CHATHAM – After the dog-pile, the trophy presentation, and all the other hoopla, Don Sneddon and the Wareham Gatemen trotted out to left field following their championship win to meet as a team one final time.
Just like all other 49 games this season, the Gatemen went out to the outfield and met up as a group following the game. They did this whether they won, lost, or tied.
Normally, the Gatemen would meet in the outfield uninterrupted as a quiet hush would come over the ballpark as fans headed for their cars and the ballpark began to pack up.
This time, Sneddon had some spectators as a bevy of media personnel, team interns, and Gatemen fans had stormed the field and now were all gathered around the Wareham skipper as he delivered his championship speech.
“It’s just an awesome feeling. You are the best. You made no doubt in it. Your ninth inning magic came up at the end there just to make sure of it,” Sneddon said to his team during the postgame speech.
The Gatemen, who were all nothing but smiles, looked on and listened to Sneddon for a few minutes before he concluded his speech with this:
“Hell of a job, enjoy this while you can.”
The Gatemen began to cheer loudly and continued on with the celebration of their 2018 Cape Cod Baseball League championship.
With that, Sneddon’s final postgame speech of 2018 was over. It just also happened be his final one in a Gatemen uniform.
Days after winning the CCBL title, Sneddon decided to step down as the manager of the Gatemen for personal reasons.
Don Sneddon gets ready to toss BP during the Fenway workout back in July. Photo by Caroline O'Connor
Sneddon’s total tenor in Wareham lasted three seasons, two of them as the team’s manager. In 2016, Sneddon joined the Gatemen coaching staff as a third base coach and hitting instructor for, then manager, Jerry Weinstein. Weinstein, who had spent this past summer with the Cotuit coaching staff, will return to Wareham to manage the Gatemen in 2019.
Sneddon’s first season as Wareham’s manager came in 2017 when he actually took over for Weinstein. Despite a disappointing 18-25-1 regular season record, the Gatemen made noise in the playoffs.
The team entered the playoffs as the number four seed in the West Division and upset the division champion Falmouth Commodores, sweeping the birds 2-0 in a three-game series.
In the subsequent round, the Gatemen fell to the Bourne Braves in the West Division Finals, losing both games in that series.
This summer, Sneddon led the Gatemen to their eighth championship in team history. Sneddon became just the fifth manager in Wareham history to win a title. In addition, Sneddon’s group became the first Wareham team to win a regular season division title since 2001. With a record of 25-17-2, the Gatemen tied their highest win total over the past 18 years.
In the playoffs, Sneddon and the Gatemen kept the history coming. The 2018 Wareham Gatemen became the first team since the CCBL changed their playoff format in 2010 to completely sweep through the playoffs and win six straight games. They also became the first club to win as a number one seed under this new format.
“Our motto when we started this thing was to win the last game. Only one team wins the last game and they won the last game,” Sneddon said following the championship’s conclusion.
“I didn’t think we’d put six of them together. I thought we’d be here playing for this thing for the next couple days. I’m just real excited it ended the way it did.”
Don Sneddon gets a celebratory bath from Zach Hart (left) and Luke Roskam (right) after winning it all. Photo by Ron Schloerb/Cape Cod Times
Including both regular seasons, Sneddon combined to go 43-42-3 (.505 winning percentage) during 2017 and 2018. In the playoffs, Sneddon went 8-2 to boast an .800 winning clip and a championship to top it off.
“Don [Sneddon] leads with good emotion. He doesn’t let us get too high when we are winning and doesn’t let us get too low when we are losing,” Gatemen outfielder Jakob Goldfarb said earlier this summer.
“We stay even keeled. I think that has been the key all season: just go out there and have fun.”
Goldfarb’s sentiment is shared by many of the Gatemen players.
Whether it was Ryan Garcia among others saying, “Don has been great for us”, Austin Shenton constantly referring to Sneddon as “my guy”, or numerous players saying they would name a pony “Don Sneddon” if they had one, it is easy to see the impact the Gatemen manager had on his team.
Sneddon’s impact in Wareham also extended out of the dugout and reached others in the Gatemen organization and Wareham community.
“Don was always so willing and able to help anyone in any way possible. He allowed me to interview him two times a day every day and was never short about it,” Gatemen sideline reporter Mary Orders said.
“He helped me to perfect my interviewing skills when he really didn't need to. It is not in his job description to talk to us at length, but he always went out of his way to do so and in turn I was able to work on my future.”
Sneddon fields questions from Mary Orders during a pregame interview. Photo by Caroline O'Connor
As the sideline reporter, Orders had the luxury of seeing Sneddon up close during the games, watching how he commanded the dugout.
“He dedicated himself fully to the team the entire year to put forth an amazing product. He was always sure of himself and his decisions and that is an admirable quality,” Orders said.
As the Don Sneddon era officially comes to an end in Wareham, it’s clear that he will always have a special place in the hearts of those over at Spillane Field.
“Don means a lot to the Gatemen. Without him, I do not believe there would have been a championship this year,” Orders said. “I wish him all the best and hope he knows he is a part of the Gatemen family forever.”