Herts Baseball Club has announced the appointment of Cris Hiche as manager of the Herts Falcons who are preparing to make a return to the National Baseball League (NBL) this year.
This is a very timely homecoming for him as Falcons manager and looks to be a perfect fit given the fact that he played with the London Legends last season and last month Herts and Legends merged their NBL operations. This puts him in an excellent position to build a strong team made up of returning Falcons players alongside 2022 Legends players and new arrivals.
“It’s an honour to be back home so to speak and what better way than by not leaving Legends, the organisation I played for last year,” Hiche commented “It’s going to be an exciting season and I have a feeling, and hope, Herts fans might be in for further nice surprises in the upcoming weeks”.
This news comes a day after the club introduced financial incentives for its NBL players and coaches.
Herts president, Aspi Dimitrov, said, “Everyone at the club is delighted to see Cris back in charge of the Falcons in what is going to be a pivotal year for the club. Every game will be crucial not only to rebuild the team’s position in Britain’s top league but also to find a way into the NBL playoff race as the club aims to grow its fan base and bring spectators to the ballpark as part of the NBL Pilot Project launched last month. Cris already has a strong connection with Herts baseball fans which is another essential component for this project.”
Cris Hiche first joined the Falcons ahead of the 2012 season and it is not a coincidence that the next four seasons proved to be among the best in the club’s history as the team qualified for the NBL playoffs in three out of those four seasons. That included finishing as NBL runner-up in 2012 and reaching the NBL Playoff semi-finals in 2013 and 2015. That success elevated the team into 38th place of the European ranking.
His outstanding performances were recognised with the NBL Outfield Gold Glove award in 2012 and 2013 when he did not commit a single error. In 2013 he was also the team’s home run leader.
Hiche also played a key role in the club’s youth baseball department as the head of the U17 and U19 programmes. In 2013 he led the Herts U17 team to the National Final finishing as runners-up which is the club’s highest position in that age group.
In 2016 Hiche signed a professional contract with the Dornbirn Indians in the Austrian top league. He had the third best batting average in the team (.314) with a slugging average of .412 and on-base average of .455. He committed only 2 errors that entire season ending with a fielding average of .979.
In 2017 he returned to the UK and was back in a Herts uniform. In 2018 he became Falcons manager. During that season the team exceeded all expectations qualifying for the playoffs and shocking the NBL by eliminating first the Southampton Mustangs and then the London Capitals.
In the NBL final they lost to the London Mets but being runner-up meant that the team had booked a place in the 2019 European Federations Cup qualifier for the first time in the club’s history. They came up against tough opponents from Sweden, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria but held their own.
2021 proved to be a difficult season for the Falcons. Cris Hiche had to go back to Chile for most of the year due to family bereavement. The team’s roster was seriously depleted and the club had to make the painful decision of withdrawing the team from the 2022 NBL season.
Prior to joining Herts, Hiche developed in the USA where he played at the high school, college and semi-professional league level as well as on the international stage playing for the Chile U12, U16 and the senior national teams. Between 2008 and 2010 he played for the Sahuaripas in the Mesa Semi-Pro League alongside former or injured Minor League players trying to work their way back into the pros, as well as former MLB players such as former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Omar Daal.
The Falcons are back in the NBL now and Cris Hiche’s attention is firmly on preparing the team for a challenging but exciting season in the NBL.
Players can express interest in trying out for the 2023 NBL season by completing this form.