Play ball! Gliders debut in Dansville with summer NYCBL schedule at Babcock Park

After a year delay due to COVID-19, Dansville's new NYCBL baseball franchise is ready for action

Chris Potter
The Dansville Online
The 2021 Dansville Gliders gather for a photo outside the Dansville American Legion before kicking off the franchise's inaugural season.

DANSVILLE — Play ball! 

Those words were delayed a year due to COVID-19, but the Dansville Gliders are ready to entertain the community at Babcock Park with a local brand of summer baseball. 

The Gliders started their 2021 season in the New York Collegiate Baseball League (NYCBL) Monday with a road trip to Rochester. Dansville made its debut a success with a big 10-1 victory. 

Steve Ackley brought the NYCBL franchise to Dansville, relocating it from Wellsville in Allegany County. The American Legion hosted a meet and greet dinner with players, host families and team officials over the weekend. Ackley and the Gliders are looking to establish a tradition of success in Year 1. 

“This being our inaugural season, our No. 1 season, every record this year is going to be No. 1 for Dansville,” said Ackley. “We’re off to our No. 1 season, and that’s how we hope to finish up the season, No. 1 in the standings. That’s our mindset. We had a very positive, very good dinner.” 

Young baseball fans meet some of the Dansville Gliders during a meet and greet at Burger King in Dansville.

After starting the season on the road, the Gliders first home game is in Wayland June 14 at 10 a.m. in front of the Wayland-Cohocton students on Kids Day. Dansville students will get their turn watching the Gliders June 15 at 10 a.m. Typical Dansville home games will start at 5 p.m. at Babcock Park, with some doubleheaders at 2 and 5 p.m.

Admission will be free to the games. The concession stand, 50/50 table and “shirt shack” with team merchandise will be open for fans. Some special days will be held throughout the season, such as Jon Shay Day on Father’s Day and American Legion Day July 2. 

Young baseball fans receive autographs from the Dansville Gliders during a meet and greet at Burger King in Dansville.

Ackley said the community support in the Dansville and Wayland areas has already been “outstanding." Local business owners and supporters have offered players coupons, whether it’s for a meal at the Sunrise Restaurant, dessert at Angie’s Ice Cream Shoppe or nine holes of golf at Brae Burn. 

“The support has been tremendous and we’ve been welcomed with open arms,” said Ackley. “The biggest thing is we’re starting out new and positive. They’re already starting to see the economic impact of having this franchise in town. This was one of the things I presented in the gameplan to move the team. As far as host families, everyone is pleased with the boys they have.” 

The Gliders have 26 players and around a dozen host families. NYCBL players have big league dreams and spend the summer improving their game. NYCBL alums to enjoy long MLB careers include Tim Hudson and Rajai Davis, who both played for the Hornell Dodgers. 

Young baseball fans receive autographs from the Dansville Gliders during a meet and greet at Burger King in Dansville.

Fans can expect to see some big time improvements to Babcock Park. Ackley listed off 16 foot additions on each dugout for player changing rooms, recoated pipe on the backstop and a new rubber coated black chainlink fence, a rebuilt left field bullpen with a fresh pitcher’s mound and rebuilt catchers pads, a new right field bullpen, colored slats on the home run fence, an upgraded and expanded parking lot, and a new playground for kids. 

“We didn’t plan on doing all this for the first year. COVID actually gave us more time for the updates to get done,” said Ackley. “The village did a lot of the work. Tom Hober and his staff did the pitcher’s mounds. John Sullivan was also involved.” 

Host families and team officials get to know the Dansville Gliders during an opening dinner hosted by the Dansville Legion.

Ackley encourages fans to stop down to the ballpark this summer and check out the team. Player bios will appear in The Express throughout the season. 

Chris Potter can be reached at cpotter@gannett.com or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.