One-On-One With HCBL President Brett Mauser

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Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League President Brett Mauser has been a busy man since taking over the league in 2012, but it’s nothing he isn’t used to. A hectic schedule is commonplace for Mauser, who turned 35 years old on Saturday.

After being the sports editor for hamptons.com from 2007 to 2010, Mauser took on a number of jobs. He was a full-time reporter/editor for patch.com and was freelancing for a number of publications—including The Press—all the while being in a front office capacity with Hamptons Collegiate Baseball.

Even though he currently is the president of the HCBL, Mauser is also the communications and publications coordinator in the office of enrollment planning for St. George’s University in Grenada. He works at the administrative offices in Great River.

Mauser also splits his time with his family, which includes his wife, Allison, to whom he’s been married for eight years, and their three children: Zachary, 5, Haley, 3, and Liam, 1. They reside in Stony Brook.

Every year since its inception in 2008, when Rusty Leaver created the Hampton Whalers, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball had expanded in some way, shape or form, and that trend continued in 2013, when it broke off as a division in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League to become its own league.

With its first full season in the books, Mauser took time from his busy schedule to talk about the HCBL, how it fared in its first full season this summer and what the future holds.

Question: How did you end up taking over for Rusty Leaver in 2012? Is Leaver involved with the league anymore?

Brett Mauser: While I was working for hamptons.com, I went to write a story on the league and how it was coming together, and I had mentioned to Rusty that I had a background in yearbooks and game day magazines—sports publications, basically. I had told Rusty I could do that for them, so I did, and slowly but surely he added a few things to my plate.

The big step up was in September 2009, when I became the head of the recruitment aspect of the league. When the Leaver family relocated [to Texas] in 2012, that’s when Rusty asked me to step up and become league president, and I guess I did. Rusty is still involved in the league in an advisory sense.

Q: Being director of recruitment for the league couldn’t have been an easy task. What’s easier? Director of recruiting or league president?

BM: I was director of recruitment primarily from 2009 to 2012, but I still recruit. I still do the recruiting—I’ve just taken on additional tasks. Recruiting is one of the biggest parts of the offseason, so recruiting has already started. That’s something that takes up a lot of the day-to-day stuff.

Q: What were some of the first things you felt you needed to do as league president?

BM: The first thing that we did was, we became our own league. This past summer was our first summer as a league, and I think we had built up enough credibility in the eyes of college coaches and college players, and with the blessing of Major League Baseball, so we broke off from ACBL and became our own league. We had been adding a little bit more each year, and it’s really about the recruitment of people who are passionate about baseball, who are willing to put in the time and the effort—and there are so many people who are involved in this organization. While I hold the title of league president, there are roles in this, people who are just as important, if not more important, because there are people doing this year round like I am.

Host families are at the core of what we’re doing—they are truly remarkable. There are more than 100 families on the East End who open up their doors to student athletes who are complete strangers, and two months later they become part of the families, and that’s what truly is the best part of the HCBL. You can go on and on about players’ success, but it’s the stories and the memories and the relationships that are formed during the summer that last far beyond the end of the season. It is wonderful to see.

I think we took a great step forward this summer. We’re hoping to maintain our success as we build on it.

Q: How hard is it to get host families each season?

BM: It is a challenge to find host families each year. We’re fortunate enough to have a number of them who have had great experiences and want to continue doing it each year. We’re always looking for new families who want to enjoy the experience on a different level than just being a fan. It’s certainly a challenge, but we’ll start early this offseason and engage families to take part.

Q: How long were you thinking of going from a separate division in the ACBL to a single league? How difficult was the transition?

BM: I would say that it had always been in the back of our minds as a place we could end up, because we always operated as our own organization, not entirely separate from the ACBL but at least somewhat. Because of that, the transition wasn’t terribly difficult, because our infrastructure remained the same, a lot of our personnel was here. It was just checking off the checklist that was handled at the ACBL level.

When we broke off, we wanted to put in one really good season, putting in what we had been doing all along, which was to show ourselves and MLB that we were a viable organization.

Q: What have been some of the positives since taking over as league president? What have been some of the negatives, or some of the hardships?

BM: I can’t say there are any negatives. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t believe in it or if I didn’t enjoy it. Again, what we’re trying to do isn’t about turning players into professionals, it’s about families coming out to the games—fathers, mothers, daughters, sons—and enjoying a day at the game and have it not impact their wallet. That truly is what it’s all about: free family entertainment. It’s been great to see the communities come out. There are hundreds of fans at various venues throughout the East End.

Q: It’s clearly a labor of love for almost everyone involved in HCBL. Does anyone make monetary gain working for the league?

BM: The great majority of the people involved in HCBL are volunteers.

Q: Do you feel the community supports the league enough? Whether it be financially or by just coming out to the games?

BM: We don’t have tickets, we don’t have official head counts, but this year’s attendance was as strong as any years we’ve had, so I do feel the communities are behind the teams.

Q: Overall, how is HCBL doing?

BM: We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, but we’ve been able to improve area fields. We’ve constructed new dugouts on the North Fork, we constructed a new scoreboard on Shelter Island. We’ve been able to improve different areas each year, and this is just for all of these communities, these are not just our fields. We’ve had a terrific season, and we’re hoping for another terrific week with the playoffs starting this week, and then we’ll hit the ground running as we look toward 2014.

Fred Cambria, our new league commissioner, has tremendous baseball experience both as a player and a coach. He played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he’s coached at all levels, and he was the commissioner for the ACBL, so he has a wealth of experience at the pro, college and summer baseball levels. He has some great ideas for 2014, and we’re looking forward to putting those in place.

Q: What does the future hold for HCBL?

BM: I think that we would look into expansion opportunities. We do want to make sure wherever we go it’s the right situation. In the end, we would like to finish with an even number of teams. We have seven teams now; if we ended up with eight in the near future, we would be satisfied.

We’re always looking to improve the fields in the area. We’ll use this offseason to examine the current facilities and look into ways we can improve them. That’s always what we’re looking to do.

We have a very strong relationship with MLB. This first full season was a great first step in their eyes, and we’re going to try to build it up even further and strengthen it even further.

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