Herts Baseball Club’s 26th Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday, 27 November, and it provided an analysis of the 2022 season, the club’s current position on and off the field and plans for 2023 and beyond.
It was confirmed that the club grew by 7% this year and currently has 214 adult and youth members. This is a new high in the club’s history which means the club has now recorded new highs in three of the last four years.
At the previous AGM, competitiveness on the field of play was identified as an area which the club needed to improve after its five adult league teams had a combined record of 31 wins and 105 losses (W-L% .228). There was a marked improvement this year with a combined regular season record of 56 wins and 72 losses (W-L% .438). The Hawks and the Londoners had a W-L% well above the .500 mark and both teams qualified for the postseason playoffs.
The AGM saw a lively discussion on the subject of how best to allocate Herts teams across the different league tiers of the BBF.
Off the field the club continues to be in a healthy financial position with a record level of net assets. It was noted that the club is preparing to operate in difficult economic conditions in 2023 as the Cost of Living Crisis will affect everyone and the challenge will be to keep baseball affordable while continuing the prudent management of the club’s finances.
Generous donations from club members and the wider community combined with grants from Sport England and Barnet Council enabled the club to implement most of the second phase of the Basing Hill Ballpark project comprising the installation of the backstop, infield cutout areas and pitcher’s mound. Although the crowdfunding campaign reached its target successfully, by the time that campaign was completed, the prices quoted by contractors for the installation of the backstop and infield perimeter fencing had gone up by around 30% as a result of the inflation affecting the entire world at the moment. The club went ahead with the installation of the backstop but the infield perimeter fence was put on hold while the club explores ways to fund the resulting shortfall of around £2,500.
Herts was also awarded £2,851 match-funding from the BSUK Facilities Fund to be invested in procedures to improve the Grovehill Ballpark playing surface. The first stage of the work has already been completed with the installation of mound clay blocks for both pitching mounds at Grovehill. The remaining funding raised for investment into Grovehill Ballpark and Basing Hill Ballpark will be put into action in 2023.
The three high-profile Herts events – the HSL, the HFT and the Hunlock Series – were back in full swing after being disrupted by Covid in the previous two years.
Club members were updated about news coming out of the BBF AGM which took place a week earlier. The outstanding achievements of the GB U12, U15, U18, Women’s and the Senior teams were highlighted and for the first time we will see GB in the World Baseball Classic. They have been drawn in a pool with the USA and Canada who will feature some of the biggest MLB stars. Games will be played at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Qualification means that GB has already earned a very large sum in prize money and that amount goes up the further they progress in the competition. A large portion of these funds are expected to be invested into British baseball.
The BBF also informed clubs of changes expected in 2023 such as the mandatory scoring of league games at all four league levels, stricter disciplinary procedures to tackle the abuse of umpires, adding the BBF Summer Cup to the calendar and exploring the option to move NBL and Triple-A games to Saturdays as there aren’t enough diamonds in the UK to fit all league games on Sundays.
A positive development has been the return of BSUK to the BBF AGM and the hope is that the BBF and BSUK will expand the level of collaboration which should give a boost to the growth of baseball in the UK.
For the first time ever, the BBF AGM was attended by representatives of MLB and they presented details of the work done so far and their future plans and strategy for the growth of the game in Europe and in the UK in particular as we prepare for the return of the MLB London Series in 2023. This time it will be the St Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
The AGM also considered a proposal for the club to run a pilot project to explore the viability of taking the club to the next level. Club members shared their views on the proposal and agreed to hand the decision to the executive board.
With the AGM being held on Zoom, members will receive an email with details how to cast their votes over the next two weeks by email as it is not possible for members to vote anonymously via Zoom. A number of Board positions are up for election either as part of the annual retirement of a third of the Board positions or because they are vacant.