Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who owns the Express?
Strasburg Community Baseball, Inc, a nonprofit, nonmembership Virginia corporation, run by a 9 member board of directors, all locals. The team has a 501©(3) tax-exempt ruling from the Internal Revenue Service and is registered with the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs.
2. Where do the players stay and what does it cost them?
Players stay with host families and it cost them nothing. Host families are required to provide a place to sleep, shower, do laundry, and prepare food. They are not required to provide food for the players. Having said that, practically all host families, especially the moms, figure out what the players like to eat and stock up on whatever they want. Most host families include their players in family meals where possible, and treat the players like sons for the summer.
The VBL has a mandatory $200 per player fee, which can be waived for demonstrated financial hardship, payable pror to the first game.
3. Where can the players work out?
The Express provides a 2 month membership at Anytime Fitness, a 24/7 local workout facility with weights, exercise machines, treadmills, etc. As the name implies, it is literally open 24/7. Some players work out during the day, others after games.
4. How are players selected?
The methods vary, but the prevailing method is through college coach’s recommendation. We have schools we have worked with that we routinely contact for referrals, and receive calls all year long from college coaches looking to place players. We also receive recommendations from pro scouts, and we do some scouting of players within driving range of Strasburg. We receive inquiries from players and sometimes parents as well. Any player signing must have the approval of his college coach , and we call or e-mail the coaches to make sure players are a good fit. Players sign 2 contracts, one with the VBL and one with the NACSB (National Association of College Summer Baseball). Our recruiting is done primarily by Parker Neal, our General Manager. Express players come from all over the country, and from every major conference, including the SEC, ACC, PAC 12, and Big 10, to name but a few.
5. What is a typical day in the life of a VBL player?
A typical day: Out of bed at 10:30 a.m., working out 11:00-1:00, 1:00-3:00 nap, 4:00 at the ball park, 7:00-10:00 game, post game meal, 11:00-1:00 some players gather and play video games, some watch TV, some gather and play pool, ping pong, some host families have pools, some actually go fishing at night (really)-all sorts of things, but most are in bed by 1:00, then get up at 10:30 and do it all over again.
6. How does the team travel?
By bus, either our converted school bus, or occasionally on a chartered-type bus provided by a local church. Most trips are 30 minutes or less, with the longest being to Covington roughly 2-2.5 hours.
7. Are jobs available for players?
The Express tries to locate summer jobs but they are not always easy to find. Every summer, 4-6 players work for one of our board members on his farm, doing things such as paintinf fences, trimming, digging weeds, replacing fences, mowing, etc. Jobs can’t be guaranteed but we do the best we can and everyone wanting work in 2011 was placed eventually. Jobs generally involve no more than 2-4 hours of work per day. 5-6 players worked at the Express baseball camps.
8. What does the team provide in the way of clothing and gear?
The Express provides home and away game uniforms, socks, belts, and workout shorts and 2 dri-fit workout shirt. We maintain approximately 10 batting helmets in various sizes. We also provide composite wooden bats, Baum Bats in 2016. Players can bring whatever they like- in our 5 year history, 2 league MVP's from Strasburg hit over .400 with the composite bats.
9. What community activities does the Express perform?
Readings at the Town Library, some free mini-clinics for kids, visits to an assisted living facility to talk baseball with some “old timers”, and playdates with a local after-school program.
Our Sunday games feature “Baseball Chapel”, a 10 minute non-denominational Christian devotional service one hour before game time. Attendance is of course optional.
10. What does it cost to play for the Express?
$200, per Valley League rule, which in limited cases can be waived for financial hardship. Players are responsible for their own gas and food money (see #2 above.). Many host families provide things such as breakfast cereals, colds cuts, juices, snacks, etc. The Express, through our "Fueling The Express" program, feed the team after every home game. Volunteers sometimes prepare incredible spreads with everything from pork bar-b-que to fried chicken to steak to taco salad to pizza, with all types of deserts, including the Shenandaoph valley favorite, homemade Grapenut ice cream. Occasionally, donors provide a donated catered meal, and the Fueling the Express Coordinator, Christine Sutherly, has several options available.
11. How does one volunteer to work with the Express?
Practically all roles are staffed by volunteers-ticket takers, ushers, Express Train Station workers, grounds crew, scorekeepers, bat boys/girls, PA announcer, Internet broadcaster, National Anthem Coorcinator, etc. In typical Strasburg fashion a lot of folks have simply asked how they could help. Anyone interested in working with the Express can talk to any existing volunteer, or can call Jay Neal, Team President, at 540-459-4041 (work), 540-436-9189 (home), or e-mail to [email protected]. Schedules for ushers, ticket takers, bat boys/girls, and the gift shop are generated a week or so prior to the start of the season. While the pay isn’t great, well, actually isn't anything, interacting with the players and just enjoying the friendship of like-minded purple baseball nuts is priceless. We normally post info about out of season work sessions on our Facebook page.
12. What about Medical Treatment?
The Express has a wonderful certified trainer, Christina Biddle, who is the trainer for the Appalachain State Baseball team during the college season. Occasionally other certified trainers fill in. The home team at all VBL games is required to have a medical specialist-trainer, Doctor, Nurse, or EMT, present in the dugout. The VBL carries an insurance policy, which pays for a portion of baseball-related injuries treatment bills AFTER a player's insurance has paid all amounts available. All otherwise available insurance sources must pay before the limited VBL coverage applies.