America's League

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Building Lifelong Relationships Through Hosting Players

03/07/2022 10:00 AM

Article By: Kaley Brown

The Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) is well-known for consistently producing Major League Baseball (MLB) talent, but seldom do the host families who house the young men each summer get recognized for the role they play in making that happen.

Few CCBL players call Cape Cod home, so the majority rely on host families to give them a place to stay while they play on one of college baseball’s biggest stages.

If there is any host family who knows what it is like to host Cape Leaguers in their home, it is the Zmuda family.

Lisa and Eric Zmuda, and their two children, have been hosting Falmouth Commodores players since 2010 and they have immense pride in having opened their doors to countless athletes over the last 10 summers.

You could call host mom Lisa, who triples as the Commodores’ secretary and director of housing, somewhat of a professional after a decade of experience bringing on multiple young men every season, being on Falmouth’s housing committee since 2013 and leading the group for the last three years.

“When you first start [as a host], it’s kind of like the first-time mom thing where you bring the child home and you don’t know what to do with them,” Lisa says. “By the end of their stay, it’s hard when it comes time for them to leave.”

Lisa’s husband Eric, who doubles as the CCBL’s commissioner, echoes similar sentiments and acknowledges that there may be a transition period for both the family and the player during the first couple of days.

“You want them to be comfortable just being in your house and being part of your family,” Eric says. “That’s not easy for some people. I’m sure it’s not easy for some players or somebody who’s never hosted a player before.”

One of the first things Lisa does as host mom is talk with the player first and get to know them before she reaches out to the young man’s family member(s) of choice and discuss any questions that they may have for one another. 
Naturally, one of the very first topics brought up between the player and the family is food. Both Lisa and Eric say that the majority of players will be polite and say that they will eat anything, but the Zmudas want to hear specifics.

“Every year, it’s just funny how the player will say for a day or two, ‘Oh, it’s okay. Doesn’t matter, whatever you want to cook is fine,’” Eric says. “After a couple of days they realize, ‘Oh, I can tell you that I don’t like pasta’ or whatever. They just want to please their new host family as much as we want to please them.”

Beyond just feeling comfortable in the walls of the family’s home, the Zmudas also want the player to feel as at ease as possible in the other aspects of their lives. For instance, the family is also dedicated to finding ways to involve the player in conversations and activities that have nothing to do with baseball or their schooling. Annually, the Zmudas enjoy competing in a season-long tournament as a family via a card game or outdoor game such as golf. Looking through a wider lens, both Lisa and Eric emphasize the importance of ensuring that the player truly feels that the Zmuda’s house is also the young man’s home.

Eric reiterates the fact that it is not easy for some people to quickly feel at ease in a brand new house in a brand new part of the country, but when the player does feel that they are a family member, it is a lot of fun and very rewarding. Whether the player a family hosts is only there for a handful of days or the full 10-week CCBL season, Lisa and Eric say that the individual and those in the home become bonded.

“You’ll be surprised how attached you get to these players and how quickly they become a part of your family,” Eric says. “You’ll see how much it hurts when they leave, just like your own kid going to school or college when they leave the nest.”

The first player that the Zmudas hosted over 10 years ago only stayed in their home for one week, but it truly hurt to say goodbye to him when the time came. The young man spent Father’s Day with Eric and got him a gift for the holiday because they had grown so close.

“That was just the first kid!” Eric says. “After that, we were hooked.”

The family remains connected with all of the previous players they have hosted and have been thrilled to watch them grow over the years whether they remain on the professional baseball path or seek another career. While it would be a joy to have a player you host become a Major League Baseball (MLB) player, that is not the goal when it comes to being a host family. To the Zmudas, each player they host holds a special place in their heart regardless of the path they take once they leave the Cape.

“It’s all about the connection and continued involvement we have in their lives and they have in ours,” Eric says. “It’s about giving them the opportunity to further their careers and become whatever they’re going to become in their future.”

Host families are an integral part of the CCBL. Both the family and the player benefit immensely from the relationship they build over not only their time sharing a home, but also for the rest of their lives.

“It won’t be fun when the player has to go because you don’t want your family to leave, but that also gives the opportunity to meet a new player and have another person become part of your family,” Eric says.

If you are on the fence about becoming a host family for the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Zmudas have one message for you:

“You just have to try it,” Lisa says. “You get so much more out of it than you really have to work to put into it.”

“Do it,” Eric says, simply. “You’ll enjoy it. Just do it. If you're interested in becoming involved as a host family, take the plunge. You wouldn't regret it.”


The Cape Cod Baseball League has relied on a community of host families to provide housing to young ballplayers from around the country for decades. Host families play a critical role in making the league everything it can be.

We're excited to be approaching the 2022 season, but we need your help to make it the most memorable yet. If you want to learn more about getting involved as a host family for either of our ten team, email [email protected] and include your location on Cape Cod!