By: Jacob Janower
During Harvey Shapiro’s tenure in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the name of the game for him has been consistency.
Shapiro has exemplified winning year in and year out since taking over the reigns as the Bourne Braves field manager in 2003.
On Sunday, Shapiro was honored with a plaque for achieving 300 wins during his time with the Braves, a milestone that was reached during the 2016 season, signifying an accomplishment that has not been achieved by any other Bourne coach.
That same year, Shapiro also reached 439 wins during his tenure as a manager in the CCBL.
“I’ve had some good players and I don’t necessarily keep track of how many wins I have but it was a nice ceremony,” Shapiro said. “It was nice to have my family there.”
For Shapiro, coaching baseball during the summer in Cape Cod has been a major part of his life and something that has always been special to him.
When he met his wife Lynne, he was working as an IRS Agent, but the passion for coaching baseball always lay within him. Shapiro proceeded to go back to college and coach at Springfield College, Bowdoin College, and the University of Hartford.
It was in 1988 that he first began to coach in Cape Cod as an assistant.
Shapiro used a connection through his mentor Archie Allen, the former CCBL commissioner, to land the initial assistant job. Six years later, Chuck Sturtevant hired Shapiro as the manager of the Falmouth Commodores.
“I started in the Cape because I coached overseas and was looking for something else to do in the summer,” Harvey said.
In 2003, he took over the role as the field manager of the Braves, which he has held ever since.
“I think he sees himself as a teacher first, before a coach,” Lynne said. “He likes building relationships with kids. He likes being around young people. I think that helps keep people young, just being around college kids.”
Lynne has had a first-hand experience in seeing her husband achieve his dream.
She said one of his favorite things is the interaction that he has with the players whom he coaches.
“He likes having players more than one year and building relationships with these boys,” she said. “He keeps in touch with these players, even if he has only had them for one year.”
The Braves team president, Nicole Norkevicius, also noted Shapiro’s ability to work with the players while also fostering relationships.
“He is a teacher first but he also recognizes that he has these players for a short amount of time,” Norkevicius said. “He does a great job blending all of their personalities and attributes into being consistently winning teams.
“His biggest asset to the league has been consistency and purely focusing on baseball,” she added.
Consistency truly has been an instrumental part of Shapiro’s time in the CCBL. Under his guidance, the Braves have made the playoffs in all but two seasons, including winning the West division six times. That accomplishment is made even more impressive due to the fact that up until 2009, only two teams from each division made the playoffs.
The most apparent example of him benefitting from players sticking around was in 2009, when the Braves won the CCBL Championship.
“Maybe on paper it wasn’t his strongest team ever, but there was something about the chemistry of that team,” Lynne said about the 2009 squad. “The thing is, most of those players stuck around. As you can see, there are reasons why they leave. It’s hard when the coach doesn’t send them or the player gets an injury, but that year, the players stuck around.
“The year after that, in 2010, we had ten major leaguers from that team,” Shapiro said. “That may have been the better team. But we got knocked off in a shorter series.”
CCBL Commissioner Paul Galop, who has known Harvey for over 20 years, said he has always seen Shapiro act the same in the dugout, conducting himself with professionalism at all times.
“The kids quickly find out that he knows what he is talking about and he has a lot of contacts,” Galop said. “When you’re being taught by somebody that has the experience and track record, then it is meaningful to the kids. His ethics and his integrity are unparalleled, and the consistency that he shows year in and year out is extremely admirable.”
Someone whom Harvey has taken under his wing for multiple years now is Jordan Tabakman, the Braves pitching coach since 2015.
Tabakman met Harvey when he was a senior pitcher at the University of Connecticut, and the two have been close ever since.
“I think what makes Harvey most successful is his level of preparation and passion towards his players,” Tabakman said. “We spend most mornings discussing lineups and rotations making sure not only we put ourselves in situations to win a game but to make sure we are doing right by our players. And that is all Harvey, he wants the best for each and every player on our roster.”
While there is still the season to complete and more Braves baseball in his foreseeable future, it is clear to see the impact that Shapiro has had on the players and the Cape League.
“He puts so much time and effort into this league to make sure high talented players have an opportunity to showcase their skills in the most prestigious summer league in the country,” Tabakman said. “He has built relationships with some pretty special people that will go a long way.”
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