TV Presenter, Jerry Springer (centre), paid several visits to see Essex Arrows games in 2009, including making an appearance as an umpire. In 2010 he will be able to follow their progress in the National Baseball League.

Competition will be increasing for the Herts Falcons in the National Baseball League (NBL) in 2010.  The British Baseball Federation (BBF) has just announced the expansion of the league from 5 to, effectively, 12 teams with 3 new teams joining the NBL South and 4 Northern teams forming the NBL North.  Apart from trips to Southampton and Cambridgeshire, the Falcons can look forward to renewing their rivalry with neighbours Essex Arrows.

The following is the full press release issued by the BBF earlier this afternoon:


The National Baseball League (NBL) will have three new teams in 2010. Essex Arrows, Mildenhall Bulldogs and Southampton Mustangs will all be joining the top flight of British Baseball next year.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the British Baseball Federation (BBF) published details of the substantial growth in teams expected to join the league pyramid in 2010 and 2011.

A press release from the Board of British Baseball said, “This is an exciting prospect for British baseball fans and particularly for the baseball communities in the regions of these three clubs. It will provide the National Baseball League with a new level of verve, buoyancy and competition.”

Essex Arrows

The Essex Arrows were founded in 1983 and they have seen many successful seasons over the years including winning the AA League (1985) and the AAA League (1987, 2001). Their previous spell in the NBL culminated with reaching the Final in 1994 when they lost the series 2-1 against the Hull Mets.

Last season they blew away their AAA League opponents with a 25-0 record in the regular season. In the postseason they finished third, losing to Southampton and the eventual AAA League Champions, Harrogate.

Mildenhall Bulldogs

The Mildenhall Bulldogs are yet another team in the long tradition of teams coming out of RAF Feltwell. Most recent examples include the Cambridge Monarchs, who are remembered by fans of British baseball as the team which devastated the AAA League in the last decade. Their achievements included reaching the AAA postseason in five consecutive seasons (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) and becoming AAA Champions twice (2004, 2006).

Due to the war in Iraq, the Cambridge Monarchs were unable to take part in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, but in 2009 they were back in the British League under the name Mildenhall Bulldogs. Their return was triumphant as they clinched the AA League Championship. The team can count on the large talent pool of American players serving in the UK in the surrounding army bases, which over the years has included players like Glen Goodrich and Bob Runyon, the latter a 12th round (372nd overall) draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002.

Southampton Mustangs

The third team which will be entering the NBL in 2010 is the Southampton Mustangs. Since their first season in 2004, the club has been climbing the British baseball leagues. In 2006 they won promotion with a regular season record of 10-2 in the AA League. The following year they reached the AAA postseason at the first time of asking, losing to the Essex Arrows in the Semi-Final of the National Baseball Championship. In 2009 they once again reached the postseason and just missed out on the AAA League Championship losing to the Harrogate Tigers in the Final.

Unique Opportunity

The British Baseball Federation’s decision to expand the league will not only bring excitement to the NBL in 2010, but the hope is that the three clubs will take advantage of this unique opportunity to continue their growth and development, just as Herts Falcons did in 2009.

The three teams are already on their way to doing so with Essex aiming to add a third team soon and establishing its youth programme in 2010, as well as plans for new dugouts and a grandstand at their field in Waltham Abbey. Mildenhall is also aiming to add another team to the minor leagues and are even considering the option to enter one of their youth teams in the BBF youth league playoffs. The Southampton Mustangs already have two adult league teams as well as a strong university programme, with enormous potential for further growth in its large, but as yet untapped market.

The North

Last season the teams in the North were all grouped together in a 10-team league. Next season the Northern Conference will make its return to the National Baseball League, which is another boost for British baseball.

The 10-team Northern Conference will be split into two groups. The upper group will form the NBL North. It will include four teams: Liverpool Trojans, Manchester A’s, Menwith Hill Patriots and the 2009 AAA Champions, the Harrogate Tigers, who were in devastating form in the AAA National Baseball Championship held at Tiger Field in September.

In the coming months the British Baseball Federation will be announcing more details about the 2010 season including the route to the National Baseball Championships, as British baseball prepares for another thrilling season.

Below are satellite images of the ballparks of the three new NBL teams. The National Finals have previously been held at RAF Feltwell (1993) and Waltham Abbey (1984, 1997, 2002).


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