As hundreds of summer vacationers begin their annual trek to Shelter Island this summer season, a select few will land on the East End planning to catch something entirely different than rays of sun.
After months of planning by the managerial staff, the 25-man Shelter Island Bucks roster will finally arrive on the Island in time for their season opener against the Sag Harbor Whalers on Sunday, May 31.
With the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League entering its eighth season, Shelter Island looks to build on last year’s successes, which included a run to the championship series where the Bucks lost a best-of-three series to perennial powerhouse Southampton. Jamie Quinn, coach at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, will replace Jon Karcich as head coach, aided by returning General Manager Dave Gurney and assistant coaches Scott Donaghue and Casey Buckley.
Coach Quinn is thrilled that college coaches from around the country entrusted their star players to the Bucks, adding that his team “is looking to be the best, both on and off the field.”
The nationwide appeal of the HCBL presents Coach Quinn and his staff with a particular challenge: fielding a team on opening day comprised almost entirely of complete strangers. The Bucks roster features players from locations as diverse as California, Texas, and Louisiana, along with local talent hailing from across the tri-state area.
Despite his extensive coaching resumé, including stops at Hofstra and Long Island University before the USMMA, Coach Quinn has never worked with any of his players. He’s talked to colleagues who know some of the athletes, and expects the finest from his crop of players. “First and foremost, we want to have a winning record,” he said, before adding that the ultimate goal is a return to the championship.
GM Gurney said the Bucks front office “has high aspirations for the entire team,” and echoed Quinn’s goal of bringing a trophy home to Fiske Field. Since all the players will live on Shelter Island for the two-month season,
Mr. Gurney spent the offseason finding residents willing to host players. He estimates that 15 families graciously offered room in their homes, but said that even with some hosts taking two players, the team still needs beds for about five athletes.
If you or someone you know would like to host a player, please contact Dave Gurney at 433-1502.
In light of the close relationship between the community and his team, Coach Quinn reiterated the high expectations he has for the team. “I hope we can be a role model for the entire community,” he said.
“We’re looking to put the best product out there for Shelter Island.”
The team will lose a few players at the beginning of the season when the NCAA Division I regional playoffs begin this week. The Island’s roster includes players from three competing schools: Maryland, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.
While the Bucks’ road to the championship begins this Sunday at Sag Harbor, they must wait until Monday before playing in front of a home crowd at Fiske Field, taking on the Riverhead Tomcats. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m.
Even though a starting lineup is not set yet, everyone is aware of the goals for the 2015 Bucks, GM Gurney said. “We want to make it back to the championship series,” he said. “And we want to win it this year.”