Author: AspiDimitrov

Herts looking for competitive edge in 2012

Lee Manning will be leading the Herts Falcons in 2012

Herts Baseball Club announced the managerial appointments for its three adult league teams as they prepare for the 2012 British Baseball season. The appointments were confirmed at the club’s Annual General Meeting which was held today in Apsley, Hertfordshire.

Lee Manning will continue at the helm of the Herts Falcons with the team looking to climb up the standings in 2012 after finishing ninth in the National Baseball League (NBL) this year. Manning who lives just a fly ball away from Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead has been with the organisation from a very young age and he is looking forward to the challenge ahead for the Falcons. It was revealed that the team has added several new names to its roster, and it will be interesting to see how they will fit into the lineup. The attraction of joining the Falcons appears to come from the fact that Herts Baseball Club is one of the largest baseball organisations in the United Kingdom in terms of size, facilities, number of adult and youth teams, players and supporters, but it hasn’t managed to become a dominant force in the NBL yet. It is a “sleeping giant”, desperate for success much in the way that the Chicago Cubs have been suffering for so long and the Boston Red Sox did right up until they ended the curse of the Bambino in 2004. There is a real opportunity for players to come in and become Herts Baseball legends and this appears to be an appealing challenge. Despite the additions of these new players, there is work still to be done and the team still has slots on its roster which need to be filled to add strength in pitching, defence and offence.

Andy Cornish
Greg Bochan


There is also no change for the Herts Hawks. They will once again be led by joint-managers Andy Cornish and Greg Bochan. The partnership between the two has worked very well and this is an opportunity for them to build on the progress made over the last 12 months. Like the Falcons, the Hawks also ended 2011 with a below .500 win-loss record. If the Herts Falcons succeed in adding more players to its NBL roster, it would have a positive knock-on effect with experienced players trickling down to the club’s second and third teams. It is too early to predict which team roster players will be assigned to as these decisions will be made on the basis of performance in the critical Spring Training period, but the signals coming out of Herts’ Annual General Meeting is that all the Herts teams are determined to be involved in the playoff races of all league tiers.

Arnie Longboy

Berkhamsted resident, Arnie Longboy, has been confirmed as the Manager of the Herts Raptors. Longboy has been heavily involved both as a player and coach at the club over the last few years and he will be able to count on his son, Zack, not only as a member of the Raptors’ pitching rotation, but also as his assistant. The Raptors ended the 2011 season impressively winning three out of the last four league games. The really positive news is that he will be able to count on a large number of club members including Chris Deacon, Glen Downer and John Kjorstad who have made themselves available to support Longboy in coaching and other capacities. While the Herts teams hope to get a boost out of experienced players filtering down to the Double-AA and Single-A League teams, there will be an additional fillip coming from the club’s Under-17 team players who seem to be maturing fast. Jose Morillo, Liam Green and Zack Longboy already made their mark with the adult teams this year and other U17 players are knocking on the door to do the same next season.

If the club is successful in attracting more players over the next few months, this, combined with U-17 players staring to move into the adult teams, may prompt the club to enter a fourth team into the league

Other news coming out of the Herts Baseball AGM includes the club’s exciting plans for the next wave of investment into Grovehill Ballpark. The club is expected to issue more details on this over the next few weeks in anticipation of the final outcome of its BSUK/Sport England grant application.

Herts Baseball Club welcomes youth players from 6 to 16 and adult players from 14 to 50+ from complete beginners to experienced ballpalyers. New players can join at any time of the year. For more details click here for adults or here for youth players.

Kermode, Mayo and Herts on Moneyball

If you want to learn to hit from the best you would go and talk to people like Hank Aaron and Ted Williams.  For pitching you would turn to Nolan Ryan.

When it comes to movies, there is only one place to go to and that’s Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews on BBC Radio 5 Live.  When they talk movies, the other film critics scramble around to get pen and paper and take notes.

On the day of Moneyball’s release in the UK, Kermode and Mayo had their say, and Herts Baseball Club also decided to get involved in the discussion. 

Here is a little excerpt from their weekly show on Friday afternoon on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Herts Baseball Club announces AGM details

The Apsley Community Centre will be hosting this year's AGM

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that its 15th Annual General Meeting will take place on Sunday, 11 December 2011.  Apart from end of year financial and other reports from the club’s various departments, the meeting will also look forward to the 2012 season with an open forum for members to examine the most central topics for Herts Baseball ahead of the new baseball season. 

During the meeting club members will be asked to elect the members of the Board for the forthcoming year.  Nominations for Board members are currently invited and those who are interested to put their name forward can contact the club for more details. 

Although only 2011 paying members have the right to vote at this AGM, the meeting is very much open to former members and those who are considering joining, the club in 2012 as players, members of staff, volunteers etc.  This is a good opportunity for newcomers to learn more about the club and meet its members.  The meeting is also open to observers who are not members of the Club, but they would need to advise the club in advance as spaces are limited. If you are not a current member and wish to attend the AGM please contact the club. 

This year the AGM will be held at a new venue, just a few minutes away from Grovehill Ballpark.  The venue is the Apsley Commuity Centre.   

Time, Date, Venue Details, Map:

TIME:                    1pm (expected to end at around 4:30pm-5:00pm) 

DATE:                    Sunday, 11 December 2011

VENUE:                 Apsley Community Association, Apsley Community Centre, London Road, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP3 9SB (Map)

Moneyball has arrived

Moneyball was released in the US in September and has been a big box office hit.  The cast includes Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, among others, with screenplay by Aaron Sorkin who created The West Wing and The Social Network.  The movie is released in the United Kingdom today, 25 November.  

Members of Herts Baseball Club are already feeling the pain from lack of baseball during the winter period and there is no better remedy for this than going to see a baseball movie. In the opinion of most movie critics “If you like baseball or Sorkin or Brad Pitt films then you will enjoy Moneyball”.  

Herts Baseball Club has taken advantage of this fantastic opportunity by making plans for club members, family and friends to invade the local movie theatre.

As members and friends of Herts Baseball Club prepare for the UK premier of Moneyball, the British media has broadcasted various TV and radio programmes on Moneyball the movie, the book and the phenomenal effect which Billy Beane and his colleagues have had on sports. 

Here is a link to a special 90-minute BBC radio programme on the influence of Moneyball on baseball and other sports.  It features interviews with Billy Beane himself, Moneyball author, Michael Lewis, Oakland A’s first baseman, Scott Hatteberg, performance analysts from the best sports organisations in the world, as well as Brad Pitt who was the driving force behind the project to make the movie after reading the book. The programme is hosted by Colin Murray, a long-suffering Toronto Blue Jays fan. (Click here to go to BBC iPlayer). The programme is available only until 10:30pm on Thursday, 1 December 2011.

MLB Postseason gives Herts players and coaches the edge for 2012

The Herts youth and adult teams may have played their last games of the 2011 season but they are already looking for ways to gain a competitive edge in 2012 thanks to the analysis and tips form the biggest baseball experts in baseball. 

Here is the latest round of expert analysis from the 2011 MLB postseason.

Harold Reynolds, Mike Lowell and Orlando Hudson look at the swings of Miguel Cabrera and Michael Young


MLB Network’s Diamond Demo takes a look at some key stolen bases during the LCS

Harold Reynolds and Bill Ripken compare the throwing motions of the Rangers Nelson Cruz and the Giants Tim Lincecum

Bill Ripken and Mitch Williams talk about the different schools of thought on defensive positioning on the infield

Dan Plesac breaks down the adjustments Chris Carpenter has made in his delivery since making his Major League debut in 1997

Harold Reynolds and Joel Hanrahan talk about the best way to pitch to the Cardinals and Brewers best hitters

Mitch Williams and Larry Bowa demonstrate how pitchers keep runners from advancing on the basepaths

Bill Ripken breaks down the two-handed follow through in Major League Baseball

Albert Pujols’ heads-up defensive play against the Phillies in Game 4 of the NLDS

The finer points of running the bases and fielding position

Rangers’ successful pitchout in Game 3 of their ALDS vs. the Rays

Herts Blue Dogs’ comeback stuns Red Roosters

In the third and final week of the 2011 Hunlock Series, the Herts Blue Dogs faced an onslaught from the other three Hunlock Series teams. Each of them tried to knock the Dogs off the top of the standings, but they held on to win the Series.


Nick Russell started on the mound for the Blue Dogs in the decider against the Red Roosters

All four teams were still in the running at the start of the final day.  The Black Widows knew that they needed to win all three of their games.  Their first opponents were the Red Roosters who took what seemed to be an insurmountable 6-2 lead into the final inning.  The Black Widows’ bats suddenly came alive and they recovered to tie the game 6-6. Starting pitchers Justin Henderson and Greg Bochan were still going strong on the mound as the game became a pitchers’ duel going into extra innings.  Ultimately, the Reds scored a key run in the top of the fifth and held on to that 1-run lead.  This meant that the Black Widows were out of the running. 

The Red Roosters were gathering momentum and won their second game of the day in a closely fought battle with Herts White Lightning, which meant that they were also out of the reckoning.



This set up a colossal encounter between the Red Roosters and the Blue Dogs, the winner of which would become the 2011 Series Winner. Both teams had reserved their ace pitchers, Nick Russell (Blue Dogs) and Nic Goetz (Red Roosters), for this deciding game.  Everything seemed to be going smoothly for the Reds.  They built up a comfortable 5-2 lead going into the final inning and with Goetz on the mound it seemed like the Blue Dogs were going to fall at the final hurdle.  One or two big hits in this last inning were not going to be enough for the Dogs. They needed to put runners on base and then a batter who can step up and drive them in under the enormous pressure that was building up.  They successfully did the first part of their task scoring two runs to make it 5-4 and loaded the base for co-manager, Andrew Slater.  He stepped up and delivered the knockout blow with a walk-off 2-run double, giving the Blue Dogs a first-ever Hunlock Series Championship.

Final Standings and Scoreboard of the 2011 Hunlock Series


Geoff Hare - in 2004 went a full league season without striking out as the regular leadoff man in the Herts Falcons lineup

A special mention goes to Herts Baseball legend, Geoff Hare.  He wore the Falcons number 10 jersey for over a decade, and before that played with the Hemel Red Sox.  Everybody connected with Herts Baseball Club knows Geoff.  A magnificent short stop and a leadoff batter, a player who can hit for power and for average, Geoff has always been the first name in any Herts manager’s line-up.  Over the last few years Geoff’s magnificent contribution to the club has continued in a coaching capacity and he has now become one of the best and most respected umpires in Great Britain.  He was out of the country in the first two weeks of the Series, but wanted to make sure that he can support his club in this event and after returning from abroad immediately made himself available to umpire 4 of the games in the final weekend. 


Herts youngsters are starting to make impact in the adult leagues of Great Britain

The Hunlock Series has once again proved to be a fitting way to end the baseball season.  Over the three weeks of the competition current, former and potential new club members and their families have had the opportunity to play baseball and be together at the club’s home, Grovehill Ballpark, in the hottest October in history. The Series expanded from 3 to 4 teams this year and the addition of the Herts Under-17 All Star team players has given the adult team members an opportunity to see the results of the hard work by players and coaches in the Herts Little League.  Some of these youth team players are already representing Herts in the adult leagues and their number will be growing even faster in the coming years as the Herts’ youngsters mature into exceptional baseball players.

Going Down to the Wire in the October Heat


There is one week left of the Hunlock Series and the Herts Blue Dogs have a slender lead with the Red Roosters and White Lightning one game back on them.  Black Widows are two games back from the leaders but are still in the running thanks to a surprise win late this evening against the leaders.

White Lightning burst back into the championship-race after solid defensive performance. Against the Red Roosters starting pitcher Zack Longboy started the day for them with a shutout win against the Red Roosters. They suffered a hiccup against the Blue Dogs in the second game of the day losing 9-4, but quickly bounced back to beat the Back Widows 5-1 who struggled with the bats against Phil Clark on the mound for the Lightning.

Red Roosters’ early setback against White Lightning was quickly forgotten as they got back in the race with a win against the Widows.  Jon Lewys launched a decisive shot to right-centerfield off Black Widows’ pitcher, Liam Green.  The ball clipped the top of the outfield wall and went over for a two-run home run. 

That set up a titanic Red versus Blue clash played in temperatures of 29oC forcing both teams to snuggle up together on the third-base side to cool down in the shade.  The game ended with a walk-off 9-8 win for the Herts Blue Dogs.

The Blue Dogs had one more game to play with an opportunity to open up a two-game gap between them and the rest and virtually clinch the 2011 Hunlock Series.  They were shocked by a stubborn Black Widows team consisting of members of the Herts Under-17 and Under-14 All Star teams.  Justin Henderson pitched a gem and had the offensive support from the batting lineup, but arguably the most critical moment of the game came when, with two outs and runners on second and third, Tetsuro Shinkawa, came up to bat.  With the count 2-0 the Black Widows were about to call time for a mound visit as they were considering whether to walk him intentionally or to pitch around him carefully. On the next pitch Shinkawa drove the ball deep down the right-field foul line.  It looked like it would be a certain 2-RBI triple but out of nowhere, 14-year-old right-fielder Thom Adams somehow managed to make up a lot of ground and caught the ball in a spectacular play on the run to end the inning and any hopes of a Blue Dogs comeback.  Justin Henderson held his nerve in the final inning to secure the win which keeps the Black Widows in the running and sets up an exciting final round of games on Sunday, 9 October, at Grovehill Ballpark.  The First game commences at 11:30am with subsequent games starting on the two diamonds every hour.


Series Schedule and current Standings

 Blue Dogs – cannot afford to lose to Red Roosters.  A loss against White Lighting not as critical due to tie-break rules

Red Roosters – must win against Blue Dogs.  If they lose that game they are out of the race

White Lightning – cannot afford to lose to Red Roosters or Blue Dogs.

Black Widows – Still in the running but need a miracle. Must win all three remaining games and hope that other results go their way.


  • Red Roosters – added Simon (Free Agent )
  • Red Roosters – added Phil (Free Agent)
  • Black Widows – added Harry Purvis (Free Agent)
  • Blue Dogs – added Tetsuro Shinkawa (Free Agent)

Note: Herts White Lightning has the next two picks.

Herts Falcons and Herts Hawks Players Promote Baseball in Berkhamsted

Herts Baseball Club took part in Berkhamsted’s Big Adventure event on Saturday, 24 September.  Hundreds of children were able to enjoy a day of sports activities from kendo and wall-climbing to baseball.

This event clashed with the record-breaking Herts Futures Tournament which was being played at Grovehill Ballpark at the same time, but this didn’t stop Paul Curtis and Troy Linton to represent Herts Baseball Club and introduce baseball to hundreds of youngsters who came out to play on a sunny September day.

Herts Falcons’ Short Stop, Troy Linton, whose wife, Anna, is closely involved with this project, enjoyed the experience: “It was a fun day and the kids really enjoyed the opportunity of trying out baseball. Everyone did very well and there were so many players who impressed with their abilities”.  Linton added: “We hope that as many of these children as possible will come down to Grovehill Ballpark and join the Herts Baseball Family”.



All to Play For. Hunlock Series Teams Closely Matched

White Lightning Co-Managers pondering over their options after heartbreaking loss versus the Blue Dogs

The Red Roosters and the Blue Dogs have a slender lead in the 2011 Hunlock Series after the first round of games. The Blue Dogs opened the series with a 3-2 win against the Herts White Lightning, who announced a last-minute signing of free agent, Troy Linton, who is the starting short-stop for the Herts Falcons in the NBL.  In their second game the Blue Dogs survived a last inning rally by the Black Widows to win 5-4 and maintain their unbeaten record.

The Herts Red Roosters are the defending Hunlock Series champions and they got off to a great start with a 11-2 defeat of White Lightning. Nic Goetz picked up the win for the Roosters in that game.

This set up a clash between the Blue Dogs and the Red Roosters with both teams going into the game unbeaten.  It turned out to be a classic match-up.  Nick Russell on the mound for the Blue Dogs took a 2-0 lead into the final inning but the Roosters staged a spirited comeback late in the game to win it 3-2.

White Lightning ended their day on a positive note with a 6-4 win over the Black Widows.

Ilya Dimitrov - First baseman, base-stealer, artist

In the final game of the day the Roosters were looking to stay in first place in the standings by completing a 3-game sweep.  They had a 4-1 lead against the Black Widows who had battled hard in their first two games but had nothing to show for their effort.  The Black Widows are made up of members of the Herts Under-17 and Under-14 teams and most of their pitching staff was on a rest day after playing in the Herts Futures Tournament 24 hours earlier.  Thankfully the team had drafted Alex Ganster and PJ Henderson who provided much needed pitching depth to keep them in the game and produce an impressive rally in the bottom of the final inning to win 5-4 against the unbeaten Red Roosters.

This leaves all four teams tightly packed in the standings after the first weekend of the Series.  Next games are scheduled for Sunday, 2 October 2011, and with a heat wave about to come to the British Isles it is set to be another glorious weekend of baseball at Grovehill Ballpark.


White Lightning

  • Added Troy Linton (Free Agent)

Blue Dogs

  • Added Oz Jr. (Free Agent)

Black Widows

  • Added PJ Henderson (Free Agent)

Red Roosters have the next pick.

What it’s all about – read Rob Jones report from the first day of the Hunlock Series.

2011 Hunlock Series – Scoreboard, Standings and more

London, Herts and Horsham win Herts Futures Tournament

The 2011 youth baseball season ended in style with the Herts Futures Tournament.  A record 15 youth teams from across Southern England descended on Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead for a day packed with baseball action. 

The event opened with around 200 young baseball players lining up on the first base foul line for the national anthem and then it was time to play with a total of 24 games scheduled over the course of the day.

In the Under-17 competition, 2011 National Champions, London Mets took the title with a 100% record of 3-0, but it took a nail-biting come-from-behind 6-3 win against the Horsham Hornets to do it. Horsham deservedly took second place with Herts overcoming the Essex RedBacks in extra innings to clinch third place. Herts and the RedBacks have had close games all season but the RedBacks kept coming out on top winning all five of their encounters prior to Saturday, so a promising way for the Herts All Stars to end the season and start to build towards 2012.

National Runners-up Herts were the winners in the Under-14 competition.  They finished above London and Bracknell in their pool which took them to the final where they met Horsham and won convincingly. Zack Longboy pitched for the win, while Callum Vangundy stood out with two home runs for Herts.

In the Under-11 race defending champions, the Horsham A’s, once again proved to be the dominant force in this age group finishing the day with a 100% record beating all four of their opponents.


The event also included a Home Run Derby for the U17 teams. London Mets player, Zach Stroman, reached the final round with an impressive score of 6 home runs in the opening round.  Joining him in the final were team mates, Jamie Dix and Jack Peters as well as Sam Boylett (Horsham) and Kyle Lloyd-Jones (Herts) who were all tied in second place on 3 home runs.  In the final round Stroman added one more home run for a total of 7 home runs over the two rounds.  Lloyd-Jones and Jamie Dix added a home run each to their overall tally. Jack Peters came very close to overtaking home run leader, Stroman, with a total of 6 home runs.  Then up stepped Sam Boylett and showed impressive power under pressure.  He launched 5 towering blasts to win the Home Run Derby with 8 home runs overall.

A wonderful day of baseball for the whole family which will certainly leave everyone with warm memories as British Baseball enters the winter break period and starts to prepare for the 2012 season.

Herts Futures Tournament Scoreboard and Final Standings