It was an ambitious plan laid out more than a decade ago for a family-friendly collegiate baseball league that would rely on host families and free housing — in the Hamptons, of all places — for players and coaches during the busy summer season.
In an area known best for its pristine beaches, lavish summer parties and multi-million dollar mansions, the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League has persevered on the notion of showcasing America’s game to those who still call the East End home. Between volunteers who run the league, its supporters, host families and fans and children who come out for the games, the common denominator has always been a love of baseball.
The league has grown, and a partnership with Major League Baseball is secure. But it is now experiencing a housing problem because of a diminishing population of locals who can afford to host players without some kind of compensation, and businesses that can financially support the league.
Regional businesses like the Hampton Jitney, Norsic & Son and BNB Bank have stepped up to support the league, and smaller ones have come along to donate goods and services. Those gestures are important, but sustaining a league in one of the most expensive parts of America is going to depend on securing the kind of national corporate sponsors that support a similar league in Cape Cod, where families are paid to host players.
In the short term, parents whose children might benefit from free baseball clinics and private lessons should come forward and house a player for a month or two. Addressing the long-term success of the league, however, will require more resources and effort at the managerial level.
In the meantime, if you happen to have an uncle who works in marketing at Coca-Cola, maybe make an introduction to one of our local general managers. Friendly with a higher up at a large, regional grocery store or car manufacturer? Perhaps they want to put their name on the line and support this important slice of Americana in one of the most lucrative markets in the world. It can’t hurt to ask.