10.26.08

MLB’s Cape Cod Shakedown

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 10:37 pm by

Sea trash and baseball junkies alike are well aware the summer Cape Cod League, an amateur, non-profit setup dating back to 1885, is a terrific launching pad for the millionaires of tomorrow (3 of the Rays’ starting position players, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett are CCL alumni). Despite the obvious player development benefits to Major League Baseball, MLB Properties is putting the hammer down when it comes to copyright concerns, writes the New York Times’ Katie Thomas in an item from Friday’s paper (link culled from the Eddie Kranepool Society).

Cape Cod teams are being forced to choose between maintaining a link with the major leagues and remaining true to their homespun heritage. In the case of the Chatham Athletics, homespun is winning out. The team has changed its name to the Anglers to sidestep a trademark dispute with Major League Baseball. The teams have a Nov. 1 deadline to abandon their names or purchase team uniforms and merchandise exclusively through licensed vendors.

œWe found that too constrictive, said Peter Troy, Chatham™s president. œWe have longstanding relationships with local vendors.

In addition to Chatham, the Orleans Cardinals have also decided to change their name, although officials have not announced the new one. The other teams with major league monikers ” the Hyannis Mets, the Harwich Mariners, the Bourne Braves and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox ” will keep their names at least through the 2009 season, said Judy Walden Scarafile, the president of the Cape Cod League.

œThis is all about trademarks and trademark law, Scarafile said. œWe totally understand that.

œRight now, one out of six players in Major League Baseball came from the Cape Cod League, said John Reid, the general manager of the Harwich Mariners. œIt™s unfortunate that they™d have to go after us.

Although Harwich is keeping its name, Reid said he received permission from Major League Baseball to continue using local vendors if the T-shirts he sells read only Harwich or Mariners, but not the two words on the same shirt. New designs will need approval from Major League Baseball. He is waiting for a price quote on new home uniforms through the licensed vendor, and expects each uniform will cost $30 to $40 more.

The Harwich team has been known as the Mariners since the 1930s, predating the Seattle team by more than four decades. That is partly why the team chose to stick with the name, Reid said, despite receiving a flood of suggestions like the Boggers or the Sea Captains.

œThere are not too many creative names left out there, Reid said.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but the CCL has withstood greater challenges.  If the league could survive an association with the Freddie Prinze Jr. star vehicle, “Summer Catch”, having to print a few Hyannis Pantsless Kennedys tees shouldn’t be such a big deal.

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