Category: Club News

Herts submits its bid to host the 2021 National Baseball Championships

Herts submits bid to host the 2021 National Baseball Championships

Herts Baseball Club has submitted its bid to host 2021 Postseason Playoff games in the adult leagues of the British Baseball Federation (BBF). If the BBF awards any of these events to Herts, they will be staged at the club’s Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.

Richmond Flames lifting the NBL trophy at Grovehill Ballpark in 2010 (photo by event-photos.co.uk)

The events which clubs are invited to bid for include the Wild Card Playoffs and National Semi-Finals and Finals of all four BBF league tiers, from the Single-A League to the National Baseball League (NBL).

Grovehill Ballpark has previously hosted the National Baseball Championships (NBCs) in 2010 and 2012.  In 2013 the national baseball and softball complex at Farnham Park was constructed and these NBC games were held at that venue since then.

Action from the 2010 NBL playoffs hosted by Herts (photo by event-photos.co.uk)

However, the costs of staging these events at Farnham Park are proving to be very high and the BBF has decided to open the opportunity for clubs to host these high-profile events at their own ballparks similar to how the Football Association held England national team and Football League Playoff Final games around the country while the new Wembley Stadium was being built.

Championship-winning moments like this from 2010 could return to Grovehill Ballpark this year (photo by Will Baxter)

Herts Baseball Club has also expressed interest in hosting the National Youth Baseball Championships and is awaiting details from the BBF of the bidding process.

The Postseason games will be played in September. The exact game schedule and the successful bidder(s)  will be announced by the BBF in the coming weeks.

Basing Hill Ballpark campaign boosted after Barnet pledges £4,000

Basing Hill Ballpark campaign boosted after Barnet pledges £4,000

The Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign has received a boost with the news that its pitch to the London Borough of Barnet was successful and they have made a pledge of £4,000 to the project.

Herts Baseball Club suffered a setback in March when they learned that they narrowly missed out on funding from The Mayor of London‘s Make London Fund.

Since then the club has been in discussions with businesses and organisations and, although the campaign is still far from its fundraising target, today’s news may have a positive effect on the discussions which are taking place with other potential backers.

The pledge from Crowdfund Barnet means that, to date, the campaign has received pledges from 125 backers amounting to £16,528 which is 29% of the £55,804 target.

Businesses, sponsors and other backers who may be interested to support the project can contact the club to discuss ways in which this could be a good fit and beneficial for them. They would have the additional assurance from the fact that the club passed the project viability verification process carried out by the independent organisation Locality, which was a prerequisite to pitch to the Mayor of London.

14th Herts baseball team makes a late league entry

14th Herts baseball team makes a late league entry

The 2021 baseball season is now in full swing. Last weekend there were eight adult and four youth league games involving five Herts adult league and eight youth league teams. Herts Baseball Club is growing and now has thirteen teams.

The news of the Herts Youth Baseball League (HYBL) which was launched this season has been spreading and a new fourteenth team – the Herts Hawks U11 – has just made a late entry into the league. They will be based in Hemel Hempstead and will be added to the U11 Division of the HYBL.  They missed the opening games but the league schedule will be adjusted so that they can make up those games over the course of the season.

The Hawks (U11) will play their first league games this Saturday, 5 June, with a total of six games being played at the club’s two ballparks in Hemel Hempstead and in North West London.

DateHomeTime/ResultsAwayLeagueField
HYBL (U15)
Grovehill Ballpark
HYBL (U11)
Grovehill Ballpark
HYBL (U11)
Grovehill Ballpark
HYBL (U11)
Grovehill Ballpark
HYBL (U15)
Basing Hill Ballpark
HYBL (U11)
Basing Hill Ballpark

Players are continuing to register and they are being added to the teams every week.  New players are able to come and play in the next games to help them decide if they would like to join the league.  Contact the club for more details.

Herts Baseball Club receives grant to promote baseball for children in Grovehill

Herts Baseball Club receives grant to promote baseball for children in Grovehill

Herts Baseball Club has been awarded a £1,000 Herts Sports Partnership grant from its Active Local Tackling Inequalities Fund secured from Sport England.

The fund aims to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities in sport and physical activity in ten Active Local areas around Hertfordshire which have high number of people on low income.

One of those ten Active Local areas is Grovehill in Hemel Hempstead which is where the club’s baseball ballpark is located.

The funds will be used to promote baseball for children in Grovehill by staging free open days at the ballpark and taster sessions in local schools.

Kids will then be able to join the youth baseball teams playing in the Herts Youth Baseball League which the club is launching this year for boys and girls aged 6 to 14. The aim is to give local children the opportunity to play baseball in a family environment and keep them physically active and involved in community activities for many years to come.

The club received the funding last month and has already staged three open days at Grovehill Ballpark. There is one more coming up this Saturday, 22 May, before the league season starts on Saturday, 29 May. Boys and girls, from complete beginners to advanced players, can contact the club to book their place to try baseball for free at an upcoming event.

For more information about Herts Sports Partnership visit their website.

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding deadline extended

Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding deadline extended

The Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign deadline has been extended to July 21.

Herts Baseball Club suffered a setback in March when they learned that they narrowly missed out on funding from The Mayor of London‘s Make London Fund.

Since then the club has been in discussions with businesses and organisations and, although the campaign is still far from its fundraising target, it may receive a considerable boost if one or several of these discussions lead to a pledge.

The extension of the deadline gives the potential backers, who have expressed interest in the Basing Hill Ballpark project, additional time to consider whether they would like to make a pledge.

To date, the campaign has received pledges from 124 backers amounting to £12,528 which is 22% of the £55,804 target.

Businesses, sponsors and other backers who may be interested to support the project can contact the club to discuss ways in which this could be a good fit and beneficial for them. They would have the additional assurance from the fact that the club passed the project viability verification process carried out by the independent organisation Locality, which was a prerequisite to pitch to the Mayor of London.

Historic first for Herts is a highlight of Opening Day

Historic first for Herts is a highlight of Opening Day

The Herts Falcons chalked up an historic moment for the club on Sunday’s Opening Day, fielding two women players in the NBL side for the first time.

Jessica Vernon and Marianna Casal were on the team which took on the Essex Arrows at Grovehill to start the 2021 BBF season. Unfortunately, they were on the wrong end of two high-scoring defeats, but that couldn’t overshadow the importance of the moment.

Women’s baseball in the UK has made huge and sudden strides over the past 18 months, and Herts is delighted to be a part of that. The club is proud of its record in being open to all talents, and has featured several women players in its ranks over the years – but never at the top level. We are hopeful this can be another step forward, and our aim is to grow the game for all groups.

We think this might have been the first NBL team to feature two women players, and the first to have one of them pitch – but we can’t be certain of that. When Jess Vernon did take the mound, she was certainly highly effective – recording the only 1-2-3 inning for either side on the day.

Marianna Casal in action (pic: Tony Small)

Marianna Casal has been linked to Herts for many years through her family, as her father and brother have both played for the club. That deep connection runs from the first Herts Little League sides, where she was a singer, fan, mascot and then a player. She won a European Championship with the GB under-19 softball side in 2016.

Marianna as a junior Herts fan

Sharing the diamond with her brother and father on Sunday at Grovehill gave the day an extra-special element:

After so many years of being on the sidelines just watching how cool they are, I was excited that I’m a part of it now. They are such a huge part of why I am where I am now. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities that I am getting to progress in the sport that I love – and grateful to Falcons coach Cris Hiche for saying he wanted me on the team.”

In 2017, Jessica Vernon made her first appearance at Grovehill Ballpark. She played for Bracknell’s Single-A side against the Raptors. Since then she has had success in softball and competitive cheerleading, and back to baseball to become a leading light in the women’s game.

She is a founder member of Belles Baseball, who were the first women’s team to enter the Herts Spring League, and who will be part of the inaugural women’s league in 2021. The team was recently featured on BBC television and has been spreading the word about women’s baseball.

Jessica’s performance was rewarded with the BSUK Player of the Week award, which is based on nominations from the baseball community.

Jess Vernon pitching (pic: Tony Small)

The Falcons have seen a lot of change in the off-season and enter this year with fresh hopes. The games against the Arrows were competitive, but not perhaps classics of tight baseball. Game 1 ended 16-13 to the visitors, while game 2 stepped up another level into a football score, ending 24-23.

Marianna Casal said she had loved every single second of the experience, despite the results, and cannot wait for the rest of the season:

“Hearing men from the other team get surprised about what I can do was a lot of fun for me. It will be even more fun when no-one is surprised – when everyone just knows who they’re up against. I was shaking when I got on the field but after making my first play, I just reminded myself that I belong there.”

The new Herts recruits were welcomed by all their team mates. And huge credit goes to the visiting Essex Arrows too. Surprised as they might have been, witnesses at the ballpark say the Arrows offered the same respect to Casal and Vernon as to all the other players.

In a turbulent week for British baseball, these were the good memories and positive images people want to take forward. Amy Trask, who played for the Bracknell Blazers a decade ago in the NBL, said: “It’s great to see women in baseball doing amazing things, and all the support it’s getting.”

The highlight of the weekend elsewhere for Herts came at the first derby game of the year in Single A, where the Londoners were hosting the Eagles at Basing Hill. The visitors’ Alex Plehn – who joined the club last year but has never before played in a BBF league game — hit two home runs. The second of them, a 3-run homer, was key to a 6-5 victory in the second game. Rookie Tom Hill also delivered with his debut on the pitching mound before turning the game over to veteran Mike Wakelam.

The star of the first game, apart from that Plehn home run, was the fielding of Greg Bochan. The former Hawks boss was now manning the hot corner of third base for the Londoners, and made two quality plays before capping it all with a web gem, diving to his left to snare a hard hit ball before somehow making the throw across the diamond too. Londoners won this one 13-5.

The other Single A team, the Raptors, travelled to the Redbacks. Despite some strong performances, the team of mainly novices could not overcome Essex who won 15-6 and 16-8. The Hawks lost 14-8 and 10-8 in Oxford in the Double A league.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article, including Jess, Marianna, Tony Small, Amy Trask and Lee Manning.

Herts Spring League kicks off 2021 season in style

Herts Spring League kicks off 2021 season in style

Like everything else at the moment, the 2021 Herts Spring League was a bit different. It was quick as a flash. It was more knock-out blow than drawn-out battle.

The usual three weeks of competition were condensed into one weekend on the baseball diamonds of Grovehill. The impact of the pandemic had cut short the time available for pre-season.

One of the other points that made it different this year was the arrival of the first women’s team in the history of the tournament. Belles Baseball made a big noise and splash in the Single-A competition, bringing a lot of energy to the event.

The Herts Spring League provides a great opportunity for teams to finalise their preparations for the upcoming British baseball season. This year, it saw 22 teams play 21 games on 2 diamonds over 2 days. Single-A and Double-A were on Saturday, Triple-A and NBL on the Sunday.

The sun shone gloriously for both days, which we have decided must be a good omen for the season ahead. Yes, it was on the cool side but, hey, it’s the Spring.

Let’s start with the Belles, who opened their HSL account against a Herts side, the Eagles. The visiting team fell behind early on, but fought back with some patient at-bats and aggressive stealing to make it 9-5. The Eagles ran out winners, and the Belles then took on the London Mustangs. Another tight contest ended 9-7 to London.

Top slot in the league was shared by the MK Bucks 2, and the Londoners — who were undefeated. The Eagles, Raptors, Mustangs and Bracknell Inferno each took a split from their weekend. Minotaurs fought hard and scored well but couldn’t secure a W.

If the Belles Baseball were something new, the presence of the Croydon Pirates in the Double-A division was a blast from the past. The team is a revival of what was a stalwart of British baseball a few years back. They won 8-2 over Sidewinders, and then defeated London Musketeers 9-2 to claim the title. London had beaten the Hawks 10-2, and Hawks went down by the same score to Sidewinders in the third place playoff.

Sunday saw the Triple-A action first, with Essex Redbacks finally breaking open a tight contest against the London Mammoths to win 7-2. It was a game with several double plays stifling an offensive threat. All the games were tight in this division. London Marauders took the title with one-run wins over BC Vetra and the MK Bucks.

London Mets dominated the NBL tournament, putting down a marker they intend to defend their title again. They opened their account with a 3-2 win over the Essex Arrows, as the London Capitals saw off the Herts Falcons 10-2. In the second round of rubbers the Mets beat the Caps, while Falcons secured a split on their weekend with a victory over Essex.

The BBF league schedule starts this coming weekend, so the HSL gave a last chance to hone strategies and test players under game conditions. Everyone will have come out of the weekend with a greater sense of what they need to do for success.

Signs are good that the summer of 2021 will see plenty of baseball. Herts thanks all the players who came down and took part, and everyone who made it happen.

It’s game on for 2021.

Outcome of Disciplinary case

Outcome of Disciplinary Case

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed the outcome of an investigation into a complaint made about the conduct of the Falcons manager, Cris Hiche.

As set out in section 12.1 of the club’s constitution, a Disciplinary Panel was convened to consider the case. It received written submissions from the relevant parties. As detailed in the club’s complaints procedure, the Panel had a range of options to consider.

It recommended that Cris Hiche be warned as to his future conduct. Specifically, it advised that he should be more careful and measured in his language, particularly when acting as a representative of Herts baseball club in any way.

The Panel said: “The Codes of Conduct published by both Herts and the BBF demand that members “support a positive culture and climate”, and all interactions should abide by this. It is important that clubs and individuals in British baseball work together to discuss, agree and implement a way forward to grow the sport. When we do not agree, we must show respect and put forward positive arguments.

“It remains vital, though, that people within the baseball community are able to challenge and question those in authority, to ensure transparency and accountability.”

The 14-day period for any appeal has now passed.

Ballparks are starting to take shape ahead of 2021 Opening Day

Diamonds starting to take shape ahead of 2021 Opening Day

At Herts Baseball Club’s annual general meeting in January, it was reported that the club has put a more comprehensive field maintenance programme for Grovehill Ballpark in order to preserve it as one of the best baseball venues in the United Kingdom.

On 29 March Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, confirmed that outdoor activities for organised sports can resume. A few days later the first event for Herts was its annual field maintenance day. Since the end of the 2019 baseball season it has been difficult to carry out any significant work at the ballpark due to the pandemic.

The focus on Saturday, 3 April, was to remove weeds and grass which had grown into the infield clay areas. The club hired specialised machinery for this and it delivered visible improvements on both diamonds in Hemel Hempstead. A day later players from the five Herts adult teams were back for their first Spring Training session of the year and that included some field maintenance work which everyone contributed to.

Two days later the project continued with aeration and light rolling of the turf which is expected to improve the surface not only in the short run, but over the medium term as water and nutrients will be able to reach the grass roots, resulting in healthier, stronger growth and a denser grass surface.

The club’s branch in North West London is also being prepared for the new season with rolling implemented in March. Of course that venue is at a very early stage of development and the more significant upgrade of the facility will come as part of the larger Basing Hill Project which the club is currently crowdfunding for.

Crowdfunding campaign continues for Basing Hill Ballpark despite setback

Crowdfunding campaign continues for Basing Hill Ballpark despite setback

It has been a hotly anticipated few weeks as Herts Baseball Club rallied support for the Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign on Spacehive. Facing steep competition, the club hoped to be one of the projects to receive financial backing from the Mayor of London as part of the Make London Fund. Results were announced earlier this week and sadly Basing Hill Ballpark did not succeed in its pitch for mayoral funding. Despite the setback, perhaps there is some comfort in the fact that Herts Baseball Club only narrowly missed out.

The Make London Fund had two tiers: Tier 1 for projects up to £5,000 and Tier 2 for projects over £5,000. With a target of £55,804, Basing Hill Ballpark was placed in Tier 2. Of the 35 projects that were successful in their campaigns for the Mayor’s fund, around fifteen were in Tier 2. Shortly before the results were announced, Herts Baseball Club had 120 backers which ranked it 17th out of a total 98 projects.  Although the decision is not based entirely on the number of backers, it must have been very close.

And let us not forget the very worthy projects we were up against, from cookery schools supporting social integration, which received a pledge from the Duchess of Sussex, to projects tackling loneliness and homelessness. Club President, Aspi Dimitrov, congratulated all the other projects and said that, “although this is a setback, we are determined to build this baseball venue. Apart from the Mayor of London, we have pitched to several other organisations such as the London Borough of Barnet and are continuing to approach other potential backers as part of our crowdfunding campaign”.

There is no denying that missing out on the Make London Fund, with its potential to back up to 50% of the project, was a blow. But the club has not given up. Although holding considerably smaller funds, backing from the London Borough of Barnet is still a potential source of financial support, and with 53 days left to reach its crowdfunding target, Herts are doing everything they can to reach out to other organisations and potential backers.

To date, the campaign has received pledges amounting to £12,123 which is 21% of the £55,804 target. If the campaign fails to reach the target by the deadline all of the pledges will be cancelled and no payments will be taken. The club hopes it does not come to this and will continue to promote the unique and exciting project that Basing Hill Ballpark is. It is also becoming more necessary. One development which emphasises the importance of the project is this week’s launch of the club’s brand new youth baseball league. This will see boys and girls aged between 6 and 14 playing games in Basing Hill Park and at the club’s existing Grovehill Ballpark baseball complex in Hemel Hempstead.

Businesses, sponsors and other backers who may be interested to support the project can contact the club to discuss ways in which this could be a good fit and beneficial for them. They would have the additional assurance from the fact that the club passed the project viability verification process carried out by the independent organisation Locality, which was a prerequisite to pitch to the Mayor of London.