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Shelter Island Bucks housing still a serious problem

Bucks General Manager Brian Cass and his assistants had a tough year finding housing for the players. He finally did so, he said, but his frustrations came through when he said to achieve fielding a team this summer, he had to cut four players and rent a house for four others.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said in response to whether the Island would field a Bucks team in 2025. “We’re not the only team with this problem,” he said, questioning if the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League would survive.

“If people don’t step up to host, we’re done,” he said.

The team has been on the road this past weekend, walking away from each game with an exciting win. The Bucks return to play on their home field on Tuesday, June 18 at 5 p.m., with two less pitchers in the lineup because of injuries. Due to this, the Bucks are in need of more arms, which means more housing is needed.

GM Cass said this season’s team is made up of 24 young men, all of whom found housing, but more is needed so other talented pitchers can be brought on.

If you can help, and also have a special Island summer, email GM Cass — [email protected] — or call him at 631-445-0084.

Host families get a $50 stipulation when housing a team member and with the season already in play, there are only about three or four more weeks that the team will need to be housed.

“We hope the Island will continue to open their homes for the team so that we can keep the Bucks tradition going for years to come,” Mr. Cass said.

The answer to the housing crisis may come from Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League President Sandi Kruel, who recognizes the difficulties in finding enough housing for players and, in some years, coaches.

She noted that it was thanks to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) that space for housing was provided to the Southampton Breakers on the Southampton College campus.

“We’ve got to be more creative,” not work harder, but differently, she said.

She believes at least part of the answer lies in better networking. “We have to work as a league to bring people in,” Ms. Kruel said.

Host families speak highly of their experiences, which frequently lead to long-lasting friendships with the players and their families.

Host families are asked to do little — provide a bed, some room in the refrigerator for players to put food, and access to a washing machine and dryer for players to keep their uniforms fresh. Most families provide more because of the relationships they build with their players, who become part of the family with whom they live.

Most hosts enjoy going to the games to cheer on their players. Many hosts have repeated the experience year after year. But inevitably, families who have hosted occasionally have to drop out for a summer because of family needs.

That’s why replacement host families need to fill the void, Ms. Kruel said.

She understands in a small town like Shelter Island, it becomes more of a challenge to find enough housing for the team. She believes the league brings a lot to the table for the towns that field a collegiate team and she’s ready to work with local organizers to help them close the gap in housing.

“We’re going to do everything in our power” to keep the league thriving and its teams being able to continue to play ball, Ms. Kruel said.