Leaders of Bucks step up to plate

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO “Housing is key,” says Bucks official Frank Emmett.

If three local men have anything to say about it, the Shelter Island Bucks will be back at Fiske Field this summer.

Frank Emmett, Brian Cass and John Spinelli have formed a leadership group aimed at sharing responsibilities. One of the factors that almost collapsed the effort to keep the Island’s Hampton Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) franchise going was putting too much work on one set of shoulders year after year.

Mr. Emmett, who was last season’s general manager, sees his role as two-fold:
• Helping Mr. Spinelli to transition into the general manager’s role smoothly while providing support.
• Assisting in identifying housing for players and coaches for the spring-summer season.

“Housing is the key,” Mr. Emmett said. Families stepped up at the start, but it was still difficult to get enough housing for the entire group. This year, with some long-time host families wanting time off, there’s a large need for housing on the Island that is a must if the town is to field a team.

He’s hoping that families with children of Little League age might step up since it’s those children who will have opportunities to have players serve as mentors.

In addition to those benefits to host families, there’s also an effort underway to assist would-be hosts with expenses. Some of that money could come from the HCBL, with other contributions coming from local businesses and individuals.

Host families are asked to provide sleeping space for a Buck and some space in the refrigerator for food as well as access to a washing machine and dryer. A host family has no responsibility for transporting a player, with some athletes having their own vehicles and sharing rides with others.

As for discipline, players know that if they step out of line, no matter how well they play on game days, they will be sent home. Because that has been strictly enforced, host families have encountered few issues through the years with the players they host.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Mr. Emmett said about the Bucks fielding a team in the summer of 2019.

“It’s all about the community itself,” Mr. Spinelli said about his decision to step forward and work with Mr. Emmett and Mr. Cass. As a man who came to the Island 25 years ago, he said reading about the possibility of the town losing the team was what brought him to the table.

“How can I sit there and know I have the time and the knowledge” to join others in keeping the team alive, he said.

He and his family have enjoyed Bucks games in past seasons. To strip away a team so important to the Island’s children would be a disservice, he said.

“It’s a game I know pretty well,” he said about his determination to play a leading role in keeping the Bucks thriving.

Mr. Cass has long been involved with the Bucks but couldn’t be reached in time for this story. HCBL President Sandi Kruel said Mr. Cass had played an important supporting role in past seasons.

The Bucks have contributed more money than any of the other six teams in the league, another reason for Ms. Kruel’s efforts to keep the Bucks alive in 2019.

She has already been recruiting players for the Island team.

Carol Galligan at times has been a committee of one, trying to keep the Bucks alive. She is pleased, she said, with the energy that seems to have rekindled the hope for another Bucks season.

“I couldn’t be more delighted,” Ms. Galligan said. “Virtue isn’t always its own reward, but in this case it is,” she said.

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