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Shelter Island Bucks poised to play ball

Play ball!

The Bucks are ready to come to the Island at the end of May for what they hope will be a full summer season of baseball at Fiske Field, with away games at the sites of other teams in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL).

While the league can’t require players to be vaccinated, League President Sandi Kruel is encouraging them to get inoculations. But all will have to show a negative test, not the rapid test, for COVID-19 and then quarantine for three days when they get to the Island.

Players will also be tested during the season, Ms. Kruel said.

All seven teams in the HCBL — the Bucks, the North Fork Ospreys, the Riverhead Tomcats, Westhampton Aviators, Sag Harbor Whalers, Southampton Breakers and Long Island Road Warriors —  have a full complement of players, with others seeking spots if any of those who’ve been assigned to teams are unable to play.

Now the challenge is to locate enough hosts for the players. General Manager Brian Cass said he needs beds for 28 players. The GM noted the league will pay a $50 stipend per week to host families. Hosts are asked to provide a bed, room in their refrigerators for players to store food and access to a washing machine and dryer to keep uniforms clean.

Hosts don’t have to transport players to practices or games, and while many in the past have invited players to meals with the family, that’s not a requirement.

“It’s always a challenge,” Ms. Kruel said about housing. Still, she thinks with so many people now inoculated and the wish to return to normalcy, the season can go forward.

Mr. Cass said he understands some may hesitate to host, but he’s hopeful that with the steady availability of vaccines flowing to all who want to be inoculated, people will be more willing to open their hearts and homes to players.

If the season doesn’t happen, it would only be because of a lack of sufficient housing, Mr. Cass said. He has one player who is staying with a friend in Sag Harbor, but needs to house others on Island.

The league and local coaches have always kept a tight rein on players’ behavior and there have been few problems through the years, but on those rare occasions, players failing to adhere to rules have been sent home. Past hosts have attested to the fact that the experience has been positive and many have reopened their homes year after year to accommodate players.

But in this past year of COVID-19, prior to the availability of vaccines, people have been taking a wait-and-see attitude, Mr. Cass said.

If you’re interested in hosting one or more players or have any questions, you can reach Mr. Cass at [email protected] or phone 631 445 0084.

The sign says it all. (Credit: Judy Card photo)