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By Mick Colageo
Standard-Times staff writer
July 28, 2007 6:00 AM

Players' names aren't the only famous ones to tread the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game.

Wareham's Spillane Field, where the game will be played tonight for the fourth time, hosted Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek for the all-star game in 1993 and Mark Texeira and Chase Utley for the showcase in 1999. But the famous name out of the first all-star game at Spillane belongs to a manager — and not one who became a star in baseball.

Lou Lamoriello, who turned the New Jersey Devils into three-time Stanley Cup champions (1995, 2000, 2003), managed the Upper Cape all-stars in 1965, the first time the Cape League All-Star Game was held in Wareham.

"All I remember is it was under the lights," Lamoriello said on Friday after a meeting he conducted as Devils general manager. According to Cape League historian Bruce Hack, Upper Cape nipped Lower Cape 10-9 in an eight-inning game shortened by an 11 p.m. curfew.

"All I remember to a tee is the final series when we won the league championship against Chatham, that was more important," said Lamoriello.

At age 64, he's known for winning, but as a 22-year-old Cape League coach he also took it all in.

"They were great years. Where else could you go play baseball, work for the town — we all had to work, even managing I worked," he said. "Some were town jobs, some were laboring jobs."

Born and raised in Providence, Lamoriello went to Providence College at the age of 16 and played in the Cape League for Orleans after his freshman, sophomore and junior years.

"I can still remember the little cottage the four of us lived on Bank Street in Harwich," he said.

One of his Orleans teammates was original Big East basketball commissioner and former Celtics executive Dave Gavitt.

Lamoriello also played baseball at Thetford Mines of the Quebec Provincial League before Joe Sherman, then a Cape League manager, approached him about taking charge of a team. As Sagamore manager, Lamoriello had the 1965 Cape League championship and his whole life in front of him.

"I can remember every player we had and what they're doing," he said, alluding to shortstop Bobby Schaefer, who is now the bench coach with the Oakland Athletics, as well as the late Neil Houston. "We had a lot of quality players."

Lamoriello returned to the league two years later in Yarmouth, where he managed Bobby Valentine the same year the late Thurman Munson played for Chatham.

"Those were the years when you couldn't have more than two from each college team," he said.

Lamoriello was simultaneously carving out a hockey career that would define him as a professional.

He coached the Providence College hockey team for 11 seasons from 1969-81 before becoming athletic director there and being one of the Hockey East conference's five founders and its original commissioner. He left for the Devils in 1987 and immediately got the team to within one game of the Stanley Cup finals.

Lamoriello had already been honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States four years before becoming GM of Team USA, which won the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. Entering his 20th year as CEO, president and GM of the Devils, one wonders if a slight change of fortune could have altered how deeply he might have become involved in baseball instead of hockey.

"I couldn't answer that," said Lamoriello. "Things have a way of never looking back on anything hypothetical. I'm just looking forward."

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