Over the last 16 years Herts Baseball Club has built an impressive baseball programme and is currently one of the leading clubs in the United Kingdom. Herts have thriving adult and youth baseball programmes and high grade facilities but the one big component which has been missing has been a softball programme.
hertsbaseball.com had the opportunity to chat with club president, Aspi Dimitrov, about the prospect of softball being played in Hertfordshire.
hertsbaseball.com: We understand that the club is exploring the option to add softball. How did this idea come up?
Aspi Dimitrov: Although baseball is the multi-billion dollar sport watched by millions on TV around the world, a large proportion of people like to show their passion for baseball by playing softball which is the more recreational version of the game. During MLB’s All Star week celebrities and former baseball players get together for the MLB All Star Softball Game and it is the ideal way to get male and female players of all ages and ability playing together. Herts has baseball teams playing in all senior and youth leagues of British Baseball so we are already able to accommodate players of various abilities and ages into our baseball teams, however adding softball would enable us to make the game appealing for an even wider audience.
hertsbaseball.com: When did the idea of adding softball come about?
Aspi Dimitrov: The club has been eager to add softball for many years now and is something which the Herts Executive Board has discussed on many occasions. The main obstacle which has stopped us from making it possible has been that we need one or two members who would be able to give up some of their spare time to drive the project forward. We have so many members but they are all baseball-mad so they have been reluctant to give up their baseball time.
hertsbaseball.com: How do you plan to overcome this hurdle?
Aspi Dimitrov: We are hoping to organise several softball events this year and this may attract these key members who can provide the platform which we can build on. We already had one softball event on April 1 which was part of the 2012 NBL Opening Day celebrations at Grovehill Ballpark. It went very well. We managed to attract enough players for 4 softball teams. The majority were parents and family members of our youth team families and there were others who came to the ballpark for the first time to give softball a try.
hertsbaseball.com: What is the club hoping to achieve with the softball programme?
Aspi Dimitrov: Softball is very popular and in fact there are more softball teams than baseball teams in this country. The majority of softball teams and leagues are located in central London. There are no softball programmes in Hertfordshire at present. Hertfordshire County, North West London and the surrounding regions are a huge untapped market so there is potential for substantial growth. It is an exciting opportunity. If we find the right people to set up the administrative infrastructure we may be able to double the size of Herts Baseball Club in the next 4 or 5 years and create a large regional softball league here in Hertfordshire. Many softball leagues play their games on weekday evenings so if we can achieve this we can look forward to having baseball and softball league games being played at Grovehill Ballpark every day of the week.
hertsbaseball.com: So what is the next step in the project?
Aspi Dimitrov: We are very fortunate that this summer BSUK will be running softball taster sessions in St. Albans which is just a few minutes away from our ballpark. These will take place every Wednesday evening from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. These sessions will continue for a period of 8 weeks. The first session is on Wednesday, June 20. We have already started recruiting softball players, coaches, and facilitators and this BSUK project will hopefully attract enough new members to enable us to start the softball programme here at Herts. For more details about these softball taster session click here.