Author: Herts Baseball News Editor

Coach Monte Brooks is coming back to the UK to work with Herts players

Coach Monte Brooks is coming back to the UK to work with Herts players

In June 2019 the head coach of The Master’s University baseball team, Monte Brooks, was a special guest of Herts Baseball Club and Herts players had the unique opportunity of being coached by him.

He will be coming back to the UK and he will once again be working with the Herts adult and youth teams at the club’s two branches in Hemel Hempstead and in London. The two events which he will be taking part in are:

  • 6pm, Wednesday, 1 June, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 6pm, Thursday, 2 June, Basing Hill Ballpark, London

Brooks has just completed his 26th season as head coach of The Master’s University baseball team in the USA. He is the program’s all-time leader in wins with a record of 790-535. He has led the Mustangs to four NAIA World Series appearances (2000, 2013, 2016, 2017) and three regular-season GSAC titles.

As a player, Brooks was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1987 with whom he spent four seasons in the minor leagues and later coached in the Padres organisation before his appointment with Master’s University.

Players who have developed through The Master’s University have gone on to be drafted by MLB clubs. One of them is Conner Menez (pictured above) who was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Shortly after Coach Brooks’ visit to London in 2019, Menez made his MLB debut for the Giants where he played until last year. This season he was signed by the Chicago Cubs and with rumours going around that the 2023 MLB London Series will feature the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals, Herts fans may have the opportunity to see Menez in action at the London Stadium.

Coach Brooks’ area of expertise is working with hitters and infielders so his visit to the club is a fantastic opportunity for players from the various Herts teams.

The sessions are open to all current Herts members as well as new players who are considering joining the club. If you are not a current club member and wish to take part in one of these sessions, please contact us.

Herts Baseball Club looking for volunteers and paid coaches to host the pilot MLB First Pitch school baseball event in Hemel Hempstead

Herts Baseball Club looking for volunteers and paid coaches to host the pilot MLB First Pitch school baseball event in Hemel Hempstead

As part of Major League Baseball’s investment in the UK and the London Series, a pilot programme in association with the Youth Sport Trust was introduced where a hub of around 15 schools is created in a number of regions to run the MLB First Pitch programme. One of these hubs is in Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding area. 

The programme culminates with an end-of-school-year baseball event bringing all the schools from the hub together.  Herts Baseball Club was approached to host the end of year baseball festival scheduled for the summer of 2021, however that event could not take place due to Covid restrictions in schools.

Grovehill Ballpark has previously hosted baseball and softball events as part of the Herts School Games

Steps are being taken now to stage this event this summer on Tuesday, July 12, at Grovehill Ballpark, the home of Herts Baseball Club in Hemel Hempstead. The event is likely to feature a skills session from 9:30 to 12:00 and games from 12:30 to 14:45. It is expected to cover students aged 9 to 11 – school years 5 and 6.

The club is inviting Herts club members or players and coaches from other clubs who would be interested and available to act as event staff volunteers and as paid coaches on that day. The fee for the coaches will range between £12.50 and £23.75, depending on the role and the level of the coach.  For more details and to express interest contact us.

Saira Smith is the new Eagles manager

Saira Smith is the new Eagles manager

Saira Smith has been appointed as the new Herts Eagles manager and has also been co-opted to the club’s executive board.

She joined the Eagles as a player at the start of the 2021 season and quickly established herself as a key member of the team.  Smith is originally from Australia where she has played baseball extensively. She will be able to count on assistant coaches Jamie Lang-Richards, Mike Wakelam and Tom Hill who will be part of the team’s coaching staff.

The team had a win-loss percentage of .370 last season and it will be interesting to see if they can improve on that this season. The team caused an upset when they picked up two wins away at the reigning Single-A national champions, the London Mustangs, on Opening Day. That was followed by two losses against a strong Bracknell Inferno team.

Next up for them this Sunday is a trip to the Herts Hawks who are one of the early pace-setters in the Single-A league after winning their last three games.

MLB and London announce long term strategic partnership aimed at growing the game in the UK

MLB and London announce long term strategic partnership aimed at growing the game in the UK

This evening Major League Baseball and the Mayor of London issued the following press release which Herts baseball fans have been hoping for.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr. today announced a long-term strategic partnership that includes Major League Baseball’s commitment to hold major events in London over the next five years including regular season games in 2023, 2024 and 2026. Also announced was the formation of the MLB London Legacy Group which will include members from the Greater London Authority, Baseball Softball UK and other key stakeholders in the UK. The Group will be focused on delivering a wide-reaching and long-term legacy program that maximizes the impact of hosting MLB regular season games in London.

The Mayor of London is in New York City as part of a four-day trip to America to support London’s economic recovery from the pandemic and promote the capital to international visitors and business. Mayor Khan said: “Today is an historic day for London and baseball. I want to continue attracting world-class sport to our city as part of my mission to make London the sporting capital of the world. This long-term partnership with Major League Baseball is ambitious and includes regular season games as well as a legacy program designed to grow the number of Londoners watching and playing baseball at a grassroots level in
London. These games will be a fantastic opportunity to once again showcase the London Stadium as a multi-use venue and a fantastic asset for the capital.”

“All aspects of the inaugural MLB games in London were an overwhelming success,” said Commissioner Manfred. “It was clear that sports fans in London had a great appetite for baseball and that passion was shared by Mayor Khan as well as the business and media community. We are confident in making a long-term commitment to London and are looking forward to returning to the city with more MLB games, special fan events, and other opportunities to play and watch the game.”London hosted Major League Baseball games for the first time in June of 2019 when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox met in the inaugural MLB London Series. The two-games at London Stadium were the first-ever regular season games played in Europe.

To complement these events, MLB Europe will continue to conduct new London-based fan engagement events, expanded UK-focused content, baseball participation programs, and other city specific media arrangements to help continue the growth of baseball’s popularity across London.

A prime example of this is Home Run Derby X, an electrifying new baseball format which will take place in London’s Crystal Palace Park on July 9, 2022. Home Run Derby X has been designed to frame baseball in a fun and unique way to a new audience, with MLB Legends competing alongside characters new fans trust and care about and integrated into digital platforms and live event experiences that appeal to them.

Fans can register their details at [link] to keep up to date with the latest information from MLB Europe.

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding target reached

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding target reached

Earlier today, Herts Baseball Club issued the following message to supporters who contributed to the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding campaign.

With the fantastic support and generosity of club members, Sport England and the wider community, today we reached the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) Crowdfunding target of £20,068.

This now makes it possible for the club to install the backstop, infield perimeter fence and the infield cutout clay areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound. We hope that we can replicate at Basing Hill Ballpark the growth and the wonderful programmes which we built at our Grovehill Ballpark branch in Hemel Hempstead over the years.

There were several critical moments over the four weeks of this campaign when there was very little light at the end of the tunnel and the project seemed impossible, but club members and supporters mobilized friends, family, neighbours and colleagues and generated vital momentum for the campaign in those critical moments.

Over the next few days, we will start the process of distributing the rewards which supporters picked up as part of their donations.

The next step is to go through the formalities with Barnet Council and book the contractors to implement the installations. We hope that we will be able to complete it by the end of May. We are relying on contractors and the Council and hopefully we can deliver the project without any major delays.

We will keep everyone updated. 

The crowdfunding campaign is still live in case any other supporters would like to make a donation.  A number of rewards are still available to pick up. Any extra funds that we raise above the original target can be used to add items such as team benches, field equipment and other upgrades around the park.

Thank you for the amazing support.

Herts Baseball Club

Herts Cardinals to make BBF league debut this Sunday. Interview with Manager Brian Dearing.

Herts Cardinals to make BBF league debut this Sunday. Interview with Manager Brian Dearing.

The wait is over for the newest team in the Herts Baseball family, the Herts Cardinals. They will play their first ever BBF league game this Sunday, May 1st. Their Triple-A league campaign starts on the road at the Bournemouth Bears (4-2).

Bournemouth Bears vs Herts Cardinals

Ferndowne Leisure Centre

As we build-up to the team’s season opener, we had a chance to chat with Cardinals player-manager, Brian Dearing.

Q: Welcome to Herts Baseball Club.  After a number of years playing elsewhere in British baseball, how are you feeling about the new start?

A: I feel very good about move to Herts, the club has been incredibly welcoming and supportive. I’ve heard it over and over from members of the team, they feel at home already and we can’t thank Herts enough for everything they have done to make our transition a success.

Q: As several players from last year’s London Mammoths roster have joined, the Herts Cardinals roster already seems to have strong foundations.  What are your expectations for this year? Do you think the team can hit the ground running and be involved in the Triple-A playoff race in their first season?

A: First, I would say my main goal this year is to make sure our club transition is a complete success for the players, I believe our team is possibly the strongest it has ever been. Our entire roster moved to Herts, and we have had some tremendous ball players participate in our try-outs. We have already hit the ground running, and feel confident that we will be a competitive and fun team to play in 2022.

Q: Herts fans are excited about the Basing Hill Ballpark project and the club is currently raising funds for the second phase. Whether in MLB, NFL or the Premier League, clubs get enormous injection of energy when they move into their new home.  Basing Hill cannot compare to those enormous sports venues but do you think that there could be a similar effect for Herts players?

A: I can only speak to the Cardinals, but we are both moving venues and clubs. I think that we’ve got a huge injection of energy. The team is very motivated right now to train, improve, be competitive, and win a championship (or make a playoff run). 2022 is going to be a lot of fun.

Q: If everything goes to plan, the ballpark is scheduled to open in May and as a result the Herts Cardinals have to play their first few league games away from home.  Would this have an effect on the team’s plans?

A: We are really excited to play on the newly renovated Basing Hill field, and the BBF has very helpfully organized around the construction timeline so there is no effect on the team.

Q: When you moved from America you spent some time playing for the Edinburgh Cannons. Our players and fans might not be very familiar with the Scottish League and would be curious to learn how baseball in Scotland compares to the British baseball leagues.

A: Scottish Baseball is a blast, and is run by some great characters. There is only one “level”, so there is huge diversity on each team in terms of baseball ability and knowledge, which is fun and challenging! Overall, they’ve got a lot of dedicated players, and good access to equipment. I never expected that when I moved to the UK from the USA!

Q: You experienced baseball both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Are there elements that are very effective in growing the game in the US which British clubs should put greater emphasis on?

A: I think an emphasis on high quality fields, and access to practice facilities, would bring a greater level of seriousness to the game. I think also that there are so many baseball-player transplants in London that just don’t know they could play baseball in London or the UK, so ways to market our club and federation would be a great start.

Q: Finally, do you have a message for Herts baseball fans ahead of the 2022 season?

A: We look forward to meeting you and enjoying the new Basing Hill facility together!

Herts youth baseball teams to work with GB National Team coaches and players

Herts youth baseball teams to work with GB National Team coaches and players

Herts Baseball Club will be hosting the Great Britain National Teams as they prepare for international competition later this year.

As part of this, Herts youth players will have the unique opportunity to work with the GB U18 players and coaches over the next few weeks.

There will be three sessions as follows:

  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 23 April 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 7 May 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 21 May 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead

Note: Dates and times may be subject to change due to weather or other factors. For the May 21st event, if the construction of Basing Hill Ballpark is not completed by this date, the event will be moved to Grovehill Ballpark.

The last time Great Britain National Team coaches and players worked with Herts youth players was in 2008 (pictured above).

This is a good opportunity for any new players – boys and girls aged 6 to 14 – to come to one of these sessions and try baseball to help them decide if they would like to join the Herts youth baseball teams for the upcoming league season. Each session is expected to be around 2 hours and 30 minutes long.

New players who are not current members of the Herts youth teams can book their place for one of these sessions by completing this form.

Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding campaign needs 100 supporters to secure £6,000 pledge from Sport England

Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding campaign needs 100 supporters to secure £6,000 pledge from Sport England

Herts Baseball Club has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Phase Two of the Basing Hill Ballpark project in north west London. If 100 supporters back the project, Sport England will pledge £6,000.

Six months ago, the club raised £21,413 through crowdfunding for the first phase of the project which aimed to re-grade, level and resurface the baseball playing field with new grass. That stage of the project was completed successfully. The new grass is progressing well and is expected to be ready for games in May.

The club is now looking to raise £20,068 to install the baseball elements including the baseball backstop, infield perimeter fence and the infield cut-out clay areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.

Herts received confirmation from Sport England that they will pledge £6,000 to the project if it reaches 25% of the target (£5,017) and receives donations from 100 supporters. 

Club president, Aspi Dimitrov, said that “the timing of this campaign is not ideal for families given the difficult economic conditions in the UK, war in Ukraine, the world recovering from Covid pandemic, fuel and energy prices going up etc”. But he added that the club feels strongly that “baseball plays an important part in our lives and, if we deliver this project successfully, it will give a boost to everyone connected with Herts Baseball Club and the wider community in NW London and other clubs around British Baseball who will be playing at that venue”.

Most club members and fans already made significant donations last year during the crowdfunding of Phase 1. The club is mindful of the fact that most supporters cannot donate large amounts at every stage of the project, but, even if they can only donate a few pounds, that will play an important role in reaching 100 supporters needed to secure the £6,000 pledge from Sport England.

Note: When making a pledge to the project, at the checkout you will see a suggestion from the Crowdfunder platform to give them a percentage of the donation as a tip.  That tip does not support the Basing Hill Ballpark project.  You are not required to give a tip to them if you don’t want to so you would need to remove that tip at the checkout.

This type of project is not new to Herts Baseball Club. In 2009 they delivered a very similar project when they constructed a second baseball diamond at their branch in Hemel Hempstead to meet the increasing demand for baseball.

Individuals, businesses and other organisations can now make a pledge on the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding page. The campaign must reach the £20,068 target by midnight on 28 April 2022.  The money raised will be received by the club only if the project hits the target.  If it doesn’t, all pledges will be cancelled and payments refunded.

If the target is reached, work on the project is expected to commence in early May and the new ballpark is expected to be unveiled by the end of May.

For more information and to make a pledge, go to the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding page.

Unlike last year’s crowdfunding campaign, this time around individuals and businesses have teamed up with the campaign to generate revenue and reach new customers. They will be able to promote and sell their products, services and experiences, reaching a new audience through the crowdfunding campaign by offering “rewards”. Go to the crowdfunding page to see examples of businesses and individuals who have already done so.  Contact the club for more details or to add a reward.

Opening Day rosters published

Opening Day rosters published

After two months of Spring Training and three weeks of Herts Spring League games, the managers of the five Herts adult league teams have confirmed their Opening Day rosters. Just like Major League Baseball, there may be movement of players up and down the leagues in accordance with BBF regulations.

Herts Cardinals (Triple-A League)

1jpnHiroki FujimotoP, 2B, SSR/R--
2usaJames Hicks1B, P---
3usaSean BennettP, 2B, SS---
4gbrAndy Cornish2B, 3B---
5cubOsvaldo Badia Rivero1B, 3B---
6usaTyler CoteC, OF, P---
7gbrWill DavisIF, OF---
8usaJoshua Pines1B---
9usaBrian DearingP, SS---
10gbrJames CavanaghC, OF---
11usaArik RavivP---
12hkg“Stephen” Chun Hung WongC, IF, OF---
13canRobert LaflammeOF---
14domGiorgio FerroniC, OF---
15cubJavier Cardenas TomasOF---
16ltuVytas Macenas2B, 3B---
17gerYves SchwarzbartIF, OF---
18gbrMichael Cresswell1B, OF, P---
19cubgbrRoberto HernandezOF, 2B---

Herts Hawks (Single-A League)

1gbrGiuseppe Basilea1B, IF, OF, P---
2usaElroy DavisSS---
3gbrMichael Cunningham1B, OF---
4gbrHarry McmenaminP, 3B---
5gbrDanny PrestonIF, OF---
6irlAntonio LourencoIF, OF---
7gbrPaul Le GuillouLF---
8gbrAntony LavenderCF---
9gbrKennet PikeC, P, SS---
10porLuis MartinsIF---
11rsaDeclan CarleanOF, P, SS---
12canCameron SchultzC---
13gbrHarry EwenIF, OF, 2B---
14gbrNick BarnabyIF, OF, SS---
15porPedro MartinsP, SS---
16gbrTodd NevilleIF, OF---
17gbrCharlie ObrienC, OF---
18gbrDale HardwickCF---
19gbrLaurence Currington1B, IF---
20gbrPeter HoggIF, OF---
21gbrJack ObrienIF, OF, P---

Herts Raptors (Single-A League)

1gbrCallum FerrierIF/OF---
2gbrTom RokerIF, OF---
3gbrJamie BerlofskyOF, 2B---
4gbrBeth WainIF, OF---
5gbrBradley CalvertIF---
6ncaJoel EdenIF, OF---
7gbrjpnMarcus WathewIF, OF---
8gbrHarry WilliamsonIF, OF---
9gbrJack BurkettIF, OF---
10ltuMantas PoderysIF, P---
11gbrSimon Jackson-TurnerIF, OF---
12gbrBilly PerryIF, OF---
13gbrPaul AuchterlounieC, P---
14usaJohn Kjorstad1B, OF---
15gbrAdam ScalesIF, OF---
16gbrMax FarmbroughIF, OF, P---
17gbrEllie PageC, OF---
18porLuis MartinsIF---
19gbrRory VangundyOF, P, SS---
20gbrNoah TaborCF, LF---
21gbrLauren Dutch1B---
22gbrCalum ThompsonIF, OF---
23gbrJordon FoxSS---
24gbrJamie WiseIF, OF---
25gbrThomas BrowneIF, OF, P---

Herts Eagles (Single-A League)

1ausMichael WakelamC, IF, P, SS, 3B---
2gbrIsabella TrautmanIF, OFR/R--
3gbrAishiek Mitra NandyIF, OF---
4gbrReece Williamson-WhiteIF, OF---
5gbrAndy StratfordIF, OF, 2B---
6usaMax Trautman1B, OF---
7gbrPeter WilsonOF---
8gbrcypBradley CharalambousC---
9indParas Patravale3B---
10gbrThomas HillC, SS---
11gbrMichael Anunobi1B---
12gbrKumail JafferIF, OF, 2B, SS, 3B---
13gbrNeil Chilton1B, OF, P---
14usaDaniel GippleIF, OF---
15usaEvan RobinsIF, OF---
16gbrAlexander TrautmanIF, OF, P---
17gbrMichael GreenOF---
18gbrJoe GippleIF, OF, 2B---
19ausSaira SmithC, OF, P---
20denMohamed AbduleIF, OF---
21gbrJamie Lang-RichardsC, IF, P, SS---

Herts Londoners (Single-A League)

1gbrSammy EnglishIF, P, SS---
2gbrSony LamaC, CF, IFR--
3gbrSimon LangtonP, 2B, SS, 3B---
4gbrJack PageIF, OF---
5gbrZak BellerIF, OF, 2B---
6gbrAspi DimitrovIF/OF, IF, OF, P---
7gbrRob JonesC, 1B, IF, 2B---
8gbrHenry BellCF, IF, OF, PR/R--
9gbrMatthew BellIF/OF---
10usaArnold LongboyC, IF, P---
11usaGreg Bochan1B, IF, P, 3B---
12gbrJoseph FieldOF---
13tpeKenny Liao1B---
14tpeWei Chieh WangIF, P, 2B, 3B---
15usaCory EnglishIF, P, SS---
16gerNicolas GoetzIF, P, 3B---
17gbrHunter DevineC, CF, IF, OF, 2B---
18gbrJason ReynoldsCF, IF, OFR/R--
19gbrDan TaylorRF, 2B---
20gbrZephaniah Prime MenciasC, OF, P---
21gbrLuke WardC, OF, 2B---
22tpeNorman Peng1B, IF, LF, OF, 2B---
23venGilberto MedinaSS---
24gbrAndrew Slater1B, IF, P, 2B---
Sean Bennett joins Herts board

Sean Bennett joins Herts board

Sean Bennett has been co-opted to the board of Herts Baseball Club. He is one of the many new players who have joined the club and who will be playing for the Herts Cardinals in the BBF Triple-A league this year.

He and Herts Cardinals manager, Brian Dearing, have worked together as co-managers of the London Mammoths in the past and they will be operating together again. Dearing will be focusing on team management while Bennett will be covering the board duties as a representative of the Herts Cardinals department.

This approach is expected to help spread the workload, increase productivity and bring even more people with baseball and professional experience to the club’s front office.

“I look forward to working with the rest of the board and helping the club where I can to build upon its many successes” said Bennett.

Herts Baseball Club now has eleven board members.