day, I will join some of the other players and venture up to Cape Cod Regional Tech High School and lift some weights. However, other times I head directly to the field for early batting practice. Games are at 5 or 7 o’clock at night, depending on if the field has lights or not, and we only play one game a day. Playing only one game a day has its ups and downs: no double-headers, but it also reduces the number of off days.

The baseball season here has started off well for us, and even though we have lost a bunch of close games (including three in extra innings) we have given ourselves a shot to make a run at a championship. The team is filled with some very talented guys and they also are a lot of fun. We have been able to have a good time while still competing and playing hard everyday. We have a very strong pitching staff and when our bats provide with a few runs, they are able to shut the door. This is a pretty big task, however, because every day we go out there we are facing some of the best pitchers in the country. It is a challenge that we are glad to face day-in and day-out because we love the competition.

In my travels this summer I have come across one of my Notre Dame teammates, Tom Thornton. He is pitching for the Wareham Gatemen, which is only about 15 minutes from his hometown of Middlesboro, Mass. Tom actually threw against us in our first matchup with the Gatemen and did very well in seven strong innings. I had a chance to catch up with him before our second meeting and it was great to hear about his experiences and how his summer was going.

When Matt Bransfield said, “There is not a lot of free time but that is the life of a summer baseball player,” he hit the nail on the head. Many of us spend the morning working and the afternoon and night playing games. Free time is mostly spent relaxing and hanging around. Of course, being on the Cape, we try to take advantage of the beaches in the area, but we also go to the movies and play cards to pass some of the free time that we so cherish.

I hope that all my teammates are having a happy and successful summer and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Craig Cooper