Author: Herts Baseball News Editor

Another record year for Herts Baseball Club after a 7% growth and improved performance on the field

Another record year for Herts Baseball Club after a 7% growth and improved performance on the field

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.

Growth

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.

Competitiveness

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.

Finances

2022 Hunlock Series Roundup: Buzzards are the champions

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.

Ballparks

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.

Events

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. 

BBF news

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.

Pilot Project

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.

Board elections

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.

Outcome of disciplinary proceedings

Outcome of disciplinary proceedings

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that, in accordance with its constitution and club regulations, it investigated an umpire report related to player conduct during a Hunlock Series game on 9 October 2022.

A disciplinary panel considered the report and imposed a ban on Mike Wakelam for failing to respect the decisions of the game official and engaging in public criticism of the official. The ban means that Mike Wakelam had to miss the remaining Hunlock Series games and will also be banned for the first two BBF regular season games of the 2023 season.

The club reiterated that, over the years it has had very few disciplinary matters to deal with but, it is still important to increase awareness among its members about observing the club and BBF codes of conduct.

Herts publishes AGM details

Herts publishes AGM details

AGM NOTICE

In accordance with the Club’s Constitution, this is a notice of the upcoming 26th Annual General Meeting of Herts Baseball Club.  The AGM will take place as follows:
 
DATE
Sunday, 27 November 2022

TIME
10:30am (AGM expected to end at around 12:30pm-1:00pm)

VENUE
This year’s AGM will be held online via Zoom. Club members will receive an email with details how to join the Zoom call.

JUNIOR MEMBERS
Under the Club’s Constitution, members under the age of 14 on 31 December 2022 are classified as Junior Members and do not have voting rights at General Meetings. Regardless of this, if you are under the age of 14, you and your parents are very much invited to attend the AGM, especially as so many of the parents of our youth members are involved as players, coaches, volunteers and members of staff.
 
POTENTIAL NEW MEMBERS
Although only 2022 club members have the right to vote at this AGM, the meeting is very much open to potential new members who are considering joining the club in 2023.  This is a good opportunity for new players, volunteers and members of staff to learn more about the club and meet its members.  If you fall into this category and wish to attend the AGM, please contact the club.
 
OBSERVERS
The meeting is also open to observers who are not members of the Club. If you fall into this category and wish to attend the AGM please contact the club.
 
AGM PACK
Ahead of the meeting, the AGM Information Pack will be sent out to 2022 members. It will include information such as the AGM agenda, 2022 annual report, election details and more. 
 
ELECTION OF 2023 BOARD MEMBERS
In accordance with the Constitution, a number of Board positions will be up for election at the upcoming AGM either as part of the annual retirement of a third of the Board positions or because they are vacant.
 
The club is now inviting nominations for the following board positions:  
BOARD POSITIONS (appointment term in brackets)

  • President (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Secretary (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Facilities Manager – Grovehill (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Manager (NBL)2 Falcons (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Manager (Triple-A)2 Cardinals (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Hawks (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Raptors (term ends 31.10.2023)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Londoners (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Eagles (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Head of U15-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of U13-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2023)
  • Head of U11-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Head of U15-London (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of U13-London (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of Softball (term ends 31.10.2023)

Notes:

2 The leagues which Herts teams will enter in 2023 will not be known until after the AGM. The Club may also decide to add or remove teams from the BBF leagues depending on the number of players registering for 2023. If the club enters fewer teams than expected, one or more of these board positions may be removed after the AGM.
 
Current Board members are eligible to stand for re-election. All members are invited to consider any of the Board positions and put their names forward for one or several of them. 
 
Being a board Member is an excellent opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of Herts Baseball Club. If you are considering applying for any of the positions, but are unsure about it, you can get in touch with current or past board members who can give you more information about what the role involves and what to expect, if elected. If you require more information about any of the above board positions please contact the club.
 
HOW TO CONFIRM YOUR CANDIDACY
If you decide to run for any of these board positions please confirm your candidacy by posting a message in the Herts Baseball Online Forum. If you have difficulties accessing the forum with your username and password please contact the club.
 
NOMINATION PROCESS
Nominations require two votes – nomination and second.  Nominations of Board members can be received at any time, including during the AGM. Nominations can only be accepted from persons eligible to vote at the AGM. To nominate or to second a candidate, post in the Herts Baseball online Forum.
 
BOARD AND STAFF MEMBER REBATE
Ahead of the Board elections, a reminder that, in consideration of the time and effort which Board members give in performing their Board roles and which effectively means that they are unable to enjoy the full benefit of their membership, they will be entitled to a membership fee rebate. The Board reviews the rebate system from time to time. Here is an example of how it is likely to be applied during the upcoming season:

  •  members of the Board are expected to be entitled to a rebate of around 50% or more of the respective membership fee payable by them during the year. 
  • if one Board role is held by two or more individuals, such individuals can share the rebate between them as the burden of performing the role is shared between them.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
In accordance with article 14.3 of the Club’s Constitution “Additions to, or alterations of the constitution shall be submitted to the Secretary not less than 10 (ten) days before the date of the meeting. No resolution involving an amendment to the constitution may be proposed or amended from the floor of a meeting.” If any members wish to propose a constitutional amendment please send it by contacting the club by 23:59 on 17 November 2022, at the latest. You can find a copy of the Constitution on the club’s website (click to view).

Watford Sun-Rockets founder has passed away

Watford Sun-Rockets founder has passed away

We are sad to hear that the founder of the Watford Sun-Rockets, Peter Ash, passed away recently. 

He led the team to a national championship win in 1969 over the Liverpool Trojans – 8-7 after extra innings. This was the only Hertfordshire team to reach the NBL final until 2012 when the Herts Falcons lost in the final to the Harlow Nationals 6-3.  

Peter Ash was also selected by the Great Britain National Team and went on to win a silver medal in the 1967 European Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

Herts Baseball Club was informed about the sad news by his granddaughter who saw this article from 2012. She is trying to find out as much as possible about him and his club. 

If any of our readers happen to have any further information about the baseball career of Peter Ash and the Watford Sun-Rockets, please contact us and we will forward it to his family.

2022 MVP vote results are in

2022 MVP vote results are in

The Most Valuable Players (MVP) of the thirteen Herts adult and youth teams have been announced.  The players of each team voted to determine their team’s MVP so the results reflect who the players consider to have been the most influential members this year.

The Cardinals voted for Tyler Cote (pictured above) who proved to be one of the team’s most effective pitchers picking up 3 wins, one of which included an outing where he went five innings without allowing a hit. He led the pitching staff with 29 strikeouts. He also put up good offensive numbers including 2 home runs.

From the five Herts teams in the BBF adult leagues, the Herts Hawks had the best regular season record reaching the playoff semi-final and Harry McMenamin was one of the driving forces behind that success.  With a .594 batting average and .844 slugging average he was among the top three batters in the team. But his contribution was in all aspects of the game including an ERA of 2.00* on the mound and one of the team’s most reliable gloves in the infield (Fielding % .967). This is only McMenamin’s second season in the BBF leagues and he has now been voted MVP in both. Last year he was the Herts Raptors MVP. What will he do in 2023?

The Londoners also qualified for the postseason and there were a number of strong candidates for MVP, but it was first baseman Kenny Liao who led the team in so many different statistical categories including batting average (.646) and RBI (37). Whenever he stepped up to the plate there was the confidence that Kenny Liao will get on base and drive runs home. Pitcher and infielder Nic Goetz was a close second in the MVP vote.

Last year the Eagles were the club’s best performing team but they were missing some key players in big games which certainly cost them a number of wins this year. However, there is real excitement about the prospect of seeing 17-year-old pitcher Alex Trautman develop over the next few years. He was chosen as the MVP. He had the most wins and his 7.88 ERA came second behind Mike Wakelam’s 6.30. Trautman recorded 32 strikeouts – a phenomenal rate of 2 strikeouts per inning. He is now also starting to put up high offence numbers.

The Raptors voted John Kjorstad as their MVP.  He led the team in RBIs, home runs (3) and slugging average 1.000 and came second in batting average (.481) behind Thomas Browne (.556). It was Kjorstad’s two home runs and 7 RBI in the Raptors’ win against the Eagles that helped the team end a 21-game losing streak. 

Kjorstad’s performance on that day was also nominated for Play of the Year and it received the most votes in that category coming ahead of Zak Beller’s Grand Slam in the deciding game versus the Mustangs and the Eagles comeback from 1-9 to win 12-11 against the Londoners.

The Herts youth team coaches had the difficult task of breaking a number of ties in the MVP voting for the eight Herts teams.  The MVPs were:

  • Ben Peters, Herts U15
  • Chi Laam Wong, Herts U13
  • Kieran Mucklow, Herts Falcons U11
  • Emmett Rose, Herts Hawks U11
  • Joseph Kjorstad, Herts Raptors U11
  • Violet Jones, Herts Cardinals U11
  • Dimitri Petromarkov, Herts Eagles U11
  • Isabel Jones, Herts Londoners U11

Surprisingly, there were only two nominations for Nob-Out. Londoners Eddie Wang was nominated after calling time halting their away game in Guildford to walk over to the opponents’ dugout to claim the game ball which he hit over the fence for his first home run of the season a minute earlier. But it was Aspi Dimitrov who received the most votes. On the final weekend of their regular season, the Herts Londoners won two hard-fought games against Herts Eagles to ensure that London Mustangs are not able to overtake them in the Playoff race thanks to a better head-to-head record in a 2-way tie, only for Aspi Dimitrov to put the celebrations on hold when he informed the team several hours after the win that there is a peculiar scenario where other games could produce a 3-way tie which would bizarrely take Mustangs above Londoners. Celebratory social media posts had to be amended or put on hold over the course of that nail-biting week.

With 2022 award-winners confirmed, attention is already turning to preparations for the 2023 season. What will the new year bring? How many Herts teams will we see and which leagues will they play in? Which players will be challenging to move up the leagues and will a Herts team bring a national championship trophy home.

New players who are hoping to play in 2023 or would like to try baseball to help them decide, should contact the club so they stay updated about 2023 Spring Training.

* – based on the games that we have stats for.

2022 Hunlock Series Roundup: Buzzards are the champions

2022 Hunlock Series Roundup: Buzzards are the champions

The Blue Buzzards were the favourites to win this year’s Hunlock Series so it was no surprise when they beat the Bears in the Final late on Sunday evening as the sun was going down on the final game day of the 2022 season.

It may have been a stroke of luck that they had the first pick of Free Agents but manager, Danny Preston, certainly hit the jackpot when Conner Brown appeared in the Free Agents’ block when he would usually be a first-round-pick.

They dominated in the league stage during the first two weeks finishing in first place which put them in pole position for the Playoffs.

Glorious sunshine and clear skies for all three weeks of the Hunlock Series

At the other end of the standings the Ducks and the Pilgrims finished fourth and fifth, respectively, setting up a dramatic elimination series which the Ducks won 4-2.  They had to face the third-placed Black Bears next. Ducks ran out of pitching arms and, despite putting up a good fight, lost the series 4-2.

Pilgrims manager Mike Cresswell with some unusual headwear, presumably to make himself more aerodynamic

The second seeded Red Roosters went the distance against the Buzzards ut it was the blue team who won it to clinch a place in the final while the Roosters had to face the Bears in a best-of-3 semi-final series. A walk-off win for the Bears took them to the Final.

The Buzzards had a considerable advantage as the Bears pitchers had gone through two gruelling series earlier in the day and the reds won the Final 2-1.

Hunlock Series Scoreboard

This year’s Hunlock Series saw around 100 players play 64 one-inning games. Many of the players were new to Herts and the club hopes to see them wearing the Herts jersey when the 2023 British baseball season commences.

These were the final games of the 2022 baseball season. The players now take a break over the winter but Spring Training is not too far away and preparations for the 2023 season have already began.

If you are not a member of the club yet, the best way to keep up-to-date is to be added to the club’s mailing list. Contact us for more details about joining the club or to subscribe to the mailing list.

Kids from around the UK enjoy October baseball in Hemel Hempstead

Kids from around the UK enjoy October baseball in Hemel Hempstead

The Herts Falcons won the U15 division of the Herts Futures Tournament and the Herts Hawks won the U11 bracket but all the teams played their part in making this another successful edition of this competition.

The number of teams who entered the tournament was considerably lower than previous years but it is in the context of the BBF national youth baseball championships being cancelled a week earlier due to lack of teams so this is positive news that teams from Essex, Hertfordshire, London, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire came to play.

This was the first time that the Herts Futures Tournament is played in October but the weather conditions were ideal for baseball.

The day started with the traditional opening ceremony introducing the teams and umpires. With Great Britain U18 Head Coach, Jonathan Rodriguez, being present, this was a perfect opportunity for the players and fans to mark what has been a very successful year for the GB U12, U15, U18, GB Women’s team and of course for the GB senior team who made history by qualifying for the 2023 World Baseball Classic just a few weeks earlier. 

IMG_0423

The playing of the national anthem was followed by players and fans chanting “Let’s go GB”.

The first U15 game of the day was closely fought between the Herts Falcons and Essex Redbacks. The Falcons came out on top but by the narrowest of margins winning 4-3.  Redbacks put on another great performance in their second game of the day against the Northants Centurions but were once again edged out, this time 2-3.

This set up a clash between the Falcons and the Centurions for the U15 title. The Falcons came out on top.

WATCH: Highlights of Herts Falcons U15 vs Essex Redbacks U15

WATCH: Highlights of Herts Falcons U15 vs Northants Centurions U15

In the U11 division, the Herts Londoners put up a good fight against the Nottingham Rebels and Herts Hawks but were on the losing side in both games. That set up a dramatic match-up between the Hawks and Rebels.  The hometown team seemed to be in control but a grand slam by the Rebels in the penultimate inning tied the game. 

There was little room for error in the bottom of the final inning.  The Hawks managed to drive the winning run across the plate to win an edge-of-the-seat encounter.

Since its creation in 2008, the Herts Futures Tournament has been a great day for the youth baseball community to get together at the end of the year. The club was delighted to see so many players, parents and coaches come along to enjoy it once again.

Our full photo album from the day can be seen on our Flickr page – please feel free to find yourself!

View the HFT scoreboard and final standings.

photos by Rob Jones

Herts Futures Tournament this Saturday.

Herts Futures Tournament this Saturday.

7 teams will be in action at the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament (HFT) which will take place this Saturday, 1 October 2022. The number is considerably lower then in previous years but it is in the context of the BBF national youth baseball championships being cancelled last week due to lack of teams so this is positive news and an opportunity to end the 2022 youth baseball season on a high.

U15 Division

  • Essex Redbacks (U15)
  • Herts Falcons (U15)
  • Northants Centurions (U15)

U11 Division

  • Essex Redbacks (U11)
  • Herts Hawks (U11)
  • Herts Londoners (U11)
  • Nottingham Rebels (U11)

The opening ceremony will take place at 10:45am. The first games begin at 11:15am and games will be played right up to around 3:30pm.

To view the games schedule click here.

“Herts Baseball Club welcomes new players at any time of the year” said the club’s co-Director of Youth Baseball, Aspi Dimitrov. “Any children aged between 6 and 14 who are interested to give baseball a try should contact the club. It is not too late to play in these games, regardless of whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced player.”

The HFT was first held in 2008 and is now a permanent fixture in the British baseball calendar. It brings together youth teams from across the country for a day of baseball at one of the best baseball venues in the United Kingdom.

For more information about the event visit the Herts Futures Tournament homepage.

Hunlock Series starts this Sunday.  League and playoff games will adopt the 9th Inning game format.

Hunlock Series starts this Sunday. League and playoff games will adopt the 9th Inning game format.

The 9th Inning game format is back

The game schedule for the 2022 Hunlock Series has been published and it has been confirmed that the “9th Inning” game format is back which means that all games will be decided over a single inning only. This format was first adopted in the 2017 Hunlock Series. It recreates the tension and drama of the ninth inning.

The Green Pilgrims open the competition with a 4-game series against the Black Bears at 10am at Basing Hill Ballpark, followed by four more of these 4-game series with the day ending at around 5:30pm.

The following regulations will apply to the “9th Inning” format.

• The batting order of each team remains unchanged for the duration of the day unless a substitution is made.

• A substituted player cannot re-enter the same game, however that player can re-enter a subsequent game.

• The batter who was next to bat upon completion of the previous game will be the first batter in the next game with the rest of the batting lineup coming up to bat in order.

What is also noticeable from the schedule is that the home team alternates over the course of the 4-game series which implies that the fielding team in the bottom of the inning will remain on the field in the top of the inning of the subsequent game. This scheduling approach was adopted in previous years and it sped-up the games enormously as that halved the number of times teams go in and out of the field. There even was no need for warm-up pitches as the pitchers were ready. The downside is that a pitcher will need to stay on the mound for 6 outs without a break as opposed to the usual 3 outs, which could mean twice as many pitches thrown in an inning. This is where the defence can really help pitchers, by minimising errors and not adding to the pitcher’s pitch count.

League and Playoff Format

The first two weeks of the Series will see a league format where each team will play a total of 16 games, 4 games against each of their opponents.

The difference this year is that there will be a postseason playoff format in week 3 which will also feature the one-inning game format. See playoff tournament tree above.

Other rules

The other rules which differ from what teams are used to in the BBF leagues are:

• Pitching Restrictions. A player can appear as a pitcher in one, two or more games per day, but no player shall accumulate more than 3 innings (9 outs) as a pitcher over the course of the day. It is the responsibility of the opposing team to inform the umpire when a pitcher reaches the limit. Managers must inform opponents of the number of innings pitched by each of their pitchers during the day prior to the start of each game.

• No Mercy Rule will be in force.

• If the game is tied after completion of the final inning, each team is awarded half a win and half a loss in the standings.

The 2022 Hunlock Series Draft took place on Thursday night.  See more details here.

If you have not signed up to play in the Hunlock Series, it is not too late. Contact Herts Baseball Club for details on how to sign up.