The Yankees got All-Star catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. The Mets got slugger Curtis Granderson and pitcher Bartolo Colon. Big deal. Montauk is getting an entire team. The Hamptons hot stove league has come to a boil as residents of Montauk learned they should get ready to go from the beach to the ball field next summer, as the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League announced that the league’s seventh team, the Montauk Mustangs, will begin play in June 2014.
“Establishing a team in Montauk has been on the league’s radar even from the very start, and we’re so pleased that it has come to fruition,” said HCBL President Brett Mauser in a release. “We look forward to bringing free family entertainment to Montauk each summer in the form of high-caliber college baseball action, and thank those in the community and with the school district for pledging their support.”
The squad will play on the field at the Montauk Public School, and the nickname is a salute to the hamlet’s grammar school teams. “[Since] we’re using their field, it’s only appropriate that the college team is the Mustangs, too,” says Mustangs general manager Robert Aspenleiter, a Montauk resident. He hopes that the younger kids will be inspired when they see the older guys walking around town with the same mascot on their uniforms. Aspenleiter has coached baseball for 30 years, involved on and off with various travel and high school teams.
With their admittance into the league, the Mustangs will work with area businesses to renovate the field, including the construction of “The Montauk Monster”—a high fence in left-center. “The field is only 301 feet in left-center. To make it more difficult [to hit homeruns], we have to get the fence a lot higher,” says Aspenleiter. The wall’s name takes its inspiration from the Montauk Monster, a mysterious carcass that washed up on the beach in July 2008, and the Green Monster, a 37-foot-2-inch wall in left field at Boston’s Fenway Park. Fittingly, Montauk holds the unique distinction of being the only Hamptons Collegiate Baseball team that technically plays in Red Sox territory, as opposed to Yankees territory—as the crow flies, Montauk Point is closer to Fenway than to Yankee Stadium, 96.56 miles away vs. 109.27 miles away, respectively.
The Mustangs will join the North Fork Ospreys, Riverhead Tomcats, Sag Harbor Whalers, Shelter Island Bucks, Southampton Breakers and Westhampton Aviators in vying for the league title over the summer. As announced in October, the Center Moriches Battlecats, who played in the league for the past two seasons, will not participate this summer. The 2014 season, HCBL’s seventh, will feature a total of 140 regular-season games, all providing free, family-friendly entertainment. The season culminates with the best-of-three HCBL championship series in the first week of August.
The Mustangs have begun to work with East Hampton schools to get students involved in community service and maybe even get a jump on a career. Grammar school kids would be tapped to be bat boys and girls, while those at East Hampton High School will have the opportunity to announce players as they come up to bat, appropriate for “anyone looking to get into sports management, sports marketing or someone who is comfortable with public speaking,” says Aspenleiter.
Aspenleiter credited Lynden Restrepo, Perry “Chip” Duryea III, Dave Rutkowski, Lee White, Bill McKee and Margaret McKeon with helping establish and develop the Mustangs, building on the blocks laid by Suffolk County Legislator and Montauk resident Jay Schneiderman. “We would especially like to thank the local school board for allowing us to use the facility,” says Aspenleiter, who notes that the team also hopes to begin building a network of families to host players for the two-month season. “The program will never be successful unless we find families to house 27 kids.”
For more information about hosting a player to become a part of the Mustangs committee, email Robert Aspenleiter at [email protected] or call him at 631-903-1010.