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March 30, 2021, is embedded in John Daileanes' memory. At roughly 1:30 p.m., he received a life-altering text: he and his family had won the bid for their dream house.
He quickly texted his family, "The house is OURS!", provoking all-caps responses with exclamation points deployed haphazardly.
Two months later, John, his wife Jennifer Daileanes, Jennifer's brother Mike Larsen and Mike's wife Nahall Larsen closed on the house now known as 'Home Plate.' With the edge of its backyard pushing up against the main walkway behind the Veterans Field press box, the house has become a staple of the Chatham Anglers' home park.
The house's most recognizable feature is a row of seats elevated six feet off the ground that peek above a wooden fence, giving its occupants a prized view from the third base side of the field. But hidden from the thousands who regularly attend Anglers games is a complete backyard wonderland. A stone patio in the shape of a home plate hosts a grill, wooden chairs and a firepit. A black and blue hammock dangles under a sturdy tree, and strung-up lights illuminate the area after sundown.
Back when the Daileanes and Larsen families first stayed in the house in the early 2000s though, none of the unique elements were there. The house's only connection to baseball was its vulnerability to foul balls.
'The first time we came down it was just in the newspaper, like, 'house for rent,' and I'm like, 'Okay, Chatham ' I don't know where it is but we're going,'' Jennifer said.
The location of the house was perfect for John. He said baseball was his 'first love growing up,' with his passion for sports trickling down from his dad. He rooted for the Red Sox as a kid and got together with friends in his neighborhood to play baseball. John then went on to play Division III baseball at Colby College in Maine.
When the families began renting around Chatham, John was introduced to the Cape Cod Baseball League.
'I had heard of it, but I had never seen it live,' John said. 'When we came down in 2001 and watched a game, I was so impressed with ' first ' the level of play, and especially the atmosphere here. I was like, 'Oh man, this is what baseball is all about.''
John wasn't the only one infatuated by the league. His son, Andrew, wrote his 12-page high school senior research paper on the CCBL.
Aside from baseball, the sense of community pulled the families in. Their kids entertained themselves at the nearby playground and community center, and the house was a short walk from Oyster Pond and the core of Main Street.
By 2018, the previous owners had fully renovated the property. The house was expanded, the elevated chairs were erected and the backyard became the utopia it is today.
Meanwhile, the families' time in Chatham was limited to weeks of renting. After staying in the house once in the early 2000s, John said the families returned in 2014. Looking for something more permanent, John made a habit of looking online for houses to buy in the area. In March 2021, he saw the house he'd always wanted.
'When I saw it became available, I texted my wife and my brother- and sister-in-law about the house, almost as a joke at first, but then we started talking and it became more serious,' John said.
John first mentioned the house's availability on Friday, March 26. The next day, the families went out to dinner together to celebrate John's birthday, and the idea was discussed further. Initially, it wasn't something that seemed doable, but they pooled their resources and submitted an offer on Sunday.
Their offer was not accepted immediately, as the owners said they wanted to accept bids until noon Tuesday. In an attempt to shift the odds in their favor, Jennifer wrote a letter to the owners and John sent a video.
'I told the previous owners that I know that if we were the future owners of this house that this is something that was going to be basically a life-changer for us and something that we were going to cherish for generations,' John said.
On Tuesday, John received the good news.
'I'm not a very emotional person, but ' I think I shed a couple of tears,' John said.
The 14 months since closing on the house have been a continuation of the families' positive memories from their time renting it. They enjoy the constant activity nearby, whether it be Anglers games or youth clinics that take place on summer mornings.
'I'll turn to my wife and my kids every so often and say, 'Can you believe we own this house''' John said.
They've added to the property, hanging an Anglers banner on the side of 'the dugout' ' a baseball-themed shed in the backyard. On the inside of the shed, they have a bat signed by the 2021 Anglers team.
The families rent the house to others but still take time to enjoy it themselves; John said he and Jennifer have been there at some point during each month of the year. When the families' schedules overlap with Anglers games, the CCBL becomes the centerpiece of the night.
'The days that they're in town, we'll have whoever's around that we know come over,' Nahall said. 'We'll cook and we just enjoy it with whoever's available to come and enjoy it with us.'
The families eat, listen to music and watch the Anglers, and John relaxes on the elevated seats, taking in the view from the third base side.