Category: Cardinals

Teams starting to enter the 2023 Herts Spring League

Teams starting to enter the 2023 Herts Spring League

The game dates for the 2023 Herts Spring League (HSL) have been confirmed.

  • Saturday, 1 April 2023
  • Sunday, 2 April 2023
  • Saturday, 8 April 2023
  • Sunday, 9 April 2023
  • Saturday, 15 April 2023
  • Sunday, 16 April 2023

They are based on the indication from the BBF that the Opening Weekend of the NBL season is expected to be 15-16 April 2023. For the other leagues the Opening Weekend is expected to be 22-23 April 2023, although some lower league teams may play their opening games on 15-16 April 2023. More will be known when the BBF league schedules are published.

(photo by Tony Small)

Spring is the time when managers put together their teams and aim to turn them into winning machines ahead of Opening Day. Similar to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB, the HSL provides a competitive edge to Spring training. This is the sixteenth year of the HSL. Last year 19 teams took part. For more details visit the HSL site.

LEAGUE FORMAT
Teams will be placed in divisions based on their ranking going into the new season. The exact format will depend on the number of teams entering the HSL. Full details will be published when the league line-up is confirmed.

(photo by Tony Small)

TEAMS
Over the years the HSL has featured teams from the National Baseball League (NBL), Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A Leagues, as well as international teams such as the GB Under-19 and Under-16 National Teams and the ASL Eagles.

Teams from around the United Kingdom will be submitting their entries over the next few weeks and the HSL lineup and games schedule is expected to be published in early March.

VENUES

Games will be played at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead. If the two diamonds in Hemel Hempstead are filled to capacity with HSL games, some games may be scheduled at Basing Hill Ballpark in NW London for teams which find that venue more convenient.

The number of Herts baseball teams increases from 5 to 7

The number of Herts baseball teams increases from 5 to 7

Late last night Herts Baseball Club submitted its team entries in the various BBF leagues. In the previous year the club had five teams in the adult leagues. That number has increased to seven for the upcoming season.

The BBF gave Herts a 24-hour extension to submit their entries.  The main question which required more time to consider was whether to enter one or two teams in the National Baseball League (NBL).

“The club did consider the option to enter two NBL teams, as originally planned but, after assessing all of the aspects, we decided not to overstretch ourselves and instead create competition for roster spots and build a Herts Falcons team that can compete and attract fans as part of the NBL Pilot Project. We are also looking to put a structure in place to create a pathway for young players to join Herts, develop, win a spot on the NBL roster and reach their full potential internationally” said Herts Falcons manager, Cris Hiche.  

The Herts Falcons are back in the NBL this year and it will be interesting to see what the roster will look like when the players report for Spring Training on 19 February. Cris Hiche did not go into specific details but said, “our NBL roster will combine some experienced players with a large number of young players with enormous potential and we must give credit to Jonathan Rodriguez for that. It will be exciting to see what we can achieve with this group of players and we hope Herts baseball fans will enjoy supporting the team this season.”

The Herts Cardinals had a 10-16 record last year in the Triple-A league and there is no doubt that they will be pushing hard to climb up in the league standings this year.

In 2022 the club was not represented at the Double-A league level. This year there will be two Herts teams in that league tier. Herts Hawks have been promoted after reaching the Single-A league semi-finals last year. They are joined by the Herts Ducks – a new addition to the Herts baseball family. The Hawks will play their home games at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead while the Ducks will be based at Basing Hill Ballpark in north west London.

At the Single-A league level, there will be three Herts teams. In addition to the Herts Eagles and Herts Raptors we will see the return of the Herts Ravens whose last appearance was in 2013 in Triple-A.

Last season Herts had teams only in Triple-A and Single-A.  The club is now fully equipped to make a big push in all four league tiers which also puts the club in an excellent position to provide the path for players to work their way up the leagues from the youth programme covering players aged 6 to 14 all the way to the NBL – Britain’s top league.

The managers have left room in the team rosters and new players are continuing to register.

Herts publishes Spring Training schedules for its adult and youth league teams

Herts publishes Spring Training schedules for its adult and youth league teams

The BBF has indicated that the Opening Weekend of the NBL season is expected to be 15-16 April 2023. For the other leagues the Opening Weekend is expected to be 22-23 April 2023, although some lower league teams may play their opening games on 15-16 April 2023. More will be known when the BBF league schedules are published.

This is later than in previous years and the Spring Training schedule of the Herts teams has been adjusted accordingly to reflect this.

The Herts youth league is expected to start slightly earlier than last year. 

Here are the key 2023 Spring Training dates for the Herts adult and youth league teams. Events are subject to change due to weather or other reasons.

National Baseball League

Players will report for Spring Training on Sunday, 26 February 2023. This includes players who have expressed interest in trying out for the NBL. The schedule will include four weeks of training and three weeks of Spring Training games.

Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A League

Players will report for Spring Training on Sunday, 5 February 2023. Double-A and Single-A players based in Hemel Hempstead will start with several training sessions indoors. The schedule will include eight weeks of training and three weeks of Spring Training games.

Herts Spring League

The Herts Spring League is scheduled to start on the weekend of 1-2 April by which point the team managers are expected to have announced their preliminary rosters. The HSL will run for three weeks for Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A teams and for two weeks for the NBL teams as their BBF league season starts a week earlier.

Teams are expected to announce their Opening Day rosters shortly after their final HSL games.

Herts U15, U13, U11 youth league teams

Herts youth players will report for Spring Training on Saturday, 25 February 2023. The first four weeks will take place indoors alternating between indoor venues in Hemel Hempstead and in NW London. This will be followed by five weeks of Spring Training at Grovehill Ballpark and Basing Hill Ballpark. The Opening Day of the various age groups of the Herts Youth Baseball League is expected to be on Saturday, 29 April, subject to confirmation.

Full schedule

Registered players can view the full list of 2023 Spring Training dates, times and venues by logging into the Clubhouse.

Herts Baseball Club adds more board members ahead of the 2023 season

Herts Baseball Club adds more board members ahead of the 2023 season

The club has confirmed that the number of executive board members has increased to fifteen after the results of last month’s elections were announced along with the appointment of several additional board members who have been co-opted.

As part of the announcement of the partnership between Herts and Legends last month, it was already confirmed that the Herts Legends NBL team will be managed by Great Britain U18 national team manager and president of Legends Baseball Club, Jonathan Rodriguez. Today’s announcement confirms that he has now been appointed as a member of the club board. 

In addition to his role as Herts Legends manager, he has also been appointed as co-General Manager alongside the two other co-GMs, Arnold Longboy (pictured right) and Aspi Dimitrov, who have also been co-opted having served in that role over the previous twelve months. Rodriguez will cover the on-field aspects of the GM role, while Longboy and Dimitrov will focus on operations off the field.

Ken Pike and Sean Bennett have been re-elected as board member as Herts Hawks manager and Herts Cardinals representative, respectively.

Matt Bell has also been re-elected as co-manager of the Herts Londoners and he will be working alongside Andrew Slater who returns to the board having previously co-managed the Herts Hawks in 2016 when the team became Single-A League national champion winning every regular season and postseason game they played that year.

Ken Pike and Andrew Slater have already had the sweet taste of becoming national champions in 2016. Can they do it again in 2023 as managers of the Herts Hawks and co-manager of the Herts Londoners, respectively?

Mike Cunningham has been elected to the board as the new Herts Raptors manager. The team finished far from the playoff places in 2022 but has a wealth of young talented players who are progressing rapidly and are expected to start imposing themselves on the league in the next few years.

The club’s hopes of adding a Double-A League team at its Basing Hill branch was a hot topic at the annual general meeting and the club has made a statement of intent by co-opting Miguel Gibson as manager of that proposed Double-A team. In 2022 he was a member of the Croydon Pirates who became Double-A national champions. The race is now on to see if the club will be able to put together a roster to add that missing piece at Basing Hill. 

Players have started registering for the 2023 season and Herts team managers will shortly be assessing what the rosters might look like in 2023 in order to decide how many teams to enter this year and in which BBF leagues. The deadline for league entries is 31 January.

The Herts youth baseball programme has also been strengthened with the election of Stephen Wong as head of the Hemel Hempstead under-13 department. He gave the programme an huge boost when he joined the youth coaching staff last year.

Aspi Dimitrov has also been re-elected as president and facilities manager for Grovehill Ballpark.

Link to the full list of 2023 board members.  More members are expected to be added between now and Opening Day.

As part of the vote, club members approved the amendment of article 9.4 of the constitution related to the deadline for board nominations.

Adult and youth league players now registering for the 2023 baseball season

Adult and youth league players now registering for the 2023 baseball season

Player registration for the 2023 season has started.

In 2022 Herts Baseball Club grew by 7% and saw performance levels go up with teams climbing up the league standings. In 2023 the club will aim to raise performance levels further and enter teams in all four league tiers.

ADULT BASEBALL LEAGUES

How many teams will represent Herts in 2023? The next few weeks will be crucial as the number of players registering will determine how many teams will be entered before the league entry deadline on 31 January, how many will play in Hemel Hempstead and how many will play in London.

KEY DATES – ADULT TEAMS

(events and dates are subject to change)

  • February – players report for Spring Training
  • 25-26 March – Start of the 2023 Herts Spring League (subject to confirmation of the BBF league opening day)*
  • March-May – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • 9 or 16 April – BBF League Opening Day (subject to confirmation)*
  • May – Midweek Evening Baseball commences
  • August-September* – BBF Postseason Playoffs and National Championships
  • September-October – Hunlock Series

* – these are preliminary dates. The BBF will be making its official announcements in due course.

Click here for more details of the membership packages

YOUTH BASEBALL LEAGUES

2022 saw the second season of the Herts Youth Baseball League. The number of registered youth players grew again. In 2023 the club will aim to enhance and develop the programme and the league further to make Herts one of the leading clubs for youth baseball.

KEY DATES – YOUTH TEAMS

(events and dates are subject to changes)

  • February – players report for Spring Training
  • March-May – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • April – Opening Day of the Herts Youth Baseball League season
  • May-July – Midweek evening baseball sessions
  • June – UK Little League Qualifiers
  • July – BBF National Championships
  • July – European Little League Qualifiers
  • September – Herts Youth League Playoffs
  • September/October – Herts Futures Tournament

Click here for more details of the membership packages

WHICH BALLPARK WILL YOU PLAY YOUR HOME LEAGUE GAMES AT?

Herts has two ballparks. The online registration form will ask players to indicate whether they prefer to play their home league games in Hemel Hempstead or in NW London, or whether they would be happy with either. This will provide important information to club management when they configure the adult and youth team rosters for the new season.

HOW TO REGISTER FOR THE 2023 BASEBALL SEASON

Those who already have an account with the club will be prompted to register when they log on next time (click here to go to the Herts online Clubhouse and log on with your existing username and password). Those who are new to Herts Baseball Club and do not have an online account can register as members by completing this form. For more details about joining our teams in 2023 and the membership packages click here or contact us.

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.

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.

Carter, McMenamin, Dearing, Wong and Ferroni are the first round picks.

Carter, McMenamin, Dearing, Wong and Ferroni are the first round picks.

The 2022 Hunlock Series Draft was completed on Thursday night. The managers of the teams had a plethora of talent to choose from with 87 players drafted over 18 rounds.

THE FIRST ROUND PICKS

It was no surprise that four of the five first round picks were pitchers.

On a toss of a coin, the Herts Ducks had the first pick. Manager, Brad Charalambous, determined to keep as many players from his 2021 roster as possible, selected Kent Bucs pitcher, Chris Carter.

Green Pilgrims manager, Mike Cresswell, was next to pick. He selected one of the top performers of the Herts Hawks, pitcher and third baseman, Harry McMenamin.

Red Roosters boss, Jack O’Brien, chose Herts Cardinals player-manager Brian Dearing whose primary positions are starting pitcher and shortstop.

The Black Bears went for pitcher, Stephen Wong, who has settled very well on the mound in his first season with the Herts Cardinals in the Triple-A League.

Finally, the Blue Buzzards picked another Herts Cardinals player Giorgio Ferroni who will bring a lot of speed on the bases and in the outfield. It would be interesting if we could see him in a race with Herts Falcons legend, Robbie Unsell.

FREE AGENTS AND TRADES

The full team rosters determined at last night’s draft are shown here. Shortly after the end of the draft the Blue Buzzards traded infielders Vytas Macenas and Miguel Gibson to Black Bears in exchange for Giorgio Ferroni and catcher Hunter Devine.

As more players sign up to play they will be able to join the teams as free agents.

Carter, McMenamin, Dearing, Wong and Ferroni are the first round picks.

One of the players who has just appeared on the Free Agents Block is Herts Falcons and Great Britain catcher and pitcher, Conner Brown (pictured above), who would usually be a first round pick. We will keep you updated about free agent signings and trades over the course of the Series.

New players aged 14 or above, regardless of whether they are members of Herts or another club or completely new to baseball, can be added to the teams at any point. To be added to the teams or for more details contact Herts Baseball Club.

OPENING DAY

The Series commence on Sunday, 1 October. The first games start at 10:00am at Basing Hill Ballpark in north west London. Admission is free. For complete Series schedule click here.

Hunlock Series managers announced. The Live Draft is on Wednesday night.

Hunlock Series managers announced. The Live Draft is on Wednesday night.

We are counting down to the 2022 Hunlock Series Live Draft which will take place this Wednesday, 21 September at 8:00pm.

For those who are new to the Hunlock Series, in the days leading up to the Draft, the 100+ Herts players (aged 14 and over) and newly registered players mark their availability for the three weeks of the Hunlock Series. The team managers then take turns picking players one by one over the twenty or so rounds of the Draft. It will be interesting to see which players among the club’s 100+ players will be picked in the first round and who will be the very first pick.  In previous years, that honour has gone primarily to Conner Brown.

Players and fans can follow the Draft picks here as they happen. Participants will also be able to interact and chat about the Draft on the Herts Facebook Page, on Herts Twitter and in WhatsApp groups as the managers make their picks.

The team managers

Five teams go into this year’s competition. The managerial appointments have just been announced.

  • Black Bears – Matt Bell
  • Blue Buzzards – Danny Preston
  • Green Pilgrims – Mike Cresswell
  • Herts Ducks – Brad Charalambous
  • Red Roosters – Jack O’Brien

Fans will see some new faces in the Hunlock Series this year who have joined the club in the last few weeks, so there will be an element of surprise in Wednesday’s Draft. Some of them may be new to Herts fans but they are not new to the game. The Hunlock Series could be a glimpse at some of the new players who will be wearing the Herts uniform in 2023.

Historically the Herts adult league team managers have used the Hunlock Series games to evaluate current and new players in preparation for the new season, to populate their rosters and positions and to decide which leagues the Herts teams should go into in 2023.

How to regsiter

All Hunlock Series players will be drafted into teams. To be eligible for the Draft players will need to update their availability for all the Hunlock Series dates in the online Clubhouse by 7pm on Wednesday, 21 September. If you miss the deadline or the first one or two weeks of games, don’t worry. New players will still be eligible to play but will have to be assigned as free agents after the Draft.

If you already have a Clubhouse account you can update availability by logging on with your existing username and password. Click here to go to the Clubhouse.

If you do not have a Clubhouse account but wish to play in the Hunlock Series, please register here and select “Play Hunlock Series” in the membership category list. After registering you can log on and mark your availability.

To be eligible to play in the Hunlock Series, players must be 14 years of age or above on 31 December 2022.

Entry fee

2022 club members, including non-roster club members, do not have to pay an entry fee as the Hunlock Series is part of their membership package. If you don’t have a Hunlock Series team shirt, you can buy one before your first game. The price is £8. Many players already have Hunlock Series team shirts from previous years and, to keep costs down for players, an online group will be set up where they can exchange their shirt if they have been picked by a team wearing a different colour team shirt.

New players or players from other clubs can play by paying the £18 entry fee which includes a free Hunlock Series shirt of the team which has drafted them.

For more details about playing in the Hunlock Series, contact us.