Seventeen baseball teams, comprising around 200 players and coaches, descended upon Grovehill ball park on Saturday for another fantastic day of baseball at the Herts Futures Tournament.
This is the biggest annual youth event in the sport in the UK, which has been staged every year since 2008. Competing teams came from as far afield as Leicester and Brighton this year — with a good helping of Herts in there, too.
There were wins shared around in the four age categories, with Herts, Brighton, London Sports and the London Mets all getting a share of the spoils. Full results can be found on the Herts Futures pages of our website.
The day began in a warm but cloudy fashion, with Herts Under-13 and Under-17 teams playing the first games at 9:30 in the morning.
The Opening Ceremony then saw all of the players and coaches lining up to be introduced. London Sports sent their Thunder and Lightning and Storm; the London Mets were there; the Forest Glade Redbacks; the Leicester Blue Sox; and a combined Under-8 force of the London Capitals and Mets with Brighton, and even a sprinkling of Northants Centurions!
A queue of baseball talent stretched along the first base line, and there were high fives and fist bumps for everyone — including our excellent umpires Darrin Muller, Blake Taylor, Mike Wakelam and Rich Brown.
The Herts Red Kites had the best of it in the Under-17 category, capping an excellent year for them under their coach Andrew Fulford. The Under-13 league was a tight contest with the Brighton Fireballs and London Mets coming out tied on top of the table — after tying their own game. Tie-breaking rules on runs conceded gave the title to the Mets, but both sides put on an excellent show.
In the younger age groups, London Sports showed their prowess, winning both pools of the Under-11 competition. The Thunder and Lightning then faced off in the final, won by the Thunder. This year’s Under-8 competition saw Herts and Leicester taking on a mix of the Mets, Capitals and Brighton. The teams — and the watching parents — had a great time and the three-way mash-up team won both their games to secure a win.
The sun shone by the afternoon, and Herts volunteers did great work serving cheesesteaks, chili-dogs and donuts to the hungry masses. Many people also took this last chance of the year to snap up baseball merchandise and equipment.
The Herts Futures Tournament has rounded off the 2017 British youth baseball season in style. Teams up and down the country will now have to somehow survive the winter months without baseball.
Thankfully Major League Baseball is about to enter its most exciting phase and we can follow the drama of the postseason on TV and online.
Players of all ages can contact Herts Baseball Club with a view to signing up for the 2018 season or giving baseball a try when the teams return to the ballpark in the new year.