Entering its fourth full season, HCB will now play host to the Shelter Island Bucks and Center Moriches Battlecats, in addition to teams in Riverhead, Westhampton, Southampton, Sag Harbor, and the North Fork.
The added teams serve not only as two more squads to spread the reach and deepen the roster of players in the HCB, but in the opening weeks of their inaugural season, the two have quickly ascended. Center Moriches found themselves in first place quickly, though they currently stand one game out of the league lead. Shelter Island is only a half game behind the Battlecats, and has boasted sizable crowds to start off the year.
"Shelter Island had the strongest fan base in the first week of the season," said league President Brett Mauser, one week into the season. "And Center Moriches has been in first place. So I believe we have a good thing going."
Mauser noted that the Bucks' first home game ever drew about 400 people, well over the average, especially for that time of year. The league president noted that once summer hits, depending on the team, average attendance can range from 100 to 150.
Cori Cass, general manager for the Bucks, said even on a recent Monday night game at Fiske Field, about 150 came out to root for the home team. Cass said many in Shelter Island have been itching to get their own team since the league started in full. Finding families to host the visiting college players, some of whom are coming from the other side of the country to play for six weeks, is often one of the hardest tasks for general managers. But Cass said that's been "one of the easier tasks."
"Once we got through the red tape, everything fell together ... The community has really stepped up and reached out kind of early. No crowd out there can rival ours."
In Center Moriches, GM Ed Morris is taking pride in much of the local talent the Battlecats are putting on Paul Gibson Field, where they play their games at Center Moriches High School. Without taking anything away from his visiting players, Morris - the executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame - is proud to note his squad has more Long Island players on its roster than any team in the league.
"We really wanted to highlight the homegrown kids and show our community to the baseball world," said Morris, adding that in two days, his team will be welcoming two Stony Brook University players to their team - Anthony Italiano and Michael Hubbard - after their return from the College World Series.
After an inaugural season in 2008 which just saw the Hampton Whalers compete in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, four more teams were added in 2009, and the HCBL has since competed within the ACBL.
The 2012 regular season lasts until the end of July.