The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks have a stacked lineup; now they just need a place to keep those players, and time is running out.
With just weeks until the season gets underway on June 3, the Sharks still need 10 to 12 beds for their players, general manager Russ Curran told The Times.
“The only thing that’s required is that the kid has a bed, a place to store food and cook if they want to, and a place to do laundry,” Curran said. If two players are placed at the same house, Curran typically makes sure one of them has a vehicle, so there’s no transporting the players involved. “They will become family members for life after a summer with them.”
And if you’re wondering about COVID-19: “It’s mandatory for them to be vaccinated to come to the Island this year,” Curran said.
The Sharks play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a wooden bat league that is second only to the Cape Cod Baseball League for the nation’s top-level college baseball players. Players from Texas Tech, Florida, LSU, Georgia Tech, Harvard, and Yale are among those filling roster spots on this team, which Curran says is the best he’s ever fielded on the Island. Trey Leonard, an outfielder from LSU, for example, is batting .333 with four homers and 24 runs batted in.
The players are so good that some of them won’t be coming to the Island until after the season is underway, because their teams are in the college playoffs. Curran will have to fill in with some temporary players to start the season, most likely players who are getting ready for the Cape Cod Baseball League, which starts two weeks after the Sharks season is underway.
“They arrive on June 1, and won’t depart until after we’ve won the championship on August 12,” a confident Curran said of his players.
Jonathan Chatinover and Beth O’Connor know what it’s like to be host parents. Since 2013, they’ve hosted more than 30 college athletes playing for the Sharks.
In a phone interview Sunday, Chatinover and O’Connor said the third floor of their Edgartown home is a wide-open space with four built-in beds and room for two more beds. So each year, they house five or six Sharks players, which is just three players shy of being able to field their own baseball team.
“It’s a great experience to meet kids from all over the country,” Chatinover said. “They want to play baseball, and being able to do it on the Vineyard is a great thing. They’re thankful to be able to play in a league like this.”
O’Connor said the rules are simple. Don’t leave clothes in the washer or dryer, and keep the kitchen clean. Like baseball, players only get three strikes and they lose those privileges. “It’s never gotten to that point,” she said. “I’m not here to clean up after them.”
Both Chatinover and O’Connor spoke about the great experiences and long-lasting relationships they’ve formed with players and some of their families.
“It’s pretty easy,” O’Connor said. “It goes by fast. They come in June and it’s craziness in the summer. They’re here for 11 or 12 weeks. It’s like having six more kids for the summer.”
Having some experience with teens and college kids is helpful, both Chatinover and O’Connor said. Their son, Keith, is a college student now.
Jonathan said he and his son are both baseball fans, and hosting players has made them feel like a part of the team.
Chatinover said the players are expected to be part of the household, as well, and not to disrupt it. “Sometimes, we ask them to walk the dog,” he said. “Everyone’s got to pitch in.”
Both Chatinover and O’Connor said hosting players is a great experience, and creates lasting memories — they have a wall in their house dedicated to the photographs from when the Sharks recognize the host families.
O’Connor said she finds it easier to host more than one player. “We’re so used to having teens and college kids,” she said. “It’s easier to have a couple than one, because it gives them someone to hang out with.”
Curran said anyone interested in hosting a player this year should reach out to him ASAP at 508-813-0380.