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Shelter Island Bucks organizers look to summer 2021: Recognize obstacles, but have to plan

Although the COVID-19 pandemic could wipe out the Shelter Island Bucks season for a second summer, organizers are hoping it can happen.

But they’re aware of the many challenges ahead, even if the pandemic is sufficiently controlled to allow for play.

Looming large — even in a year without a pandemic — is lining up enough housing for players who would arrive on the Island at the end of May. General Manager Brian Cass said he currently needs 30 beds, but early outreach to past host families has come up empty.

Some hesitate to commit to bringing someone into their household in view of the pandemic. There’s also a question of how players’ families might react about sending their children to live on Shelter Island during a time when the health crisis, even if under some control, might still be a factor.

Mr. Cass has been reaching out just to get some feedback from Islanders about whether, if the pandemic isn’t a major factor, they would consider hosting this summer.

Julie O’Shea and Adam Bundy have taken over the job of trying to tap into the community to get the same type of feedback. They are contacting past hosts, not to ask for a commitment, but to get a sense of whether there would be enough hosts this summer if the health crisis is under control.

There’s also a question of whether Fiske Field, Which has been the team’s home in past seasons, would be open to the Bucks this summer. That decision is pending, Mr. Cass said.

Frank Emmett and his wife Colleen Smith have hosted in past years and Mr. Emmett has also functioned as a past Bucks general manager.

“We would still be hosts if the coast is clear,” Mr. Emmett said.

Past experience has led to ongoing relationships with players the couple has hosted. But Mr. Emmett said he thinks it’s unlikely a 2021 season will happen for the Bucks. Nonetheless, he credits Mr. Cass and the staff with doing the preliminary work in case there can be a season this summer.

Joanne and Hoot Sherman have hosted in the past and have enjoyed the experience. Sometime in March, the Shermans will have had both inoculations of the COVID vaccine and believe they would be safe. But because of the pandemic, they’ve been unable to do their usual traveling during winter months. They expect to leave the Island by late March and not return for a few months, so that puts them out of the mix to host.

Mr. Cass said in addition to housing, organizing the season requires year-round work. The Lions Club has continued to be dedicated to supporting the Bucks, but Mr. Cass said he still needs others willing to help in various capacities to prepare for this summer so a team can be fielded if the pandemic subsides.

If you want to help, you can reach Mr. Cass at 631-445-0084. If you want to assist with housing, you can reach Ms. O’Shea at 917-405-6750 or Mr. Bundy at 859-552-8449.