Johnson City

Appalachian League looking for host families for players

It's almost the start of the minor league baseball season here in the Tri-Cities but once the players arrive, they'll need a place to stay.

We're told many of the Appalachian League teams are still looking for host families for their players.

General Manager of the Bristol Pirates, Mahlon Luttrell, said they still need about 10 additional families and the Johnson City Cardinals told us they're looking for about four families.

"We try to have most of our host families take more than one player, typically a minimum of two," said Tyler Parsons, the Cardinals' general manager.  "It just helps them have a familiar face there whether it becomes practice times, where I should be at this time, and its also familiar face for them to talk to."

Parsons told us about third of his players will come here from other countries, like the Dominican Republic and Cuba, but all 35 players will be placed with host families

"Once we get our roster set, we'll do some surveys and interviews with the players and try to find the best matches for our host families," he said.

Parsons told us they'll look at the families' proximity to the field and whether or not they speak Spanish.

The players range in age from 16 to 25. Parsons said the host families give the players structure.

"That's imperative for us with these young guys," he said. "They come here, they have some structure and that's what a lot of these families provide, a mother-father influence, at least someone they can talk to, keep an eye on them."

Parsons told us the host families can be as hands-on or as hands-off as they want.

"A safe place for them to sleep, a safe place for them to do laundry but these guys, they're professional athletes and a lot of them are going to take care of themselves," he said.

Donna Shell, from Elizabethton, knows this better than anyone. She and her husband have hosted Elizabethton Twins players for the last seven years. She told us she's counting down the days until the players arrive.

"I'm planning to have four live here but if it gets hectic and they need more space, we've got air mattresses and we'll make it work," Shell said.

Her home is only blocks away from the Joe O'Brien Field.

"I take foreign ball players because they don't have the cars or the means to be able to rent a car financially or age wise," said Shell.    

She told us us she's hosted players from as far away as Venezuela and met others from Australia and Korea.

"The most I've ever had sleeping here is six," Shell said. "We always have the whole team over, which is 30 guys, once a year."

Shell cooks and does laundry for the players who stay with her. She told us, it's worth it.

"You do what you can do and they're grateful for anything they can receive from you," Shell said.

We're told the Elizabethton Twins are also looking for additional host families and apartments for their players. If you want to host one of their players, they ask you contact their office at (423)-547-6441.

For more information on how to host a Bristol Pirates player you can e-mail the following two addresses: or
You can also call (423)-552-2555 or (276)-206-9946.

To contact the Johnson City Cardinals, call (423)-461-4866

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