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Become a Host Family
When the final out has been made, the sun has set, and the post-game meal devoured, the nation’s premier amateur baseball talent needs a place to spend the night.
The Cape Cod Baseball League is successful in large part due to the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time and energy to take care of these future Major Leaguers off the field. Despite these loyal volunteers, the Cape League and the Brewster Whitecaps need more.
Jen Kish, the Brewster Whitecaps’ Director of Housing, housed three boys this past summer, an experience she cherishes more and more each year.
“Meeting the new kids, they’re all from different parts of the country. It’s funny to see how they react to so many new things,” she said.
To be a house parent, Kish requires very little. First a parent should be in contact with the player’s family in advance of their arrival. Upon arrival, the host family provide the player or players a bed, and some space in the refrigerator. She asks you do your best to help them get to practice and games on time. Lastly, it's required that you prohibit the players from breaking curfew and drinking alcohol.
Most importantly, Kish asks that you incorporate your player as if he’s a member of the family.
“Host families (typically) go out of their way to make the player a part of their family, treat them like one of their own. Make them do chores or whatever, make it as normal as possible,” Kish said.
There are more advantages to hosting a ballplayer than the potential to be able to say years later that the next great MLB All-Star spent a summer in your guest room.
Dan Rabold has hosted a player each of the past six summers with his wife, Jennifer, and their two sons, Jackson and Jake. The decision to host a player was an easy one.
“We’re baseball fans, and the boys wanted a player, so we gave it try,” Rabold remembers.
Jennifer and Dan were apprehensive about hosting a college-aged stranger, but their fears were put to rest.
"I have not yet met a ballplayer who isn’t nice and decent. The reason they are here is to play and get noticed, they realize playing in the Cape League is a privilege and an honor,” Rabold said. “They take it pretty seriously.”
Rabold’s sons have 28 older brothers when it is their turn in the rotation to be the team's bat boy. However, for the past two summers when they go home there has been only one guy they’ve want to see, their player – Whitecaps All-Star first basemen Trevor Mitsui - a fact that Mitsui both understands, and appreciates.
“I’m from Washington, I come all the way across the country and these people are so nice. All these kids look up to the baseball players and we’re kind of like their super heroes,” he said. “I love spending time with Jackson and Jake.”
For the Rabold family, an interesting dynamic emerges as the season goes on.
“When my player is up, it’s like watching my own kid,” Dan said. “When he does well, he’s coming back to my house with a smile on his face."
The kind of player you get is up to you. Do you want to go to a game once a week? Then choose a starting pitcher. Is going to every game more your speed? Ask for a position player. Interested in a southerner? How about a Californian? Want more than one player?
Each February, Kish sends out the roster and asks people to make requests. If the host family has no preference, she attempts to go with what they have had in the past. The only goal is to pair up player and a family in spots where they will be happy.
“The (players’) parents thank us because if their sons are comfortable where they are staying, they are going to play better and have more memorable summers,” Kish said.
Once paired up, Kish shares contact information between the two parties so they can begin speaking before the summer begins.
The relationship between the host family and the player doesn’t end when the final out is recorded.
Dan Rabold still keeps in touch with all his players, dating back to his first player, Brent Milleville, a former Cape League All-Star who now runs a baseball clinic in Wichita, Kansas. While his oldest son Jackson, keeps up with all his former housemates through text messages.
Jen Kish’s husband, Rich, says the baseball season is great, but the relationships growing past the summer is what makes the experience so memorable.
“They come back years later, to spend time with us. We still keep in touch, Christmas cards, holidays, Jen and I get calls on mother’s day and father’s day. The camaraderie that you build with the kids (and their family) is just unbelievable."