For some students, summer is a time to relax and decompress; for others, it is a time to develop résumés and professional qualifications. For a few members of the Hamilton baseball team, it offers the perfect opportunity to improve their game — only a few minutes from campus.

Greg Kopp ’25, Taylor Kaufman ’26, Carlos Castillo ’26, and Daniel Jirgal ’26 are spending the summer playing for the Utica Blue Sox, a local team whose origins can be traced back to the 1930s. The Blue Sox compete in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, which consists of 16 teams from across New York State. While players must be at the NCAA level to be eligible, they represent a mix of Division I, II, and III athletes. 

This range of competition is valuable for college players looking to improve certain aspects of their game, the Hamilton students said. While there are some standout DI talents, Kaufman explained, “The overwhelming majority of players in this league are comparable to the average NESCAC starter.”

Jirgal expressed a similar sentiment, adding, “A lot of the Hamilton guys who are out here are doing really well … it’s nice to see everyone raising their level to play against what is supposed to be better competition.”

Kaufman also mentioned the role of individual accountability in making the extra practice worthwhile. While the summer league coaches touch base with college coaches about specific players, they can only do so much for a roster of 40-plus athletes. “It definitely helps to see new coaches, get new perspectives, and get more reps from better pitching,” Kopp said. “It’s just more baseball all around.”

All four Hamilton players are rising sophomores or juniors; the coaches encourage younger students to participate in off-season leagues before the pressures of internships and summer jobs ramp up. “The summer isn’t just to sit around and get worse at baseball,” Jirgal said. “Everyone should come back better than they were before.” As a collegiate league, there are no tryouts for the team — instead, the Hamilton coaches usually speak with interested players and contact the Blue Sox on their behalf. 


Our varsity athletes compete at the Division III level in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

Though the players come from colleges and universities throughout the country, a tight-knit team has formed thanks to the Blue Sox’s near-daily games. “It’s really easy to get along with everyone,” Kopp said. “I’m good friends with the whole team.” Kaufman reiterated this: “We all have a shared interest in baseball, we play a lot of poker, a lot of hacky sack — I’d say we have a good team culture.”

Aside from this, the team will also bond through activities in the area; recently, they visited a local beach on an off day. None of the Hamilton players are from the region, but they reflected positively on spending the summer on and around the Hill. “It’s nice for it to be warm out,” Jirgal said. “Even though there’s a decent number of people on campus, it’s pretty quiet and calm.”

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