The official National Baseball League Opening Day at Grovehill Ballpark on Saturday marked not only a big step for Herts Baseball Club’s NBL Pilot Project. It also marked the arrival of Gabriel Fidler as the club’s first ever official announcer. Best known as Chair of the British Baseball Hall of Fame and founder of Extra Innings UK, Fidler began his career as colour commentator for perennial NAIA World Series contender Lee University in the U.S.
At Lee, Fidler completed a joint B.A. in broadcasting and history, working for the university’s Sports Information Department under local legend and inductee to multiple Halls of Fame, George Starr. Among his many duties over six years with Flames Athletics, Fidler travelled around the U.S. with Lee’s baseball and basketball teams as its full-time radio broadcaster alongside Starr. He also served as the regular P.A. for the four-time national champion women’s football side, and the men’s football team, which produced two MLS draftees.
Since then, Fidler – who was raised in Suffolk before moving to the U.S. – has held roles as public address announcer for the 2018 NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional, hosted at the Cape Cod League’s Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass., and for four sports at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, including the Grand Re-Opening of its Hendy Baseball Field. He also served as a guest on numerous radio programmes and baseball podcasts in the U.K. and U.S.
At the 2019 London Series, Fidler returned to the mic alongside Chris Knoblock as the duo broadcast the London Cup, which featured multiple British Little League squads playing in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Stadium. As part of his role with BaseballSoftballUK, he also coordinated London Series’ legacy events, including media coordination for the Elite Tournament at Farnham Park, a press conference with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and USA Baseball’s Rick Riccobono to announce the launch of Fun At Bat in East London schools, and various other activities.
‘We want to make NBL game days an amazing experience for fans, and this is a brilliant new addition for the club,’ noted Herts President Aspi Dimitrov. ‘Gabriel has long had contacts with Herts, and we are excited that he is taking on this role.’
Fidler has a connection to Herts Baseball, as he co-founded Durham University’s baseball team in 2016 with Will Zucker, then a rising prospect for Herts and Under-15 selection for Great Britain. Zucker, of course, is now Herts’ Co-Director of Youth Baseball and has since suited up for the GB U23 squad. Under their leadership, Durham played in three countries in its first season, sent two squads to the 2016 Spring National University Baseball Championship (NUBC), and claimed the 2016 Autumn and 2018 Spring NUBC titles with its first team.
‘I am thrilled to join Herts as public address announcer in time for Opening Day and the launch of its ambitious NBL Pilot Project,’ remarked Fidler. ‘I first became aware of Herts through Will and am fortunate to count Aspi as a friend now as well. With the return of MLB clubs to Britain for this year’s London Series and the success of Great Britain Baseball at the WBC, enthusiasm for baseball in the U.K. is at an all-time high. As the sport develops further in Britain, Herts is positioned to take a leading role and I look forward to playing a small part in its endeavours.’
As a credentialled journalist, Fidler has also reported live from numerous top baseball events, including the 2016 MLB Battlegrounds in Hyde Park, the 2017 World Baseball Classic and its Brooklyn Qualifier [pictured above with Great Britain Coach Trevor Hoffman, a U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame member], the 2018 Under-23 World Cup, and the 2020 Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifiers for both baseball and softball. In fact, he has not long returned from on-the-ground coverage of the 2023 WBC, where he witnessed the game-by-game build-up to the electrifying final showdown between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.
The official Opening Day of the 2023 National Baseball League season for the Herts Falcons saw the club host the London Mets, six-time consecutive national champions. The doubleheader was the first event of the club’s new Pilot Project and featured some of the fun and festivities of Opening Day to which baseball fans everywhere look forward. Fans can purchase tickets for all home games on hertsbaseball.com.