The Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) will be searching for new leadership in the coming months as Tom Gleeson, the team’s co-general manager and director of development, has decided to step down.
Gleeson, who did everything from helping to find housing for players and coaches to organizing youth clinics and cooking hot dogs and selling merchandise on game day, announced his intentions with a letter to the editor in this week’s Sag Harbor Express.
“For the past 11 years, I have been involved with the Sag Harbor Whalers as part of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League,” Gleeson said in his letter. “I need to thank so many people from all the host families, to our local sponsors, news people, members of the HCBL and fans. It has been a pleasure to serve you and interact with so many wonderful people that live in our community … I wish that I could thank each of you by name, but it would take up the entire paper.”
Sandi Kruel, who has worked alongside Gleeson as the Whalers’ other co-general manager, said on Tuesday that it has been a long, tough season and that the entire league leadership would meet in the coming weeks to discuss the future.
“I can’t make any decisions for next year at this point. The season isn’t even finished,” Kruel said on Tuesday, noting that the HCBL Championship series between Riverhead and Long Island was still ongoing. “It is such a great thing for this community that I would have to make sure it was passed off to someone who could continue it, if I were to leave.”
Gleeson intends to be involved with the league in some way and said he would help the Whalers during the transition. The grind of finding housing for players is ultimately what led to his decision to retire, he said, along with a desire, at the age of 70, to spend more time traveling with his wife.
“The housing, specifically, had become more difficult,” said Gleeson, who along with other league leaders, works as a volunteer. “This year was our most difficult year, but in the long run, people stepped up and, for the most part, the experiences were wonderful for the host families.”
“We need some younger blood,” he added, mentioning the names of parents in the community who have Little League-aged children and histories with the game of baseball. “It would be better if there were more people involved. We would hate to see it fade away. I think it’s too important to the communities.”
Henry Bramwell, the president of the HCBL, said on Tuesday that it was too early to predict who might return or make their debut next season as a general manager of the Whalers. He agreed with Kruel that it has been a long season and said his focus would be on the field until this week’s championship series had ended.
“I do know from experience that this is the worst time to ask someone how they’re feeling about the league,” Bramwell said. “They’re at their wit’s end.”
Bramwell said he would lead a postseason meeting in the coming weeks to discuss the 2019 season. The one thing he is certain about is the importance of engaging the entire community to pitch in.
“If you don’t reach out to the community, and you don’t reach out to the Little League, it’s not going to happen,” he said.