With just a few hours remaining until the deadline for British baseball clubs to submit their league entries for the 2022 baseball season, Herts Baseball Club confirmed that they will once again be entering five teams.
However, the Herts Falcons are not among them. The team had a difficult season last year finishing in last place with a record of 1 win and 24 losses. They went into it with a depleted roster of 15 players and suffered further setback when player-manager, Cris Hiche, had to go back to his home country due to a family bereavement. Another three players and the interim manager left partway through the season.
In November, the club started the process of rebuilding the roster. Despite a large number of players signing up to try out with the team, the club struggled with the appointment of a new manager. They came close to securing a highly rated candidate last month but he received a contract offer from an MLB club. The identity of that coach has not been made public yet to enable him to decide when to do so in what is a very positive news story for British baseball.
This morning club president, Aspi Dimitrov, said: “we ran out of time and we have to bear the pain of withdrawing our flagship team from the National Baseball League”.
We understand the club considered assigning the Falcons team name to one of its other teams in the lower leagues in order to continue the team’s record of 26 uninterrupted seasons playing in the BBF leagues, but decided against it. “Our work to rebuild the Falcons continues and our target now is the 2023 season” said Dimitrov.
The club’s other five teams will now have to carry the Herts flag in the playoff races this year.
Herts Cardinals (Triple-A)
The Cardinals are the newest Herts team, unveiled just a week ago. They go into the Triple-A league – the second tier in the British baseball league system. When taking on the role, team manager Brian Dearing did not expect that his team would have the extra pressure of being the club’s highest ranked team but Herts fans hope that the team will thrive on this.
The Cardinals will play their home games at the club’s Basing Hill Ballpark in North West London which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in late April or early May.
Herts Hawks (Single-A)
The Hawks are one of four Herts teams which will play in the BBF Single-A league. They will be managed by Ken Pike, who was in charge of the Herts Raptors last year. His team is expected to feature many of his 2021 Raptors players but the squad may also feature new faces as the competition for places intensifies. The Hawks will play their home games at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.
Herts Raptors (Single-A)
As confirmed at the end of January, Mantas Poderys, is back at the helm. He managed the Raptors in 2020 bringing his trademark enthusiasm but the season was wiped out by Covid so this will be his managerial debut in the BBF leagues. The Raptors will play their home games at Grovehill.
Herts Londoners (Single-A)
Last year Herts Londoners improved on their win-loss record of the previous season but the team still finished far from the playoff places. They hope to climb up the standings further this year. Co-manager Arnie Longboy has taken up the front office role of co-General Manager and Matt Bell takes his place as co-manager. The Londoners will play their home games at Basing Hill.
Herts Eagles (Single-A)
The Eagles finished the season with the best record out of the three Herts teams in the Single-A league last season with some exceptional numbers put up by MVP, Mike Wakelam, including 9 home runs. Will he be back with the Eagles or will he be called up by the Cardinals to the Triple-A team. The Eagles hope to announce their new manager soon.
It remains to be seen if all four Herts Single-A teams will be placed in the same pool which would mean that there would be a plethora of Herts derby games this season. Would this increase the chances of seeing a Herts team reach the playoffs or will the four Herts teams end up knocking each other out? In the next few weeks the BBF will also reveal who they will face. Will it be their old rivals the Redbacks the Minotaurs and the Mustangs who are the reigning Single-A national champions or will the BBF reshuffle the composition of the pools perhaps bringing in teams like the Richmond Dukes and the Bracknell Inferno?
The managers have left some room in the rosters so new players can still join the Herts teams. However, the club reported that the number of players registering to play is higher than on deadline day last season so those available places are likely to be filled quickly.