After 11 years as co-general manager of the Sag Harbor Whalers, Sandi Kruel on Tuesday was named as president of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) after receiving unanimous support from the league’s executive board.
Kruel, a Sag Harbor native whose sons Brandon and Nick pitched for the Whalers during their collegiate careers, will replace outgoing president Henry Bramwell and become the fourth president in HCBL history.
“I have huge shoes to fill,” Kruel said about replacing Bramwell, who also transitioned from being a general manager to league president. “Henry wore every hat you could possibly wear. He was so professional, such a gentleman, so classy. But I totally understand his desire to spend more time with his family.”
Kruel on Wednesday said she has spent much of the last year working alongside Bramwell and is well versed in league operations. She is also the executive board’s liaison to Major League Baseball, which will play an important role in the HCBL’s continued growth. Two of the biggest issues facing the league, Kruel said, is the need for additional corporate sponsorship, and the annual grind to find housing for nearly 200 players and coaches. Addressing those challenges has become increasingly more difficult, Kruel said, as league leadership has either retired or moved on to other pursuits, including her fellow co-general manager of the Whalers, Tom Gleeson, who announced his retirement following this past season.
“It just seemed like it was becoming a snow ball effect with all these changes and the league really needed some leadership,” said Kruel, who also considered stepping aside to spend more time with her third son, Dylan, who is still in high school. “When Henry resigned informally three weeks ago we still had to deal with Major League Baseball, and it was natural for me to just do it.
“Last night the conversation was ‘We need to have somebody as the leader,’” she added about the board discussion. “I was nominated and got it. It’s 12 months to put the show on and then eight weeks of grind.”
The HCBL was established in 2007 with the goal of proving free family entertainment, inspiring young players to love the game of baseball and to give college players an opportunity to showcase their talent before professional scouts. More than 200 HCBL alumni have gone on to play professionally, with 12 former players having reached Major League Baseball. The season traditionally runs from early June through the end of July and into the first week of August.
Kruel said the future will depend on greater involvement on various league committees and new leadership stepping forward. She said she would immediately begin conversations with Major League Basball, which sanctiones the HCBL, about compensating host families with some kind of financial incentive, which is the case in most major collegiate baseball leagues across the country.
“When we talk about host families, we’re not talking about people with 20 bedroom houses. We’re talking about mom and pops,” Kruel said. “It becomes a financial burden.”
Kruel said she has committed to the role of president for the next three years, and will measure her success by the grown and prosperity of the league itself.
“Both financially and recruitment-wise, it’s the best place it’s ever been,” she said. “I see Sag Harbor flourishing from this. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m going to give a 110 percent. I’m totally committed. I think the league is positive for our school districts, our communities and our kids.”