Category: Adult Leagues

BBF to run umpire training course alongside HSL games in Hemel Hempstead

BBF to run umpire training course alongside HSL games in Hemel Hempstead

The British Baseball Federation (BBF) will be running an umpire training course at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead on Saturday, 19 March. It will take place alongside the Opening Day games of the 2022 Herts Spring League at that venue.

Experienced umpires, John Baxendale and Mike Shepard, will be the instructors. The format of the course is expected to include 2 “crash courses” through the day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – but that will depend on the number of umpires who sign up to take part.

It is open for all but primarily targeted at “team umpires”. This new format of training focuses on the very basic principles of umpiring with great emphasis on plate work. Attendees will feel more comfortable in taking their position behind the catcher to call their games. Some baseball knowledge is expected but no umpiring experience is needed.

Each course is expected to be around two or two and a half hours long so members of teams who have HSL games in the afternoon can attend the course in the morning and vice versa.

For more information about the course and to express your interest in attending, send an email to umpiring@britishbaseball.org

5 Herts teams enter the 2022 BBF leagues. Falcons aiming for 2023 return to NBL.

5 Herts teams enter the 2022 BBF leagues. Falcons aiming for 2023 return to NBL.

With just a few hours remaining until the deadline for British baseball clubs to submit their league entries for the 2022 baseball season, Herts Baseball Club confirmed that they will once again be entering five teams.

Herts Falcons

However, the Herts Falcons are not among them. The team had a difficult season last year finishing in last place with a record of 1 win and 24 losses. They went into it with a depleted roster of 15 players and suffered further setback when player-manager, Cris Hiche, had to go back to his home country due to a family bereavement. Another three players and the interim manager left partway through the season.

In November, the club started the process of rebuilding the roster.  Despite a large number of players signing up to try out with the team, the club struggled with the appointment of a new manager.  They came close to securing a highly rated candidate last month but he received a contract offer from an MLB club.  The identity of that coach has not been made public yet to enable him to decide when to do so in what is a very positive news story for British baseball.

This morning club president, Aspi Dimitrov, said: “we ran out of time and we have to bear the pain of withdrawing our flagship team from the National Baseball League”.

We understand the club considered assigning the Falcons team name to one of its other teams in the lower leagues in order to continue the team’s record of 26 uninterrupted seasons playing in the BBF leagues, but decided against it. “Our work to rebuild the Falcons continues and our target now is the 2023 season” said Dimitrov.

The club’s other five teams will now have to carry the Herts flag in the playoff races this year.

Herts Cardinals (Triple-A)

The Cardinals are the newest Herts team, unveiled just a week ago.  They go into the Triple-A league – the second tier in the British baseball league system. When taking on the role, team manager Brian Dearing did not expect that his team would have the extra pressure of being the club’s highest ranked team but Herts fans hope that the team will thrive on this.

The Cardinals will play their home games at the club’s Basing Hill Ballpark in North West London which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in late April or early May.

Herts Hawks (Single-A)

The Hawks are one of four Herts teams which will play in the BBF Single-A league. They will be managed by Ken Pike, who was in charge of the Herts Raptors last year.  His team is expected to feature many of his 2021 Raptors players but the squad may also feature new faces as the competition for places intensifies.  The Hawks will play their home games at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.

Herts Raptors (Single-A)

As confirmed at the end of January, Mantas Poderys, is back at the helm. He managed the Raptors in 2020 bringing his trademark enthusiasm but the season was wiped out by Covid so this will be his managerial debut in the BBF leagues.  The Raptors will play their home games at Grovehill.

Herts Londoners (Single-A)

Last year Herts Londoners improved on their win-loss record of the previous season but the team still finished far from the playoff places. They hope to climb up the standings further this year.  Co-manager Arnie Longboy has taken up the front office role of co-General Manager and Matt Bell takes his place as co-manager. The Londoners will play their home games at Basing Hill.

Herts Eagles (Single-A)

The Eagles finished the season with the best record out of the three Herts teams in the Single-A league last season with some exceptional numbers put up by MVP, Mike Wakelam, including 9 home runs. Will he be back with the Eagles or will he be called up by the Cardinals to the Triple-A team.  The Eagles hope to announce their new manager soon.

It remains to be seen if all four Herts Single-A teams will be placed in the same pool which would mean that there would be a plethora of Herts derby games this season.  Would this increase the chances of seeing a Herts team reach the playoffs or will the four Herts teams end up knocking each other out? In the next few weeks the BBF will also reveal who they will face. Will it be their old rivals the Redbacks the Minotaurs and the Mustangs who are the reigning Single-A national champions or will the BBF reshuffle the composition of the pools perhaps bringing in teams like the Richmond Dukes and the Bracknell Inferno?

The managers have left some room in the rosters so new players can still join the Herts teams. However, the club reported that the number of players registering to play is higher than on deadline day last season so those available places are likely to be filled quickly.

Herts also announced the tryout dates to play for the Herts Cardinals in the Triple-A league.  For more details contact the club.

Triple-A tryout dates

Triple-A tryout dates

Last week the club unveiled its new Triple-A League team – the Herts Cardinals – who will play their home games at Basing Hill Ballpark.

Players interested to try out for Triple-A are invited to attend one or several of the sessions listed below to enable the coaching staff to assess them.

7pm-9pm, Thu, 17 Feb 2022, indoor venue in NW London*
11am-2pm, Sun, 27 Feb 2022, outdoor venue in NW London
7:45pm-9pm, Thu, 3 Mar 2022, indoor venue in NW London*
7:45pm-9pm, Thu, 10 Mar 2022, indoor venue in NW London*

To express interest in trying out, contact the club indicating the session(s) which you would like to attend.

* the club is raising funds for the Basing Hill Ballpark project so the cost of hiring the indoor venue in London will be covered by asking players to each pay around £6 for the 2-hour session and £3 for the 1-hour session.

Herts unveil new team

Herts unveil new team

Herts Baseball Club has announced that they will enter a new team in the BBF Triple-A league for the upcoming 2022 season. The name of the team is the Herts Cardinals.

The team will play their home games at the club’s Basing Hill Ballpark in North West London which is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in late April or early May.

The team will be managed by player-manager Brian Dearing (pictured above right) who brings with him many years of experience playing in the United States and the United Kingdom. He grew up in Michigan where he played on his high school varsity team.  His education and professional career took him to the United Kingdom where he practices as a lawyer, but he continued  to play baseball, initially with the Edinburgh Cannons in the Scottish league and then, after moving to London, with the London Mammoths between 2016 and 2021. The Mammoths qualified for the playoffs in four out of those five seasons. In his last two years with the Mammoths, Brian served as one of the co-managers of the team. They reached the Triple-A league playoffs last year where the team lost to Vetra who went on to win the Triple-A championship and promotion to the National Baseball League.

There have been a number of Herts teams which have played at the Triple-A league level over the years.  In 2008 the Herts Falcons became Triple-A national champions and won promotion to the National Baseball League.  In 2010 the Herts Eagles reached the Triple-A national semi-final.  The club’s last team to play in Triple-A was the Herts Londoners who missed out on a place in the 2019 playoffs when a ruling by the league on the incomplete regular season schedule went against them.

Drawing of Basing Hill Ballpark which will be the Herts Cardinals’ home field and which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in May 2022

Places on the Cardinals’ roster are still up for grabs and existing Herts players or new players can contact the club to try out with the team. The preliminary squad will be confirmed later this spring ahead of the Herts Spring League. The Opening Day roster will be published shortly before the team makes its Triple-A league debut on 10 April. After Opening Day, there will still be opportunities for players from the Herts lower league teams to be called up to the Triple-A team or for Herts NBL players to be assigned to the Cardinals for development.

The club has been having talks with candidates about the vacancy for the Herts Falcons manager in the National Baseball League and hopes to have an update on this as we approach the BBF league entry deadline. The club will also have news about all its other team entries for the 2022 British baseball season.  Last week the BBF announced that the deadline has been extended to midnight on 11 February so Herts have a little more time to make these key decisions.

Mantas Poderys

Return of the Mantas

The Herts leadership team for 2022 has taken further shape, with the return of Mantas Poderys. He has been co-opted by the club’s Executive Board as manager of the second Single-A team which will play in Hemel Hempstead.

Mantas was elected as the manager of the Herts Raptors at Grovehill for the 2020 season, only to see it all but wiped out by the pandemic.

However, he was instrumental in the creation and running of the internal league competition which was run at Hemel Hempstead that year, once organised sport was given the go-ahead in the summer. The Herts Baseball Development League was a huge success, which allowed players from all levels to see some game action.

Mantas brought his trademark enthusiasm to the project, the same spirit which saw him make such an impact in his first year as a player at Herts in 2019. His constant desire to improve — combined with endless encouragement of his team-mates — marked him out for a key role.

He had to step back from management in 2021 for personal reasons, but is now raring to go again. The Board was happy to approve his application and we are excited about what lies ahead.

Mantas Poderys (L) with Raptors in 2019

BBF league entries will be finalised in the coming days but the expectation is that two Single-A teams will be based at Grovehill. Most likely they will be the Raptors and the Hawks, but the managers will make the final call. Ken Pike, who led the Raptors last year, remains in place as a manager and is keen to build on last year’s progress.

The club has been having talks with candidates about the vacancy for the Herts Falcons manager. Players report for the first time for training this weekend, January 30th, so planning will take another step forward then.

Teams starting to enter the 2022 Herts Spring League

Teams starting to enter the 2022 Herts Spring League

The game dates for the 2022 Herts Spring League (HSL) have been confirmed.

  • Saturday, 19 March 2022
  • Sunday, 20 March 2022
  • Saturday, 26 March 2022
  • Sunday, 27 March 2022
  • Saturday, 2 April 2022
  • Sunday, 3 April 2022

They are based on the indication that the BBF league season will start on 3 April 2022 for the National Baseball League and on 10 April for all other senior leagues.

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 fifteenth year of the HSL. Every year this competition keeps growing. Last year a record 22 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

All games will be played at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.

MLB pitcher is in town

MLB pitcher is in town

Baltimore Orioles minor league pitcher, Kyle Martin, is in London this month and Herts Baseball Club will be supporting him to continue his preparations for the 2022 baseball season during his visit.

The 23-year-old right handed pitcher was drafted by the MLB team in the fifteenth round of the 2019 Draft. So far in his professional career with the Orioles Single-A affiliates Aberdeen IronBirds and the Delmarva Shorebirds he has a 4-4 record with an ERA of 4.66.

As part of his pre-season training program, he will have two bullpen sessions while he is here in the United Kingdom.

He will be working with catcher Conner Brown who is also 23 years old and who came through the Herts youth baseball programme and went on to play for the Herts Falcons in the National Baseball League and for the Great Britain National Team.

This is a rare opportunity for Herts youth and adult team pitchers and catchers to observe a bullpen session of an MLB pitcher.

Board appointments at Herts. Falcons manager news expected soon.

Board appointments at Herts. Falcons manager news expected soon.

Herts Baseball Club confirmed the following board appointments from the club’s elections at its annual general meeting.

  • Treasurer – Aspi Dimitrov
  • Shop Manager – Matt Bell
  • Welfare Officer – Mark Caress
  • Facilities Manager (Grovehill Ballpark) – Aspi Dimitrov

Following the elections, the board has also co-opted several members to fill vacant board positions.

Single-A team managers

Matt Bell and Aspi Dimitrov have been co-opted as co-managers of one of the Single-A league teams based at the club’s ballpark in London. Last year the team was managed by Arnie Longboy and Aspi Dimitrov but Longboy has today been appointed to a different board position, more details of which are included below.

In the next week or so the club also expects to appoint the manager of the second Single-A team in Hemel Hempstead.  Ken Pike continues as manager of the first Single-A team at Grovehill Ballpark.

General Manager

As part of the plans for the Herts Falcons in the NBL and revamping the club’s overall commercial structure,  the club has introduced a new board position of General Manager and has co-opted Arnie Longboy and Aspi Dimitrov as joint GMs. Both of them bring years of professional experience in business and sports management. The role of the GM varies in different industries, but over the years has become an integral part of north American sports.

Herts Falcons Manager

Rebuilding the Herts Falcons roster and making the team competitive in the National Baseball League (NBL) in the coming years is a key element of the club’s short and long term plans and the next step which is of the highest priority for this project is the appointment of the new Falcons manager. The club hopes to have news on this shortly.

Players can express interest in playing for the Falcons in the NBL by completing this online form.

Adult and youth league players now registering for the 2022 baseball season

Adult and youth league players now registering for the 2022 baseball season

Player registration for the 2022 season has commenced.

In 2021 Herts Baseball Club grew by 44% introducing many newcomers to the game of baseball. The goal for 2022 is to bring performance levels of all Herts adult and youth league teams up and to move up the league standings.

ADULT BASEBALL LEAGUES

How many teams will represent Herts in 2022? 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; how many will play in Hemel Hempstead and how many will play in London; which leagues the teams will play in.

KEY DATES – ADULT TEAMS

(events and dates are subject to change depending on Covid-19 restrictions)

  • 30 January – players report for Spring Training
  • 19-20 March – Start of the 2022 Herts Spring League (subject to confirmation of the BBF League Opening Day)*
  • March-April – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • 3 or 10 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

Last year saw the first season of the Herts Youth Baseball League. The number of registered youth players rose from 21 in 2020 to 75 in 2021 which is the highest in the club’s history. 2021 was just the starting point. In 2022 and subsequent years the club will aim to enhance and develop the programme further to make Herts one of the leading clubs for youth players.

KEY DATES – YOUTH TEAMS

(events and dates are subject to change depending on Covid-19 restrictions)

  • March – players report for Spring Training
  • March-April – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • May – Opening Day of the Herts Youth Baseball League season
  • May-July – Midweek evening baseball sessions
  • June – UK Little League Qualifiers
  • July – European Little League Qualifiers
  • mid-July – Playoffs and Finals of the Herts Youth Baseball League
  • September – BBF Playoffs and National Championships
  • September – 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 2022 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 2022 and the membership packages click here or contact us.