Monday can’t come soon enough for Greenport High School’s varsity baseball coach, Mike Reed.
“I’ve just been chomping at the bit since last year,” he said.
And for good reason. For the first time in years, Greenport will have a varsity baseball team to call its very own after sharing one with Southold High School.
Greenport’s former athletic director, Rob Costantini, started the wheels turning for a new team several years ago. The current Greenport athletic director, Todd Gulluscio, stressed there was “no animosity” toward Southold.
“We don’t hate them,” he said. “We have enough kids for baseball.
“We’re very excited about having our own team and look forward to the season.”
Reed admitted he had no idea of how many candidates will try out for the team. “The buzz is a lot of people are coming out,” he said. “You’ll never know until the first day.”
Last year 30 players tried out for the junior varsity team and Reed kept 19. Reed said he will keep 13 players on the varsity squad. “This way, the kids will get to play,” he said. “I hate to see kids on the bench. This way there’s no hard feelings or anything. You get more experience while playing than sitting on the bench.
“I’m honest with the kids. If I have a seventh grader who’s good I’ll bring him. I want a kid who wants to play. I tell him, ‘Give me what you got and I’ll get you 120 percent back.’ ”
As a JV team, the Porters competed in Suffolk County League VII last year, compiling an 8-12 record against Elwood/John Glenn, Southampton, Mount Sinai, Bayport-Blue Point, Mattituck, Hampton Bays and Babylon.
“They did pretty good,” Reed said. “We held our own. We didn’t get blown out. John Glenn was the best team arguably and I lost a couple of squeakers to them. It was a learning process.”
As a varsity team, the Porters will compete in League VIII, consisting of Pierson/Bridgehampton, Smithtown Christian, The Stony Brook School, Bishop McGann-Mercy, Port Jefferson and Southold.
One player who performed on the merged Southold/Greenport team was pitcher-first baseman Shaun Hansen, expected to play a key role for the Porters. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Hansen is “probably the best pitcher in the league,” Reed said. Named one of Long Island’s top 50 baseball players by MSG Varsity, Hansen hit .437 and slugged seven home runs last season.
“You couldn’t ask for a nicer kid on the planet,” Reed said. “Team first. The kid has got all of the tools and he’s got it down. He throws it and he hits the ball a mile.”
Reed enters training camp optimistic.
“I’m so deep in pitching,” he said. “That’s what my thing is, my pitching. We’re all right hitting, but good pitching shuts down hitting.”
So it should not be surprising that Reed has seven players who can pitch, including Sean Charters, Matt Dibble and Bryant Reavis, who also play the outfield, Mark Pagano, Alex Hands, another first baseman, and Brian Lehmann, a knuckleballer.
“He struck out the side against John Glenn,” Reed said.
And that’s not to forget catcher Michael Reed, the coach’s son, senior Peter Andrer and second baseman Anthony Nichols.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Coach Reed said. “I knew down the road we’d have a varsity. So we worked on these kids and that’s a big plus. A lot of these guys go to coaches and camps.”
To say Mike Reed is enthusiastic about baseball is an understatement. A Boston Red Sox fan, Reed was a catcher on the baseball team before he graduated from Greenport High School in 1980. He also is involved with Little League.
“I love the game,” he said. “If the guys want to stay until 8 o’clock at night, I’ll stay to 8 o’clock. If you want to come on Saturday and work from 8 until 12, I’ll stay.”
Reed will have three weeks to organize the Porters for their season-opener at Center Moriches on March 28. The home opener will be against Bishop McGann-Mercy on April 12.
Needless to say, Reed can’t wait for the opener.
“To have a team back, it’s fantastic, just fantastic,” he said, “It’s fun. School sports should be fun. It’s a kid game. Either you love it or you don’t love it.”