Have you ever wondered what it’s really like hosting a Shelter Island Buck (or two!) for the baseball season? Maybe you’ve heard there’s a shortage of host families this year and you’ve been toying with the idea.
Do it! Just do it.
In case you haven’t noticed, most of the people who house Bucks players and coaches are repeat hosters. Some have been at it since 2012, when the Island first sponsored a team, and they keep on doing it year after year. They don’t have to host, they want to, and there’s a reason for that.
We were late bloomers when it came to hosting. We talked about doing it when the league began, but, well — you know how it is — there’s always so much going on here. If only baseball season wasn’t in the summer.
Each year my dialogue went like this: Yes, I do want to do it but what with family coming to visit and the house is not all that big and OMG! look at the carpets! I can’t invite strangers into my home until I get those carpets cleaned and I really should re-calk the tub and resurface the kitchen cabinets and catch up on the laundry and those flower beds. Lordy, don’t get me started on those flower beds.
It was so easy to come up with dozens of reasons to say, “Gee, I really want to, but not this year. Maybe someday.”
Someday came in the spring of 2014. It came in the form of Johnnie from the University of Hartford. I had originally agreed to house one Buck, because we have just two spare rooms. That way I could give one to the Buck and save the other for visitors.
But that year there was a severe housing shortage and I was convinced to take in an additional player — Troy from Fairfield University. Johnnie and Troy met for the first time in our kitchen, got along great and blended beautifully with our laidback way of life. They understood right off the bat (so to speak), the concept of my house, my rules,and that here — unlike in baseball — one strike and you’re out. The only issue we had to deal with was bugs.
Johnnie and Troy were from suburban Long Island and not accustomed to life in the wilderness. Earwigs, stink bugs and ticks were not part of their vocabulary. One of them even called his mom at 3 a.m. to tell her there was a moth flying around the light in his room.
She gave him the same advice I would have: “well, turn out the light, dummy!”
Their second day here, one of the boys decided his car was dusty and asked where was the car wash? I pointed to the spigot on the back of the house and the coiled green hose beside it. He frowned and said he’d take care of it after he went to Starbucks. I broke that bad news to him. Gently.
I could tell by the confused look on his face that the kid felt he’d been scooped up in a tornado and dropped at Little House on the Prairieville. He adjusted, though. They both did. And so did we.
If you listen to some people complain about “young people these days” you might be fooled into believing that they’re lazy, greedy and rude. Nope. Not true. Johnnie and Troy, and then the Bucks we hosted the following season, Spencer (Marist) and Ben (UMass Lowell) were each considerate, helpful and well-mannered. They “pleased” and “thank you-ed and yes, ma’am-ed” me so often that sometimes I avoided them because I got tired of hearing it.
Johnnie’s and Troy’s parents and friends made the trek to the East End to watch their games, not just Shelter Island games, but the away ones, too. Spencer and Ben were from out of state, but their families made it to some games, too.
We became friends with the families and still follow their boys (but our Bucks) and their escapades and successes.
With all the wonderful events that happened in 2014 and 2015, I’d say that hosting the Bucks were highlights of those two years. And it was our intention to host two of them again last year, but circumstances kept us off-Island for the spring and into the first few weeks of the season, which begins right after Memorial Day.
So, last summer we were Buckless. We went to a couple of the games but we went for the hot dogs. Because we didn’t have our own foster Bucks to cheer for, we were only passively interested. And it was quieter here last summer. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good summer.
We had company, we did stuff. But when it was over, and I stopped to think about the difference between it and the summers before, I realized that hosting Bucks added an extra element to our lives, an energy and a spark that I missed last year.
You know how sometimes those impulsive decisions — the ones where other people look at you and ask, “but, why in the world?” — can turn out to be the best decisions? This is one of those times. Truly. Don’t over think it. There might be a dozen reasons why you shouldn’t do it.
You can come up with a hundred if you work at it. It’s kind of like deciding to have kids, or pets, or orchids — yes, there may be times when you question your decision. But that’s not often, and in the case of hosting Bucks, it’s not like with kids. You’re not keeping them.
They won’t let you (I know, I tried!) you’re only borrowing them.
We’ve signed up to host Bucks again this year. I could say that we’re doing it for Shelter Island, or for the team, but we’re not. We’re doing it for us.
• A host family supplies a place to sleep and shower, a place to park a car if the player has one, refrigerator space and laundry facilities. That’s it.
• If you want to do more, you can.
• And you set the rules.
• For more information about hosting, contact General Manager Frank Emmett, (631)749-4251, David Gurney, (631) 749-1741 and/or Jon Kilb (631) 749-0021