Coming of age in the Shark Tank

Oak Bluffs native flourishes with the MV Sharks.


When Oak Bluffs native James Sashin first joined the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, he was a shy, inexperienced ballplayer fresh out of high school. He tried to keep his head down, and didn’t get much playing time.

Now, he’s a fireballing vet who just starred in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s 2023 All-Star Game, serving as the East’s closer in front of scouts from all 30 MLB teams.

A key member of the Sharks’ pitching staff with a 3.21 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 28 innings pitched, Sashin is finishing his third summer on the Sharks, and his seventh year playing in the Shark Tank. 

“It’s like home, playing there … The crowd always gives me extra applause when I come out to pitch,” Sashin says. “It’s nice to see all those old faces; it’s nostalgic.”

Before joining the Toreros at the University of San Diego, Sashin was a Vineyarder, playing four years of baseball at MVRHS’ stadium, also known as the Shark Tank when summer rolls around. His senior year, Sashin helped lead the Vineyarders to a school wins record, and a coveted trip to the state tournament.

But when he graduated to the Sharks in 2018, Sashin was back at the bottom of the totem pole; he was the high school kid who got a roster spot because his parents were hosting Sharks. Sashin pitched only 5.1 innings all season, and had a shaky 6.75 ERA.

The Sharks’ present-day field manager, Billy Uberti, was also part of the Sharks organization back then, serving as an assistant coach. He recalls Sashin’s fastball only reaching the mid-80s, and him not being as big a presence on the team. Two summer stints as a Shark later, and everything’s different for Sashin, he says.

“He’s developed into a tremendous pitcher.” Uberti stated. “He’s so much more socially and athletically confident … He’s loose, popular. People radiate around him.”

Sashin’s fastball now peaks at 96 miles per hour, and it’s among four different pitches in his arsenal, which includes a new splitter that he’s been experimenting with. Sashin knows as well as anyone how much he’s come of age in the Shark Tank.

“Baseball’s such a mental game,” Sashin stated. “I’ve let the experience take over … I’ve become more outspoken, a jokester. The guys look up to me.”

Sashin has lowered his ERA by more than half since his rookie season, as he leads the team in strikeouts pitched this year. The 6-foot, 6-inch veteran played a key role in the Sharks’ championship run last year, and hopes to do so again this August.

Unfortunately, however, this summer will be Sashin’s last playing in the Shark Tank, since his NECBL eligibility expires this year. But regardless of whether the Sharks have another fruitful playoff run, or Sashin’s legacy continues into the MLB, the hometown hero is proud to be a success story and inspiration for the next generation of Islanders.

“I’ve been playing baseball since fourth grade, right around when my family first hosted players,” he said. “It was so cool to go from hosting Sharks to playing with them … I see myself as an example to younger players who [want to pursue] baseball on the Vineyard. I’m proud of that.”