Operating as part of one division within the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League since its inception five summers ago, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball players will be playing in a league of their own starting next summer.
Splitting with ACBL, the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League will now be solely comprised of its own seven teams, after adding two teams to start the 2012 season.
“We are looking forward to taking this next step and working toward becoming one of the elite summer baseball leagues in the country,” said league President Brett Mauser. “Through the efforts and support of many we have reached this point, and we are excited about what the future holds.”
Mauser said that the ACBL's former makeup – comprised of three divisions, including the four-team Kaiser Division and six-team Wolff Division in addition to the HCB – made the playoffs atypical for a sports league.
And geographically, distance between the HCB and the rest of the teams was difficult to deal with at times. The closest ACBL teams are located in Nassau County, with the entire Wolff Division located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Teams from the HCB didn't play Wolff or Kaiser teams until the playoffs.
"Branding the league was a little strange," said Mauser.
That geographical divide forced HCB teams to recruit most of their rosters from outside the area, going as far as California to draw players to the East End of Long Island. Teams in the Wolff and Kiaser Divisions, however, recruit most of their talent locally.
"We have a high density of schools out here," said Tom Bonekemper, president and acting secretary of the ACBL. "Including junior colleges you're talking about 100 schools within an hour of New York City and Pennsylvania."
When founded by Rusty Leaver in 2008, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball modeled itself largely after the Cape Cod Baseball League, one of the country's most popular summer leagues for college players. It has since hosted over 550 players, 17 of whom have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.
Mauser said that he's hopeful the MLB, as well as the National Alliance of Collegiate Summer Baseball, will sanction the HCBL, providing the league benefits such as funding for equipment and perhaps more significantly, use of the MLB brand to promote the league further to prospective players.
Bonekemper, meanwhile, said watching the HCBL go its own way was "like raising a child, and then now it goes off on its own. I certainly wish them the best."