The Herts Falcons have already announced three player acquisitions today and they have made one more late transaction this evening adding catcher, Phil Clark, from the London Mets, which means that he will be eligible to make his Falcons debut this Sunday against the Bracknell Blazers.
Adding Phil Clark is a major coup for Herts. Clark is considered one of the top catchers and third basemen in the NBL so this is a major player acquisition for Herts.
The 33-year-old Australian made his NBL debut in 2004 with the Windsor Bears. The following year he moved to the Brighton Buccaneers. In 2004 and 2005 he reached the NBL Final but ended up on the losing side on both occasions losing to the Croydon Pirates. In the last 4 seasons he has been a member of the London Mets, including the invincible London Mets of 2008 who destroyed the rest of the league losing only one game all season. In that season he was the NBL leader in batting average (.548) and on-base average (.615), which is an incredible achievement considering the superstars who played for the Mets in that year. His NBL career batting average stands at .341 with 4 home runs in the NBL.
The move from the Mets to the Falcons is intuitive as his family relocated to Harpenden in Herts last year. In fact for members of Herts it does not feel like Phil is a new arrival as, despite being a Mets player last year, he has been a regular at Herts training sessions over the last 12 months and also appeared for the Herts White Sharks last October in the 2011 Hunlock Series. He has also had a very positive influence on the Herts Under-17 players who have been involved in those training sessions last year.
Hertsbaseball.com had the opportunity to chat with Phil Clark earlier today about the upcoming season, MLB coming to London and more.
hertsbaseball.com: What would be the key to a successful 2012 season for Herts?
Phil Clark: Herts have acquired some quality experienced NBL players who most have played in the final fours and know what is necessary to get there, as well as win. Consistency and `heart’ (pardon the pun) is going to be the key to Herts success as there are many strong teams out there who are also biting at the bit to win. Provided we can come together as a team, we should do very well this year.
hertsbaseball.com: Which team or teams do you think go into the new season as the favourites to win the NBL?
Phil Clark: This year is somewhat different to most. Previous seasons have always seen the top 2 or 3 being of equal standard. However this season, there appears to be a fairly balanced player quality amongst the teams which will make for a tight season. I haven’t seen every team, so I can only comment on teams from last season and the spring league, but Nationals, Mets, Lakenheath are always going to be favourites. But I hear Essex played well in the spring tournament and Bracknell have found a couple of players – and they were always a threat. So we’ll wait and see.
hertsbaseball.com: What do you see as a realistic target for Herts this year?
Phil Clark: Herts should aim and achieve Final Four. But, there is also no reason why we can’t be aiming for the final play-off and even a championship. The quality and talent is there, we just have to bring that together as a team.
hertsbaseball.com: There is an increased interest and optimism from fans of Herts. Do you have a message for them ahead of the new season?
Phil Clark: If there is one thing that makes baseball great fun, it’s the fans. Come down at home games and support your teams. Baseball can create a great atmosphere and is a very family orientated sport, but that only helps when fans get involved. Fans help make clubs successful and Herts is unique to have such a fan base and it’ll be great to see everyone down at the field when they can make it and this club can grow that bit stronger.
hertsbaseball.com: You are one of several lefties joining Herts this winter. With the short right-field wall at Grovehill Ballpark how much of an advantage is it to have so many lefties?
Phil Clark: I wish I could say a short porch benefits me… but I’m just not that power hitter. But I’m sure there will be some guys in our team who are busting to get out on the diamond on Sunday and create some havoc down the right side.
hertsbaseball.com: British newspapers have reported that MLB is inspecting the Olympic Stadium as a potential venue to host a regular season MLB game in the next few years. What do you think about the prospect of MLB teams coming to town?
Phil Clark: I think that it’s a long time coming. The NFL have been doing this for years now and turned it into a great spectacle where the sport has now increased its coverage and rekindled an old flame of followers and even picked up some new ones along the way. The MLB should be doing this to help boost it’s credentials and place a bigger spot-light on the sport here in the UK and even the continent for that matter with not just a series played here, but a bunch of games over a period of time. My only concern would be that the UK – as a lot of the current players know, is that we lack any decent facility that could a) closely resemble a MLB quality diamond; and b) hold the crowd capacity they would require. I think that BSUK, if they are serious about the sport – along with Sport England and the Government to be fair, need to consider placing some serious finance into helping to deliver a playing quality pitch as a minimum. It’ll be great to see a game close to home though, that’s for sure!
WILL YOU BE WEARING THE HERTS JERSEY IN 2012?
Herts’ recruitment efforts ahead of the new season continue and in fact new players can join at any point during the year. The club welcomes players from complete beginners to accomplished players. 6 to 16-year-olds play for the Herts youth teams while adults (over the age of 14) play for the club’s major and minor league teams. For more details contact Herts Baseball Club.
NBL statistics courtesy of projectcobb.org.uk