Author: Rachel Steinberg

Better know a Falcon: Dennis Grogan

Welcome to Better Know a Falcon, where we get to know a bit more about the team off the field. First up to bat, new signing #50, Dennis Grogan.

When did you start playing baseball? How did you end up here in the UK?

I started playing when I was a kid back in Toronto, Canada, and so I played a few years up in the Northern League. I took a bit of a break and about seven years ago I started again. I played for Birmingham, for Leicester, and this year [Herts] because this was the closest National League team. I’ve played against them in the past and there are some really good people. I thought, OK, I’ll give it a shot, and tried out for the Herts team.

Were you always a pitcher?

No! I only started pitching in the last few years. I just try to throw the ball in the right place, and when someone’s trying to give more complicated signs I’m just kind of standing there, but, no, it’s fun. It’s good to pitch, I do have fun pitching, and I think it’s a key role to help get the team running in the right way for the game.

What do you do when you’re not playing baseball?

I’ve got a wife and three kids. Our eldest lives in Liverpool so we were in Liverpool last weekend for the bank holiday. I [also] have a 20-year-old and a 13-year-old.

Do they play?

No, unfortunately my son played for a little bit, but as kids get older they get girlfriends and start jobs and lose a bit of interest. On the weekends, because he works during the week, he likes spending [time] with his girlfriend.

We’re both Canadian, so we’re both from a country where baseball isn’t the number one sport…

No! Hockey.

Why do you think more British people should pay attention to baseball?

It’s basically two different games, I think, because if you have really great pitching, it’s a pitchers’ duel. Now, some people may find that boring but for me it’s great because the pitchers are really on the game and striking guys out. On the other hand, when it’s a good hitting game and runs are scoring, I think that’s what the British people would like. They like seeing goals and runs and that’s when it’s exciting because there’s all different things to do. A lot of strategy happens within the game as well. So I think, yeah, if they spent some time and looked at the game and watched a few they would get right into it.

So you just joined a new team, and I was just thinking of Vladimir Guerrero Junior who just joined our favourite team [Toronto Blue Jays]. What do you do when you join a new team?

Yeah, joining a new team, most of the time [you] know the [other] players because you’ve played against them for years, but, again, some teams have brand new players as well, so it’s a good mix. You come in, you know a few people, so you kind of gel quite quickly. A lot of guys in the British leagues…everybody knows each other so we’re very welcoming. Even if a new person doesn’t know anybody, they’ll know someone’s life story after the first week.

Is there a Falcon you were especially excited to play with?

That’s a hard question! In particular, actually, one of the new Falcons, Gary [Davison]. I’ve always respected Gary when I’ve played against him. He was always a hard batter to throw to, but he was one of those… it was always a good challenge as well! I think he won most of those challenges. Yeah, it’s good that he’s on my team now, and even though I’m 47 I’m still learning, and he’s a really good player to take some pointers off of.

If you could have a dream coaching session with any professional player, who would it be?

Oh, [former Blue Jays manager] Cito Gaston! Cito Gaston definitely.

Is there a Falcon you want to learn more about? Feel free to tweet me @pygmyslowloris!

Team GB’s Gary Davison joins Falcons

Gary Davison, the pitcher responsible for the Herts Falcons’ greatest playoff upset defeat, is now a member of the team.

The right-hander, who also plays first base and third base, is a member of Team GB and was the 2016 NBL MVP.

Davison — seen above pitching for the Southampton Mustangs — cited the Falcons’ strong ethic as his reason for joining the squad. “[The Falcons] play with heart and never give up,” he said. “Hopefully I can make a positive contribution to win the trophy this year.”

“Gary is a great addition to the team” said manager Cris Hiche. “He has a proven record in the NBL…he’s also a great guy to have in the clubhouse.”

As a member of the Division 1 Burgess Hill Colts, Davison was the key factor in Herts’ dramatic extra-innings playoff loss in 2006.

After rallying back from a 10-6 deficit, the Colts took a 12-10 lead in the ninth against the Premier Division Falcons, who would force the game into extra innings. Down 13-12 in the tenth, with no outs and a runner on third, Herts looked poised to tie the game.

Davison single-handedly ended the inning—and the Falcons’ playoffs—striking out the next three batters. His complete-game victory propelled the Colts into the Premier Division, relegating the Falcons to Division 1.

A true two-way player, the 2016 NBL home run leader represented British baseball as one of ten participants in MLB Battlegrounds’ home run derby in July 2017. He competed alongside 14-year MLB vet Carlos Peña, World Series champion and All-Star Cliff Floyd, as well as England cricketers Jos Buttler and Alex Hales.

The event, which took place in Hyde Park, drew about 12,000 spectators. “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life, by far!” said Davison.

Davison (centre) with Peña (left) and Floyd (right). Photo credit Extra Innings UK.

With the Falcons set to make their continental club competition debut in 2019, Davison’s international playing experience, which includes two European Championships in Pool A, will no doubt be an asset.

“I believe [we] have a chance of winning [the Federations Cup qualifier],” he said, “especially if we just play British baseball as a team and a family.”

That new baseball family is eager to see what Davison can do in a Herts uniform.

He feels the same. “I’m looking forward to playing with you guys instead of against you all the time,” he told the Falcons. “I’ve chosen the right team to play for.”