As our summer of 2015 on Shelter Island heads toward the finish, I think about all the things that happened in that short period of time. If you speak to some local folks working seven days a week, I’m sure you’ll find them happy to see the season end, while the city folks are not nearly so thrilled.
During my many years working seven days a week and long hours during the summer, I remember I used to call my job, “The Hundred Day War.” I was just like everyone else. When the summer was over, I was happy. After a month of being away from it, no money coming in and not seeing the people, I always wished it could start all over again.
This summer, when I look back, one of my favorite memories will be spending evening hours watching our Shelter Island Bucks. For those not familiar with the Bucks, they are comprised of college players from all over the country who come to Shelter Island and form our team in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
This was a particularly gratifying season since the boys kept us all involved right to the very last out, with the Bucks marching to become the HCBL champions. They finished first in the regular season standings and won it all by defeating the Westhampton Aviators in the championship series.
Last week, General Manager David Gurney passed the torch of GM to Dr. Frank Emmett.
Dave had the original thought about hosting a collegiate team in 2011 and no time was wasted since the Bucks took the field a year later.
At that stage, Dave was fortunate to get Cori Cass to take on the GM responsibilities. Cori worked hard and got the team off to a great start.
Unfortunately, he could only do it for two years before things changed in his life, including family responsibilities and a new job. For those two years, Dave was an assistant GM, but after Cori relinquished his role, Dave Gurney took on full responsibility for the team.
Even though he claimed his wife, Laura, did the bulk of the work while he got the credit, Dave said he was burned out with all the work associated with the position. He gave a lot of credit to Jon Kilb for jumping in this year and taking much of the load off of his back. Along with Jon, in this final banner year, he gave credit to Mark Foard and Jerry Mundy for scoring, Frank Adipietro for announcing, Katie Springer for singing and his “go-to guy” Brian Cass for doing everything he asked.
On August 19, at a meeting in Riverhead with HCBL officials, Dave handed over the reins to Frank Emmett. Dave said he’ll still be involved when needed and he wants more improvements. He noted that a 40-foot net behind home plate was in the works and he very much wants to see his plan for team dugouts to become a reality.
It’s widely known that among all the teams in the league, Shelter Island has the best field, food, announcers, merchandise, volunteers, fans, team and monetary donations. The generosity of the fans during the “passing the hat” phase of the games brings in more money than any other team.
Along with being the best team this year, the Bucks also claimed the top stats with a 27 and 14 overall season record. Eddie Haus led the league in batting with .360; Chris Hess led with 33 RBIs; and Anthony Alicki had the most wins as a pitcher with seven.
Both Dave and Frank feel the only weakness in the program is housing the players, and both men said they had a hard time understanding why this is a problem. History shows that every host family comes away with a good feeling for the young men who stay with them; they follow strict rules or are quickly shown the way home. This year, not one player was sent home and they all keep up connections with their host families.
Frank and his wife, Colleen Smith, have been a host family every year and they say the tradition will continue next year. Colleen works at Eastern Long Island Hospital and will be retiring before the next baseball season. I hope Dave’s wife, Laura, will have a chance to tell her that she doesn’t have to work as hard as she did.
Our new general manager originally hails from Yorkshire, England. Frank taught school in the Virgin Islands for six years before coming to Shelter Island in 1992. He acquired his masters at SUNY Buffalo and taught in the Shelter Island School for 23 years before retiring last month. Without missing a beat, he has already started working full time on the North Ferry.
Frank and Dave said there are so many people to thank for all their help that they wouldn’t even try. But they both wanted to mention their superb manager and coach, Jamie Quinn, who promised them no one would be sent home this season and they would also win the title. He came through on both promises.
Frank is excited about his new position and finally having the extra time to devote to the team. He said that although they have a great group running the program, it’s a small one. If there’s anyone who loves baseball and would like to become a part of the Bucks, Dave and Frank would love to talk to you.
Good luck and you can be sure that I will see you at the games next June.