Brendan Sagara

Life In The Minors

By Brendan Sagara

Sunday, July 15, 2001

Host families make players
and coaches from
afar feel at home

AS on any other ballclub at the professional level, the players on the Dubois County Dragons come from a variety of backgrounds.

With players from nine far-reaching states and two foreign countries (England and Venezuela), the routes taken to arrive in the Frontier League are quite diverse.

But what has drawn the two dozen players to this very small town in southern Indiana is the love for the game of baseball, and the pursuit of a dream. With 23 of our 24 having arrived by plane, bus or car (our all-star closer and former Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins farm hand Brian Partenheimer is from nearby Ferdinand, Ind.) housing is a major concern.

With so many games and road trips in an 84-game schedule, the players need only a place to sleep, food to eat, a place to do laundry, and maybe a TV to watch throughout the season.

As with all other short-season clubs, the Dragons are fortunate to have host families to make sure that all these needs are fulfilled.

Here in sleepy, cozy Dubois County, the "host" in host family is somehow lost in the shuffle. To say that the 20 or so summer families of the Dragon players and staff greeted us with open arms would be a gross understatement.

From the moment we arrived in Huntingburg in mid-May, there have been open arms, open wallets, and open hearts. Host families host, feed and entertain the players, receiving only a few season tickets in return from the club.

Being in a town with a population of 5,000, the host family influence is everywhere. Everywhere we go here we meet someone who either knows our families or knows our name and brief life history, complete with hometown and marital status.

The local sport card store owner, Dave Steffenagel, and his significant other, Marilyn Grey, host one of our outfielders, Dustin Delucchi, and our first base coach, Brent Alumbaugh. Besides making sure that all their eating and drinking needs are satisfied at the local watering hole, The Overtime, Dave makes sure that the beer fridge is always stocked in the basement next to the pool table and electronic dart board for when the rest of the boys stop by.

Our hard-throwing reliever, Brent Kelley, a former Arizona Diamondbacks prospect, and catcher Scott Bronowicz, who spent two years in the Atlanta Braves system, take-up the bottom floor of the home of local hair stylist Dana Seib and her husband Kevin. Besides beds and computer use, the boys also get scheduling priority at Dana's hair salon.

Keith Milton, an employee of the Dubois County Herald, houses our first baseman, Michael Peerman, and several team pool parties throughout the summer. His open door policy to his pool is a favorite of the players.

But of course my personal favorite is Viola Scherry, the host mom to myself and team trainer Michelle Landis. A retired grade school teacher, "Vi" as we all call her, always makes us feel like we're members of her family, like one of her own.

Every morning we get the ritual post-it on the kitchen counter to tell us what kind of food we have in the house and where it is. And it better be gone by the time she gets home from her part-time job down the street.

And don't expect to see her seat at League Stadium unattended, ever. She rarely misses a home game, even if it's 100 degrees out. When we're on the road, she listens on the radio as do most of the other host families. Sometimes they even call each other and listen in synch.

And Vi is a spunky one. She and a few other members of the host family network seem determined to find our trainer a suitable man. And God forbid if a girl calls for me. Boy she really gives me the business.

Brendan Sagara, a former University of Hawaii-Hilo pitcher,
is in his first season as a pitching coach for the
Dubois County (Ind.) Dragons

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