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Bucks management has high hopes of bringing Island baseball back

Meet David Austin. He’s relatively new to Shelter Island as a full-timer, but he and his family have ties to the Town dating back to his wife’s grandparents and parents. And he and his wife, Elizabeth Hanley, believe in public service.

Mr. Austin will soon become well known to Shelter Island Bucks fans if enough housing materializes to enable a return of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League team to Fiske Field.

David Austin.

Mr. Austin and Ms. Hanley bought a house on the Island just before the pandemic gained full force, prompting them to relocate from San Francisco to the place they thought would provide greater safety.

Ms. Hanley is a recent addition to the Community Housing Board, bringing her accounting and financial chops to the work of that group. Mr. Austin is now on the Bucks management team that includes General Manager Brian Cass and Frank Vecchio.

“We both like being involved,” Mr. Austin said. “It’s who we are.”

That ambition is proven by him also being named to the Planning Board.

When he’s not involved in community activities, Mr. Austin works in corporate strategies with technology companies. He’s had a long career with Apple on the West Coast and now is working with a young entrepreneurial company on partnership issues. His work allows him to work remotely.

The hope, he said, is a fresh voice on the Island will motivate more people to open up their houses to Bucks players this summer.

Mr. Vecchio’s long-time involvement with the Lions Club, which has been a supporter of the Bucks — Mr. Vecchio is currently treasurer of the Club — includes working on securing housing, preparing advertising and readying the team for a return for this season.

With Mr. Austin on board, the three men hope they can succeed in bringing back a touch of normalcy to the Island, which has not been able to field a team for the past two summers because of the pandemic.

“The only reason we will not host the Shelter Island Bucks this season will be a lack of housing,” Mr. Cass said.

He noted that he still needs 19 hosts in June and 20 in July.

“Summer will not be summer without the Bucks,” Mr. Austin said.

Host families are asked for little beyond providing beds, a place in the refrigerator for players to put food and a place to launder their uniforms. Host families often invite players to eat with the family, but many days and nights, the players have group events that include most meals.

Because many players arrive with vehicles, there’s no need to transport players to practices and games.

And in past seasons, the players have offered sessions with Island youths to help them develop their baseball skills.

The relationships that start with a single season or part of a season often have developed into ongoing relationships between host families and their players.

Players are well disciplined, but if any problem presents itself, those in charge of the team have been known to send a player back home.

Willing to invite a player or two to share part of the summer with your family or ask questions about hosting? You can reach Mr. Cass at 631-445-0084 or email [email protected]; Mr. Vecchio at 516-317-8687 or email [email protected]; or Mr. Austin at 415-613-1991 or email [email protected]