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Albany Dutchmen promise All-American fun

Brinkman hopes to use his new position to lure people to the ballpark for reasons both professional and personal.

"I do take kind of a personal pride in seeing a local team succeed," he said. "It does disappoint me when they fold."

While both he and Samulski said they strongly support other sports teams in the area, they're proud of the niche the Dutchmen fill, particularly the closeness the players enjoy with the community.

"They're so accessible," Samulski said. "There's no distance between them and the fans."

To that end, every weekend throughout the summer, and often on weeknights, Dutchmen players are out volunteering, whether they're conducting clinics with Little League teams or helping at charity events. Last year, the team held a special day at the stadium for Jacob Shell, a Burnt Hills boy battling cancer, and players passed around a hat to take up a collection for the Shell family -- this despite being college students without paying jobs.

"That story shows that not only do we require them to [be involved], but they want to do it," Brinkman said.

As noble as last year's players may have been, they struggled to win games, putting up an 11-29 record. Brinkman said the Dutchmen weren't brought to Albany until a month or two before the season, which put the team at a disadvantage when it came to recruiting and signing players.

"The product on the field wasn't as good as we had hoped," Brinkman said.

This year, in contrast, prospects were signed months in advance, and Samulski said the organization is eager to give some of the nation's top college players the chance to play in front of scouts and possibly achieve their dreams of being major leaguers.

The roster is dotted with some familiar names, boasting players from Siena College, the University at Albany and St. Rose. Brinkman is also excited about the recent signing of Albany High graduate Mike Hughes, who plays at Coastal Carolina University.

"He's really kind of a bigger name in the area," Brinkman said.

"At the end of the day, there's really good baseball," Samulski said " not to mention live music, bounce houses and other attractions for kids, on-field contests between innings, expanded concessions and a stadium that's recently been upgraded.

"It's a very cozy, intimate environment over here," Samulski said.

For a schedule and other information, visit www.dutchmenbaseball.com.""

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