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The Bucks could be back

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Returning to action for the Bucks Opening Day last June was team mascot Billy Buck with veteran batboy Tate Ford.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Returning to action for the Bucks Opening Day last June was team mascot Billy Buck with veteran batboy Tate Ford.

If by last Monday morning those hoping to save the Bucks Baseball Team had lost all hope, by later in the day, it turns out the team could well return to Fiske Field next spring.With support from the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, a reprieve rests with enough volunteers willing to share in responsibilities so no one has to be overburdened as has happened in the past.

League President Sandi Kruel made it clear that she has been aware of the struggle to replace the 2017 general manager Frank Emmett who announce that for him, it was one and done. At the same time, with word that the league was behind the effort to give the team time to reorganize, Mr. Emmett said he would lead the effort to obtain housing for the Bucks if enough others would get involved.

“It’s not too late to say it can’t happen,” Ms. Kruel said about keeping the summer team on the Island.

“Shelter Island is a huge plus for our league,” Ms. Kruel said, explaining that enthusiasm for the Bucks during the past six years has brought in money and turned out successful teams. Besides its successful most seasons on the playing field, some of its collegiate players have been drafted into farm teams of major baseball franchises.

“We’re not just going to end it,” Ms. Kruel said.

While the league is not wealthy, it does have a little money to distribute to Islanders able to offer Bucks housing. Lions Club members are still willing to keep a concession going at games and Islanders — even in a tough year beset by rain followed by steamy days and more losses than suffered in previous seasons — have cone out to Fiske to cheer on the young collegians.

“I’m hoping they get over the fear factor,” Ms. Kruel said about people hesitating to get involved and keep a Bucks team thriving.

“I just have to stay confident,” she said.

She began recruiting for the 2019 season as soon as the 2018 season ended and said it’s very competitive to get the best players with other leagues seeking the same candidates.

A lot of potential recruits have expressed interest in coming to Shelter Island, Ms. Kruel said.

A few years ago, Montauk was struggling to keep a team alive and wanted to stop for a year to take time to try to reorganize, but the league decided against such a hiatus.

At the same “We can’t play with kids lives like that; we have to have continuity, she said.

A seven-member committee had handled the organizational work but when members heard Mr. Emmett wouldn’t come back as general manager, all but one resigned.

That one is Carol Galligan who refused to quit and set up a new five-member committee, drawing in Mr. Emmett, former town supervisor Hoot Sherman, Father Charles McCarron of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Eddie Brennan, who covered the Bucks for the Reporter in past seasons and considered the possibility of assuming the general manager’s role for 2019.

But ultimately, Mr. Brennan backed off, saying “the bench is too thin,” according to Ms. Galligan. His reference was to too few people willing to volunteer to get involved with the Bucks. He has not returned calls for comment but Mr. Emmett said he thinks there still might be other roles for Mr. Brennan and he would like to speak with him about thoughts he has had.

Father McCarron couldn’t be reached.

Only Mr. Sherman was negative about the idea of trying to keep the team going.

“Unfortunately, it si probably over,” he said. The enthusiasm that was there at the beginning seems to have waned and in a community as small as Shelter Island, it’s difficult to get enough housing for the team.

“There’s just too much to tackle,” Mr. Sherman said. “You need young, active people.”

Dave Gurney, who worked with Cori Cass in bringing a team to the Island and served as general manager for four years said while he loved it, he had to step away to pay more attention to his family.

It’s harder to get enough people to contribute time, money or services, he said.

“It would be a great thing if the team did come back,” Mr. Gurney said, while questioning if there would be enough people willing to step forward to help so that so much didn’t fall on the shoulders of one or two people.

Ms. Galligan wrote an appeal to the community on the op-ed page of today’s paper seeking volunteers to give the team a chance to survive. Her Prose and Comments column is on page 9.

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