A Sunday Island Rhode Trip To Watch Sag Harbor Whalers vs Shelter Island Bucks
The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League is a summer college baseball organization featuring 7 baseball clubs located in the Hamptons region of Long Island, NY. The Hamptons, like Rhode Island in the summer, is a very busy stretch of tourist spots, gorgeous beaches and shores, and tons of amazing recreational activities like sailing, golf, and wine tasting, I mean nature walks. And like Rhode Island’s summer collegiate baseball league teams, the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League teams feature top local and national baseball talent, and in particular, baseball talent from Rhode Island.
With the help of a parent or two, a local HS coach, plus researching the rosters of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League’s website – www.hamptonsbaseball.org – I discovered that several Rhode Island players were on the rosters of two teams – the Sag Harbor Whalers and the Shelter Island Bucks – and would be facing each other on a weekend, Sunday June 26th. I reached out to Shelter Island Bucks General Manager Brian Cass about the game, where it was going to be played, and received a warm reply and welcome to visit the game and to check out the “Hamptons Baseball Experience.” Then, I set a course to get to Shelter Island, a place I had never visited, and had only known about as a celebrity hangout for people like Howard Stern and the Mets’ Keith Hernandez. What I found on Shelter Island on Sunday afternoon was so much more enjoyable and rewarding than just a celebrity hangout!
To get to Shelter Island, NY you have to first get to Long Island, NY. Specifically the Greenport section of Long Island. Two ways to get there (I’m 100% sure there are others but for time purposes, let’s say two), that I can recall from my fitness equipment delivery days. One is to drive the equivalent of a flattened out letter “C” down Route 95 South, into CT, into NY, loop onto the Throgs Neck Expressway, to the Long Island Expressway, all the way through Nassau and into Suffolk County to the north end of the Long Island stretch of land. 242 miles, roughly 4 hours and 36 minutes according to Google Maps, and that is absolute best case scenario with just you and your passenger (s) in a car and not a single other car on the road the entire trip!!! In other words, there is no way you are making that trip in 4 hours and 36 minutes, plan on at least 6 maybe more for a trip of that magnitude.
Wow, I am seriously stressed out just thinking about that route. Now, let’s lighten the anxiety a bit and let me tell you the easy and stress free way to travel to that section of Long Island. Rachel and I and the dogs (Nora and Rookie the Weims) booked a 10am ferry out of New London, CT, took a leisurely drive down Route 95 South, about 45 minutes to the ferry terminal. Boarded on time, the ferry left on time, 1 hour and 20 minutes or so of gorgeous summer views of the Connecticut coastline and beaches, tons of boats out on the water, and then, before we knew it, we were in Orient Point, Long Island, NY. AHHHHHH, that was quick and painless and so relaxing. Roughly 2 hours after leaving RI, we were in Long Island and heading to our next ferry/car port terminal in the aforementioned Greenport, NY.
Greenport has a really interesting village area on the street leading up to the car ferry terminal for Shelter Island. We didn’t stop, mainly because of the dog situation, but will definitely be back sometime soon to check out the local shops, restaurants, and businesses along the main street area. $26 got us a round trip ticket to ride over to Shelter Island from Greenport and another chance to check out the sailboats and motorboats out on that blistering hot Sunday morning, now approaching early afternoon. The dogs, Rachel and I were eager to get over to the field, stretch out legs, have some lunch, and then find some shade as the temperatures were already in the upper 80s at around 1pm or so. 10 or 15 minutes of riding across the harbor, we landed in Shelter Island, NY.
From the looks of the main road (Summerfield Place) coming off the ferry to the tree lined neighborhoods and the village area which included a pharmacy and hardware store and bookstore and quaint little restaurants, Shelter Island looks to be pretty well preserved in the small town stratosphere. I absolutely loved the slow drive through the village as we made our way over to Fiske Field, located across from the Shelter Island School. On our way out of town, we passed the Shelter Island Country Club, the Town Hall, the Public Library – all with that same small town, this is how we like it, ain’t broke don’t fix it feel to it. It is one of the reasons why I enjoy traveling to places like Nantucket and Block Island – to get away from the busy-ness of busy life.
About 45 minutes before game time, Rachel and I and the Weims arrived at Fiske Field via Bateman Road. Fiske Field has several fields and a basketball court on the grounds, with the big field being occupied by the Sag Harbor Whalers and the Shelter Island Bucks on Sunday for a doubleheader (2pm and 4pm starts). As we parked and got the leashes on the dogs and stretched out our legs, the two Hamptons League teams were warming up, taking batting practice, and other pre-game routines. There was a good view of the field from our spot next to the basketball courts as well as a decent amount of shade. The two umpires for the game had parked two cars over from us and I asked them if they were calling both games. “Yup,” said the Game 1 home plate umpire, “and we are going to lose some weight in the process,” jokingly referring to the umpire’s gear he had on in addition to his long pants and buttoned up shirt. With temps soaring into the high 80s, I wished him well and told him to drink a lot of water today.
Rachel and I had purchased a case of water before leaving Rhode Island and its a good thing we did. Nora and Rookie were very thirsty dogs and we filled up their water bowl over and over again throughout the trip. From the basketball court area, I spotted a shady area just passed the scoreboard, up a small hill with a perfect view of the field. We grabbed the lawn chairs, the cooler with waters and snacks, and marched Nora and Rookie over to this spot under a huge tree. I was very relieved to find shade for us and the Weims and we made our baseball camp for the day right there in the left field fan section of Fiske Field.
Back in the Spring, I had the great honor of meeting the Santerre family from Bristol. Cory Santerre had emailed me about his son Cam, a standout at Mt. Hope High School and an outfielder on the Rhode Island College baseball team. Cam and I connected on an article this Spring and Cory and I have stayed in contact throughout the year, as he is Cam’s self described “biggest fan.” Great baseball family and wow, what a talent Cory is. I had messaged Cam that I would be attending Sunday’s game and made a point to get over to the Sag Harbor Whalers dugout pre-game to chat with him. Great player, great kid – Cam saw me walking and came up and greeted me with a big hello and thanked me for attending the game. We chatted about his year at RIC, the stolen bases, the team success, his praised his coaching staff, very humble about his talent, and his season in the Hamptons so far. I got to meet his HC Jacob Tobin, who was eager to tell me about his starting Centerfielder and leadoff batter and how Cam was doing really well in the Hamptons. It was awesome to catch up pre-game with the RI native and I wished him well just as the pre-game ceremonies were about to begin.
Cam is the lone Rhode Island player on the Sag Harbor Whalers. Their opponent and the home team for Sunday’s game, the Shelter Island Bucks, had two players on their roster from Rhode Island. Portsmouth, RI and Bishop Hendricken High School grad Conor Kiely started in Left Field and batted 2nd in the Bucks lineup. Kiely attends Stonehill College. And Warren, RI and Mt Hope High School’s Jon Jones got into the game in the 5th inning. Jones attends the University of Rhode Island. I got really lucky and was so psyched to see all 3 outstanding Rhode Island baseball players play and make positive contributions to their teams on Sunday.
For the first few innings, I parked myself on a picnic table right next to the Sag Harbor Whaler’s dugout. It was a great spot to watch the game and take photos. Not too much shade to speak of but great view of the field. And a once in a lifetime occurrence happened that I am happy to tell the tale of. Behind the Sag Harbor/first base dugout was a row of trees and some utility poles. A Sag Harbor batter fouled a ball off into those trees. It hit a tree branch, then another, then rolled on the ground about 20 feet, right to my right foot which was propped up against the backstop. I kid you not!!! It landed right next to my foot. I picked it up and handed it to a game attendant and laughed about the occurrence with the Sag Harbor media team, who also witnessed it. What an amazingly rare baseball occurrence that I will talk about for years and years to come!
After a few innings, I made my way around the baseball field to get some other views and check out the landscape surrounding the field. First observation, Fiske Field is one of those great “Walk Up and Watch” type fields. The field almost invites you to come on down and check out a game. Bullpen mounds are designed like raised flower beds, one for each team on each side of the field. I’m going to use the term “farm stand” style for the dugouts because they looked like they were expertly crafted to look like a farm stand, with pitched roof and wooden benches inside. Fans could take up a spot on one of the picnic tables located around the perimeter of the field, like I did, or sit in the bleachers which were located behind home plate. Netting stretched passed the dugouts for safety and protection of foul balls. The outfield fence was lined with area sponsors. Field was in great shape for baseball. Concession stand was open and very busy. There were a few parking spots next to the concession stand or you could park across the street at the Shelter Island School. There are little walking paths all through the perimeter of the field that connect the main road to the field. I found a set of bleachers in right field with a ton of shade and sat there for an inning to watch the game. I took this video from my shady spot in right field.
I walked back over to chat with Rachel and check on the dogs and met a family of 4 who lived near the field. Mom, Dad, son and daughter were all so excited to have the Hamptons League games back this summer on Shelter Island. The Dad played catch with his son and daughter, and we had a nice chat about baseball and their home town of Medfield, MA. The Dad agreed 100% with the “Walk Up and Watch” comment, as they made their way through the trees of their backyard and into the field a few times for water breaks. I snapped this photo of the boy, who was very eager to catch a Hamptons League home run ball.
A few interesting game notes I jotted down. In Conor Kiely’s 2nd at bat, he flied out to deep center field to Cam Santerre – a Rhode Island connection that was cool to note, a positive one for Santerre, maybe not so much for Kiely. Kiely did get on base in his first AB in the 1st inning, with a walk and then scored. And as of Sunday, Conor is hitting a robust .364 for Shelter Island. On my way out to left field, I had the chance to meet Conor’s parents who had made the trip from Portsmouth on Sunday to watch their son and we chatted about the Rhode Island baseball connection and how cool that was. Nice family, very friendly. Sag Harbor’s Cam Santerre went 1 for 4 with an RBI and of course, 1 stolen base (he had 34 this year at RIC). The one hit, was off of Shelter Island’s Jon Jones, so a 2nd Rhode Island connection that went Cam’s way. Jones would pitch 1 1/3 innings on Sunday, striking out 2 batters. Jones, as of Sunday, is 2-0 for Shelter Island with a 3.37 ERA, 10 innings pitched, 14Ks – impressive.
Game 1 ended with the Sag Harbor Whalers winning over the Shelter Island Bucks 10-5. I walked over and said good-bye to Coach Tobin and Cam and the team and wished them the best for Game 2 and the remainder of the season. It was so awesome to see Cam, Conor, and Jon contributing to their teams and having the opportunity to play against some very talented collegiate baseball players. Speaking of talented collegiate players, one player who did not get in Game 1 for me to watch, but did get into Game 2 (I was already on the ferry home) was Sag Harbor Whaler and Sonoma State University Pitcher Marika Lyszczyk, who recorded the save in Game 2. Here is the tweet from the Sag Harbor Whalers Twitter Page:
Very cool and congrats to Marika on pitching an impressive 1-2-3 inning on (YIKES) 4 pitches!!!
After packing up and packing into the car, Rachel and the Weims and I headed back to the Shelter Island car ferry, then through the cool village area of Greenport, passed the breweries and wineries on Route 25, and back to the Orient Point Ferry terminal. The sun was still beating down on us as it approached 7pm and our departure from Long Island. It was such a fun trip, the Weims were playful and very friendly all day, even running over to me as I was talking to Conor Kiely’s parents. Rachel and I found the shadiest spot at Fiske Field and stayed hydrated throughout Sunday’s super hot and humid temps. On the ferry ride back to New London, I chowed a cheeseburger from the ferry café and just took in the beauty of the ride. It was a good amount of traveling to the Hamptons League and it was 100000% worth the trip. Best of luck to the Sag Harbor Whalers and the Shelter Island Bucks in your remaining games this season. And of course to Rhode Island’s Cam Santerre, Conor Kiely, and Jon Jones – great job representing Rhode Island baseball over there in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. And to Sag Harbor’s Marika Lyszczyk, that is another amazing story and congrats on all your success this year as well. Another successful Rhode trip, another amazing Rhode Island Baseball Experience.
For more information on the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, visit their official website – www.hamptonsbaseball.org.
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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.
Great article! Jon is my son. Couldnt be prouder.