Herts Baseball Club has announced that for the first time in its history it has entered a fifth team in the British senior baseball leagues. As recently as 2004 the club consisted of a single senior league team, the Herts Falcons. Eight years later the organisation has grown into one of the biggest clubs in the UK with four youth teams and now five adult teams.
With ten minutes before the deadline for teams to enter the British Leagues for the 2013 season, Herts submitted the entry of its fifth team. The team will play in the AAA league, which is the second tier of the British Baseball League system.
The other four Herts teams will play in the same leagues as they did in 2012 – Herts Falcons (NBL), Herts Hawks (AA), Herts Eagles (A) and Herts Raptors (A).
AAA was the only league tier which Herts was not represented in last season and Herts Falcons Manager, Lee Manning feels that this is a very significant step forward. “We have had a gap at AAA level over the last 2 seasons, which has made it more difficult for us to progress players through the leagues. For players who are on the fringe of the NBL roster it is difficult to get them NBL-ready by dropping them down two levels to the AA League. Now that the gap at AAA is filled we are in a much better position to retain these players and develop them” said Manning.
Herts Under-17 team manager, Cris Hiche, also feels that this will have a positive effect throughout the organisation and in particular the youth programme. “We are fortunate to have very good players coming through the Herts youth teams. Many of them are challenging for a place in the Great Britain National Teams and we know that the GB coaching staff puts great emphasis to involve these young players at the highest possible level. The AAA team gives our young players the stepping stone on their way to the NBL” said Hiche. He added that “the youth programme is the future for Herts and we need to put the right structure in place for our players to fulfil their potential and the addition of a AAA team is a necessary component of that structure”.
PROUD AAA TRADITION
This announcement however is not just about filling a gap purely for development purposes. Herts has had a very proud tradition at AAA League level over the years and everyone connected with the club will want to make sure that this continues with a winning season for the team.
The first appearance of a Herts team at AAA level was in 2005 when the Falcons were promoted to the second league tier which was known as the Premier League at the time. The Falcons didn’t reach the playoffs in that year but certainly proved to be one of the most difficult teams to beat. Even the formidable Cambridge Monarchs featuring players like Glen Goodrich and former St Louis Cardinals pitcher, Bob Runyon, found it difficult against the Falcons with the famous back-to-back-to-back home runs by Falcons legend, Jim Denison, at RAF Feltwell. A year later the Falcons were relegated back down to the AA league after losing in extra innings to the Burgess Hill Red Hats in a one-game relegation-promotion decider.
After the disappointment of relegation, the Falcons regrouped under the management of Bruce Dullea and won promotion straight back to the AAA. In 2008 they were the dominant force in AAA and Manager Jason Greenberg led the team to the AAA national championship title, which prompted the invitation for the Herts Falcons to join the National Baseball League.
2009 saw the birth of the Herts Eagles who entered the AAA league. A year later they made it to the AAA postseason playoffs and under the management of Lee Manning finished third behind second-placed, Oxford Kings and the champions, Liverpool Trojans.
Will the new Herts team manage to keep the club’s proud tradition at AAA League level?
Today’s announcement means that the club will now begin the search for a manager of the new Herts AAA team. Will the club look to add a new name to the managerial team, or will it promote one of the managers of the other Herts teams? It is a decision which will require careful consideration and we understand that the club’s executive board has been assessing the situation in great detail.
The club has decided that the members and fans of Herts Baseball should be involved in the process of naming the new team. It will be done in three stages. The first stage commences today and it involves fans and members submitting names which will be voted on in stage two. You can submit a team name by posting on the Herts facebook page, the club’s forum, by email or via twitter by including the proposed team name along with @hertsbaseball in your tweet.
This first stage will end at midnight on February 3 and at that point the preliminary round of voting will begin. On February 10 the three most popular names will go through to the final and deciding voting round. The finalist which receives the highest number of votes will be confirmed as the name of the new Herts AAA team. So far the names of the Herts teams have stayed with the bird theme consistently. Will the fans choose an avian name again or will they go for something different?
As announced on Monday, Herts Baseball Club will be hosting tryouts on March 10 at Grovehill Ballpark. These are not just for players interested to play for the new Herts AAA team. The tryouts are open to players of any standard from those who have never thrown a baseball in their life, to experienced players looking to win a place with the Herts Falcons in the National Baseball League. Players must be 14 years of age or above on 31 December 2013. Tialists will undergo a series of tests and drills which will enable the coaching staff to assess the players before they make their roster picks later in that month ahead of Opening Day. Players interested to try out can actually get a head-start by joining the Herts teams in their Spring Training sessions which start this Sunday, 27 January. For more details contact us.
Players aged between 6 and 16 can look forward to joining up with the club’s youth league teams. The Spring Training dates for the youth teams are expected to be announced shortly. For more details of how to get involved with either the adult or the youth teams, please contact us.