Becoming the third general manager in the North Fork Ospreys’ history wasn’t Janet Dickerson’s grand plan. She sort of fell into it.
Dickerson may have felt like a soldier standing in line who had been told she had just volunteered after everyone else in the line stepped back when the call for volunteers went out.
It all started when Dickerson noticed that the team’s previous GM, Jeff Standish, needed assistance. She sensed that Standish was about to leave the club.
“I offered to help Jeff, knowing that he wanted out, and I did see that he needed help,” she said. “So I thought maybe if I stepped in to give him a hand, maybe he wouldn’t be so eager to leave — and it kind of backfired on me.”
Standish stepped down before this Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season and the next in line, the logical choice to succeed him, was Dickerson.
“There’s a lot of work, and in the very beginning I said, ‘No way,’ ” Dickerson said. “I wasn’t doing it.”
Dickerson, who didn’t have a baseball background before joining the Ospreys, said she received encouragement from other GMs before ultimately accepting the post. The seven-team league has four female GMs: Patti White of the Riverhead Tomcats, Sandi Kruel of the Sag Harbor Whalers, Millie Fellingham of the Southampton Breakers and Dickerson.
Dickerson’s association with the Ospreys started when her son, Sam, attended a baseball camp in which Ospreys served as counselors. The assignment for the campers one day was to watch the Ospreys play that night.
“It’s asking them to go to a free baseball game,” Dickerson said. “So, we started to get hooked.”
The following year the Dickersons of Cutchogue became a host family. This is their sixth year as a host family.
Dickerson had served as the assistant GM for the past two years, getting a closeup view of what is involved in GM work by watching Standish.
Still, Dickerson has found that the difference between being a GM and an assistant GM is considerable. What falls under a GM’s umbrella of responsibility?
Just about everything, from finding housing for players to making sure the players are fed to mundane tasks such as bringing water to the field at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. (Dickerson said for home games she picks up ice for the water at the First Presbyterian Church in Southold. “I like to tell [the players] that they’re getting holy water,” she said. Call it divine refreshment.)
Dickerson oversees a 26-player roster and deals with 20 host families. That’s a lot of names and a lot of phone numbers.
“It’s a demanding job,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said. “It takes a lot of time and patience. You’re dealing with a lot of levels of issues and logistics, the roster and all the facility-related things, and all the team business elements of it, so yeah, it’s a big commitment. I think Janet has done a very good job.”
Ospreys third baseman Bobby Romano also spoke highly of Dickerson. “She supports us every game, whether we win or lose, whether we have a great game or whether we have a bad game,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for a better GM, honestly.”
Dickerson said she enjoys the camaraderie and believes the league can grow into something big.
“My focus and goal right now would be primarily to promote the North Fork Ospreys,” she said. “I feel like it’s my team now. I love it.”
“I keep saying that there is no way I can quit now,” she continued. “Now that I’m in this deep, there’s no way I can quit, so I’m going to have to plan my exit by getting thrown out.”
Photo caption: The North Fork Ospreys’ first-year general manager, Janet Dickerson, at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. (Credit: Garret Meade)