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Cooperstown Hawkeyes

July 15, 2010

Ballplayers have adjusted to life off the field

— Cooperstown resident Lynne Mebust and her husband, Kai, have three sons ranging in age from 10-14, but after hosting two Cooperstown Hawkeyes players this summer, they feel like they have added two more to the family.

``Hosting the players has been an absolutely positive experience,’’ Mebust, also a village trustee, said recently. ``Now I feel like I have five sons. It’s a great community experience.

We have a rooting interest in the games because of our relationship, and we go to games with other host families. It also draws more people downtown who may not ordinarily be there.’’

One of the players the Mebusts’ are hosting is Jake Saylor, a catcher who will be headed to the University of Cincinnati next fall on a baseball scholarship.

Originally from Arizona, Saylor said he has enjoyed his stay in Cooperstown this summer. ``Playing at Doubleday has been fantastic, and when we walk down Main Street everyone is friendly and polite,’’ Saylor said.

Saylor helped organize a community-service project last Friday in the village, as he and 11 teammates helped set up for the Village Library sale.

``We usually start around 8 a.m. and finish around 6 p.m., but this year we were done by 10:45 a.m.,’’ Mebust said. ``They were a huge help.’’

Saylor said he and his teammates wanted to give something back to the community for their support and encouragement this summer. Cooperstown girls basketball coach Mike Niles, who lives in Oneonta, is hosting two Oneonta Outlaws players this summer. Both are from Division I programs.

Niles said the pair, Mike Cook, a pitcher from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and Mark Perpios, an outfielder from Boston, Mass., have bonded with his 11-year-old son and 5-yearold daughter.

``I didn’t know what to expect, but the Niles’ made it so comfortable for us and I’m loving the relationship we have built,’’ Cook said. ``I live in Phoenix so it was an adjustment getting used to a smaller town like Oneonta, but I lover it here.’’

Cook and Perpios said the competition in the New York Collegiate Baseball League has been even better than they had hoped and is great preparation for their next college seasons.

``If you look at the standing it’s real close, which means you’re getting a battle night in and night out,’’ Perpios said.

As of Monday, the Hawkeyes, 17-11, were in a first place tie with Amsterdam a top the Eastern Division of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, with Oneonta, 18-13, a close second. Cooperstown defeated Oneonta twice over the weekend at Doubleday Field. The regular season ends July 27, with playoffs to follow.

Cook and Perpios said the Outlaws are planning a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame when the team gets a rare day off later this month. ``I was there when I was a kid, but I’m looking forward to going back when I’m a little older and have more of an appreciation of the history of the game,’’ Perpios, a Red Sox fan, said.

Like Mebust, Niles said hosting players gives his family a rooting interest in the games. ``I think we’ve been to every home game except one,’’ he said. ``Our kids love it and it’s a great family event.’’

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