When the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball season kicks off in Southold and the North Fork Ospreys head out to Cochran field, the team will be greeted by brand-new dugouts.
At Tuesday's Southold town board work session, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball general manager Jeff Standish and Sag Harbor Whalers manager Tom Gleeson came to pitch a proposal for new dugouts.
"There are some exciting things going on," Gleeson said, thanking the Town of Southold for its "fabulous" support of the league. "The town is one of the top, if not the top, as far as involvement with the team," he said.
Gleeson said one of the HCB's tenets was to give back to the community, not only with free sports events and clinics for young kids, but by bringing college players into the town to serve as role models for today's youth.
"Last year, one of the guidance counselors at Mattituck High School told me that one of the students wrote his college essay on how having a HCB player live with him during the season influenced him positively," he said.
The goal, Gleeson said, is to instill values and promote sportsmanship and giving back through community service; each player has to donate at least eight hours of community service each season. In addition, another objective is to inspire local youth to plan to attend college.
The new dugouts would be built at no cost to the town; fundraising and donations would be used to garner monies.
This is the first year, Standish said, that the HCB Leauge has parted ways with the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League and stands as its own league.
The reason why the HCB League separated, the men said, is because "the major league felt we had gone past the ACB League. Last year, 19 of the kids were from our division, including nine of the top ten, they said, with some expected to be drafted to the major leagues.
Southold Town Councilman Christopher Talbot thanked Standish and the HCB League and said the town's park and recreation department thought the dugouts were a "fantastic idea. We'd be lucky to have them to dedicate and install."
In the future, a concession stand and bathrooms could be considered, he added.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he was a big supporter of the League and met with founder Rusty Leaver when the idea was born. His concern, he said, involved whether private organizations should make investments on public fields and if that would open the door to conflicts involving individuals feeling entitled to guaranteed use of the fields.
"This is your team, it's not our team," Standish said. "We don't feel we have any ownership. This is what we do. It's there for the community to use."
The group, he added, is completely non-profit and receives grant funding for such projects.
Every year, Gleeson said, $25,000 to $35,000 is raised through donations to get the teams on the fields to provide free games and clinics.
The dugouts would be located in the furthest field of the park, and would provide protection from thunderstorms and inclement weather, he added.
Councilwoman Jill Doherty said the dugout would be "great" for Little League teams when it rains, so players and spectators do not have to run to their cars during weather events.
The goal is to have the dugouts completed by sometime in March.