Every summer, college students begin internships intended to expose them to a particular career, provide networking opportunities and — they hope — lead to a job after graduation. In reality, a lot of internships are spent making coffee, updating spreadsheets and answering phones. But for Mark Gormley '11, a baseball player who aspires to pitch in the major leagues, last summer proved to be a huge step towards his career goal.
As a pitcher for the Hyannis Mets, one of 10 teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League — the nation's premier collegiate baseball summer league — Gormley competed against the best college baseball players in the country. The Cape Cod Baseball League is an unpaid, amateur league from which some of the most famous major league players — including Nomar Garciaparra, Barry Zito, Mark Teixeira and Mo Vaughn — emerged.
Many of the players in the league are from warm-weather schools with big athletic programs, used to large crowds and the constant scrutiny of major league scouts. Gormley said some of his teammates had not even heard of Brown or other Ivy League schools, except Harvard. He said they were "baffled" to learn that there were no athletic scholarships in the Ivy League.
Gormley entered the Cape Cod league after an impressive sophomore season in which he had a team-high 50 strikeouts and a 4.55 earned run average, which earned him the honor of First-Team All-Ivy.
He had an inauspicious start to the season in Cape Cod, after the Brewster Whitecaps declined to renew his temporary contract. But Hyannis Mets Head Coach Chad Gassman, who coaches at Waldorf College in Iowa during the academic year, needed a left-handed pitcher and invited Gormley to join the team as a reliever.
Gormley's performance earned him a full contract for the season and, over time, his confidence grew. He proved that he belonged on the Hyannis Mets when he made the All-Star team as a reserve, "a real honor," Gassman said.
The Cape Cod Baseball League is known for attracting "a certain kind of swagger," in the words of Jim Collins, author of "The Last Best League," which chronicles a season with the Chatham Anglers. Gormley agreed, saying that some players "walked on the field and announced their presence" — not necessarily through their athletic performance, but by their behavior.
For example, a teammate once took his position in the outfield wearing an infielder glove, instead of an outfielder glove that has more padding, and missed a fly ball.
But Gormley, most likely humbled by his experience at the beginning of the season, emphasized that he remained focused on taking advantage of the incredible opportunity at hand, which included the challenge of playing against some of the top draft prospects and exposure in front of major league scouts.
Gormley recalled throwing the baseball when, suddenly, 30 guys raised their radar guns to measure his speed. Gassman acknowledged that players are under a lot of pressure, but he reminds them to treat each game in Cape Cod like any other game and avoid showing off.
"Team was first with Mark," said Gassman, who called Gormley one of the top five most pleasant players that he has coached.
While many unpaid summer interns might look forward to having lunch paid for by their supervisor at the end of the internship, Gormley received a much more substantial reward for his hard work with the Hyannis Mets.
He joined the League's Western Division All-Star team as a reserve for a game at Fenway Park, the home of his favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. He called that night the best experience of his life and a gratifying conclusion to a season that gave him more confidence to take on the competition that he will face this season at Brown.
Gormley says that his primary focus is winning an Ivy League championship this spring, having finished a "heartbreaking" game short of playing in the Ivy League championship last year. Brown Head Coach Marek Drabinski said Gormley's "extremely competitive" attitude will benefit the team this season. Drabinski said he has high hopes for Gormley and would like to see him further develop his changeup and curveball.
Nevertheless, the Major League Baseball draft in June looms ahead for Gormley. Drabinski has talked about this possibility with Gormley and advised him to "go about your business every day as if nobody's watching."
"There's a real good chance Mark gets a pro contract and he signs," said Gassman, who added that he remains confident that Gormley will win as many games as he can for Brown.
Gormley has great expectations for the upcoming season, which begins today in Baton Rouge, La., where the Bears will play the Pepperdine Waves. Mark Gormley will be the starting pitcher.