Category: Club News

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

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

We are counting down to the 2023 Hunlock Series Live Draft which will take place this Friday, 22 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 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 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 Barracudas – Duane Badenhorst
  • Blue Buzzards – Danny Preston
  • Green Cheese Cutters – Callum Ferrier
  • Big Red Machine – Nick Sanders
  • Yellow Wizards – Osvaldo Badia

Danny Preston led the Blue Buzzards to the Hunlock Series championship last year and he is back to defend the title this year.

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 Friday’s Draft. Some of them may be new to Herts fans but they are not new to the game. The Hunlock Series could give us a glimpse at some of the new players who will be wearing the Herts uniform in 2024.

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 2024.

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 Friday, 22 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 to teams 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 2023.

Entry fee

2023 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 £10. 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 £24 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.

Dan Gipple 1960-2023

In Remembrance of Dan Gipple 1960-2023

Herts Baseball Club has learned the sad news that club member Dan Gipple passed away two weeks ago.

The Gipple family joined the club in 2013 when Dan’s son Joe was ten and started playing for the Herts Under-11 team. As Joe developed as a player through the baseball age groups, Dan joined the Herts youth baseball coaching staff working alongside Mike Wakelam, Max Trautman, Jeff Witter and other youth coaches.

In 2018 Joe was old enough to start playing in the adult baseball leagues and both Dan and Joe made their senior league debuts with the Herts Raptors. Parents playing baseball side-by-side with their children is a special feeling and Dan and Joe had that opportunity to play together.

With the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark, both of them went on to play for the Herts Eagles reuniting with many of the coaches and players from their youth baseball years.

Dan wore Herts jersey number 54.

Dan with the Raptors, 2018

He has been battling with health problems for some time now. The medical procedures must have been very difficult for him but he did share with club members that baseball gave him strength through those hard times and kept him going.

The thoughts of everyone at Herts Baseball Club are with Joe and the rest of the Gipple family.

Players have started registering for the 2023 Hunlock Series

Players have started registering for the 2023 Hunlock Series

The 2023 BBF season is approaching its climax but, whether your team makes it to the Playoffs or not, arguably the best part of the season is still to come.

Every year, after the end of the BBF season and just when the MLB postseason is about to start, players from Herts and other British baseball clubs – as well as overseas players – compete over several weeks in a tournament in memory of Herts Baseball Club’s number 36, the late Kyle Hunlock.

SERIES FORMAT

This is the 17th year of the Hunlock Series. In its inaugural year in 2006 two teams were involved, the Falcons and the Hawks. The format of the competition has evolved since then. The club has over 170 registered adult players this year and a considerable number of new players are expected to register to play in the Series. As players sign up over the next few weeks we will know how many teams will enter the Series this year.

SCHEDULE

It will be played over three Sundays on 1, 8 and 15 October. This is later than in previous years due to BBF adult and youth postseason playoffs being played over all four Sundays of September. 

See last year’s Hunlock Series schedule and standings.

VENUES

Games will be played at two ballparks – Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead and Basing Hill Ballpark in London (both pictured above).

WHO CAN PLAY?

Any players aged 14 and over on 31 December 2023 are eligible to play in the Hunlock Series.

THE DRAFT

As in previous years, the teams will be selected by the team managers during the Hunlock Series Draft. Who will be the first round picks? How will Single-A league players and newcomers perform alongside NBL and Triple-A players?

Over the years we have seen how decisions made during the Draft can shape the outcome of the Series before a pitch has been thrown. The managers will have to make carefully calculated decisions if they are to put together a team which can compete for the Hunlock Series title, otherwise they face miserable few weeks.

With all of the club’s managers and coaching staff observing these games, players who have been pushing for promotion to a higher league team will have the perfect opportunity during the Hunlock Series to make a claim to play on the bigger stage in 2024.

NEW PLAYERS

The club has also received enquiries from many potential new members over the last few weeks and this event is the ideal opportunity for them to come and play and help them decide whether to join the club for the 2024 season.

HOW TO REGISTER

All Hunlock Series players will be drafted into teams. To be eligible for the Draft you will need to update your availability for ALL the Hunlock Series dates in the online Clubhouse by 7pm Monday, 18 September. If you miss the deadline or the first one or two weeks of games, don’t worry. You will still be eligible to play but will have to be assigned as a free agent after the Draft.

If you already have a Clubhouse account you can update availability for the Hunlock Series dates 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.

ENTRY FEE

2023 Herts 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 team shirt is expected to be priced at around £10. You can also exchange a team shirt if you are drafted in a different colour team.

New players or players from other clubs can play by paying the £24 entry fee which includes a free Hunlock Series shirt of the team which has drafted them.

ENQUIRIES FROM NEW PLAYERS

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

BBF Youth Super League starts this Saturday, 6 May

BBF Youth Super League starts this Saturday, 6 May

The BBF Youth Super League starts this Saturday, 6 May. It’s a new competition launched by the British Baseball Federation (BBF) this year covering the Under-15 and Under-11 age groups. It will feature teams from Herts, London Mets and LYBL.

The Youth Super League standings will determine the seeding for the National Youth Baseball Championships later in the year.

Each of the participating clubs is expected to host a game day which will adopt a round-robin game format.

BBF Youth Super League - Order of Play (Sat, 6 May)

DateHomeTime/ResultsAwayLeagueField

Herts Baseball Club will host the first round of games at Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead, this Saturday, 6 May.

Food and drinks will be on sale during the event including hot dogs, burgers, nachos and other ballpark favorites.

Players who haven’t registered to play with the Herts youth league teams this season, can still register in time to be added to the teams for the next round of Youth Super League games.

For more information, contact us.

Herts gets first ever PA announcer

Herts gets first ever PA announcer

The official National Baseball League Opening Day at Grovehill Ballpark on Saturday marked not only a big step for Herts Baseball Club’s NBL Pilot Project. It also marked the arrival of Gabriel Fidler as the club’s first ever official announcer. Best known as Chair of the British Baseball Hall of Fame and founder of Extra Innings UK, Fidler began his career as colour commentator for perennial NAIA World Series contender Lee University in the U.S.

At Lee, Fidler completed a joint B.A. in broadcasting and history, working for the university’s Sports Information Department under local legend and inductee to multiple Halls of Fame, George Starr. Among his many duties over six years with Flames Athletics, Fidler travelled around the U.S. with Lee’s baseball and basketball teams as its full-time radio broadcaster alongside Starr. He also served as the regular P.A. for the four-time national champion women’s football side, and the men’s football team, which produced two MLS draftees.

Since then, Fidler – who was raised in Suffolk before moving to the U.S. – has held roles as public address announcer for the 2018 NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional, hosted at the Cape Cod League’s Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass., and for four sports at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, including the Grand Re-Opening of its Hendy Baseball Field. He also served as a guest on numerous radio programmes and baseball podcasts in the U.K. and U.S.

At the 2019 London Series, Fidler returned to the mic alongside Chris Knoblock as the duo broadcast the London Cup, which featured multiple British Little League squads playing in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Stadium. As part of his role with BaseballSoftballUK, he also coordinated London Series’ legacy events, including media coordination for the Elite Tournament at Farnham Park, a press conference with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and USA Baseball’s Rick Riccobono to announce the launch of Fun At Bat in East London schools, and various other activities.

‘We want to make NBL game days an amazing experience for fans, and this is a brilliant new addition for the club,’ noted Herts President Aspi Dimitrov. ‘Gabriel has long had contacts with Herts, and we are excited that he is taking on this role.’

Fidler has a connection to Herts Baseball, as he co-founded Durham University’s baseball team in 2016 with Will Zucker, then a rising prospect for Herts and Under-15 selection for Great Britain. Zucker, of course, is now Herts’ Co-Director of Youth Baseball and has since suited up for the GB U23 squad. Under their leadership, Durham played in three countries in its first season, sent two squads to the 2016 Spring National University Baseball Championship (NUBC), and claimed the 2016 Autumn and 2018 Spring NUBC titles with its first team.

‘I am thrilled to join Herts as public address announcer in time for Opening Day and the launch of its ambitious NBL Pilot Project,’ remarked Fidler. ‘I first became aware of Herts through Will and am fortunate to count Aspi as a friend now as well. With the return of MLB clubs to Britain for this year’s London Series and the success of Great Britain Baseball at the WBC, enthusiasm for baseball in the U.K. is at an all-time high. As the sport develops further in Britain, Herts is positioned to take a leading role and I look forward to playing a small part in its endeavours.’

As a credentialled journalist, Fidler has also reported live from numerous top baseball events, including the 2016 MLB Battlegrounds in Hyde Park, the 2017 World Baseball Classic and its Brooklyn Qualifier [pictured above with Great Britain Coach Trevor Hoffman, a U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame member], the 2018 Under-23 World Cup, and the 2020 Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifiers for both baseball and softball. In fact, he has not long returned from on-the-ground coverage of the 2023 WBC, where he witnessed the game-by-game build-up to the electrifying final showdown between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.

The official Opening Day of the 2023 National Baseball League season for the Herts Falcons saw the club host the London Mets, six-time consecutive national champions. The doubleheader was the first event of the club’s new Pilot Project and featured some of the fun and festivities of Opening Day to which baseball fans everywhere look forward. Fans can purchase tickets for all home games on hertsbaseball.com.

Herts Baseball Club looking for volunteers and paid coaches to host MLB First Pitch school baseball event in Hemel Hempstead

Herts Baseball Club looking for volunteers and paid coaches to host MLB First Pitch school baseball event in Hemel Hempstead

As part of Major League Baseball’s investment in the UK and the London Series, a pilot programme in association with the Youth Sport Trust was introduced where a hub of around 15 schools is created in a number of regions to run the MLB First Pitch programme. One of these hubs is in Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding area. 

The programme culminates with an end-of-school-year baseball event bringing all the schools from the hub together.  Herts Baseball Club was approached to host the end of year baseball festival scheduled for the summer of 2021, however that event could not take place due to Covid restrictions in schools.

Grovehill Ballpark has previously hosted baseball and softball events as part of the Herts School Games

Steps are being taken now to stage this event this summer on Tuesday, July 4, at Grovehill Ballpark, the home of Herts Baseball Club in Hemel Hempstead. The event is likely to feature a skills session from 9:30 to 12:00 and games from 12:30 to 14:45. It is expected to cover students aged 9 to 11 – school years 5 and 6.

The club is inviting Herts club members or players and coaches from other clubs who would be interested and available to act as event staff volunteers and as paid coaches on that day. The fee for the coaches will range between £12.50 and £23.75, depending on the role and the level of the coach.  For more details and to express interest contact us.

Herts Falcons go back to their roots as they unveil new logo

Herts Falcons go back to their roots as they unveil new logo

To mark the return of the Herts Falcons to the National Baseball League (NBL) this year, the team is unveiling its new logo which incorporates features from the club’s early years in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Herts Baseball Club was founded in 1996. At that time the official club name in its constitution was Falcons Baseball Club. The team’s name was the Bushey Falcons as the team’s home field was located in Bushey, Hertfordshire, near Watford.

In their first year they played a series of friendly games to prepare for entry into the BBF leagues in 1997.  Their ignominious start was a crushing 51 – 6 loss against the Old Timers on 17th July 1996. It was not until 3rd November 1996 that they recorded their first ever victory, winning 4 – 9 against the Southend Piers.

In their first league season, they played in the BBF Southern Conference Division Three.

From the photo archives we can see that, in the years between 1996 and 2000, the official uniform was a white pinstriped jersey with what appear to be the letters “B” and “F” on one side of the chest. They wore black baseball pants and a navy blue baseball cap with a red logo which is difficult to see the details of in photos available to us. Perhaps there are club members who still have that cap and jersey and can send us a photo.

In 2000 the team introduced a new jersey.  It was still white with black pinstripes but this time it had the team name “Falcons” in red letters across the chest written in a classic baseball script font and a tail under it. It is this insignia which the team has now adopted as its logo – an opportunity to celebrate its history. The baseball cap worn at the time was black with a red letter “F” on the front.

At its Annual General Meeting at the end of 2001, members decided to change the club’s name under its constitution to Herts Baseball Club and since then the team has competed in the BBF leagues under the name Herts Falcons.

As the number of players increased, the club decided to form additional teams. Its second team was launched in 2005, initially adopting the name Herts Falcons 2. As more teams were added, it was decided to give them their own names and so the Herts Hawks, Herts Raptors and Herts Eagles were born.

In 2008 the club unveiled a new uniform.  Gone were the black pants and pinstripes and in their place was an all white uniform with black piping and the name “Herts” in red across the chest. The logo on the baseball cap also changed from the letter “F” to the letter “H”. This will be the sixteenth season that Herts teams wear this uniform and this year there is a record number of seven Herts teams in the BBF leagues.

With their new logo, the Herts Falcons will be making their return to the NBL when the league starts next month. It’s a pivotal season for the Falcons for many reasons. The team needs to find a way to compete and re-establish its position in Britain’s top league. The club, as a whole, is also making a big push with its NBL Pilot Project to see if British baseball is ready to start bringing fans to the ballparks. The NBL Opening Day is on April 16 when the Falcons travel to the Sheffield Bruins.

Reece Crawley appointed as Herts Eagles manager

Reece Crawley appointed as Herts Eagles manager

The Herts Eagles have confirmed that Reece Crawley is the team’s new manager.

The 41-year-old Londoner joined Herts last month having played at the London Mets organisation over the last few years. Like most British players, his interest in baseball came about after watching MLB games on TV. This prompted him and his friend to go and watch a British baseball game in Enfield and that was enough to convince him to start playing.

That first British baseball game which he saw was a Triple-A league game which apparently featured many of the players on the Herts Cardinals roster so Reece had the opportunity to reconnect with those players when he reported for Spring Training at Basing Hill Ballpark a few weeks ago.

His primary position is catcher. He also plays other infield positions. He now has to combine playing with managing and he is looking forward to that challenge.

These may be new surroundings for Reece but he will be able to count on the support of highly experienced players like Matt Jackson and Jamie Lang-Richards, who have previously managed the Herts Raptors and the Herts Eagles, respectively.

Upcoming HSL games for the Eagles

DateHomeTime/ResultsAwayLeagueField
HSL (Single-A)
Grovehill D2
HSL (Single-A)
Grovehill D2
HSL (Single-A)
Grovehill D2

The team has five weeks of Spring Training remaining including three games in the Herts Spring League against the Richmond Dukes, Formosa Islanders and the MK Bucks.

Last year the Eagles finished the season with a 7-18 record (.280 winning percentage). Can the team move up in the league standings this year?

2023 Herts Baseball Fan Survey – chance to win tickets

2023 Herts Baseball Fan Survey – chance to win tickets

During the 2023 NBL season Herts Baseball Club will be running a pilot project to grow its fan base and bring supporters to the ballpark. Spectators will be able to enjoy a special game day experience supporting the Herts Falcons in the NBL – Britain’s top baseball league.

To help the club plan and deliver the best possible game day product, we are inviting those who may be considering coming to a Herts Falcons home NBL game to complete the 2023 Herts Baseball Fan Survey.

Everyone completing the survey will automatically be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win tickets to a Herts Falcons home game. Ten winners will each receive two tickets to a Herts Falcons NBL regular season home game.

Grovehill Ballpark to introduce ticketing for 2023 NBL home games

Grovehill Ballpark to introduce ticketing for 2023 NBL home games

Herts Baseball Club has released initial details of the reconfiguration of Grovehill Ballpark for Herts Falcons National Baseball League (NBL) home games this season.

In December Herts launched its NBL Pilot Project which aims to take the club and the sport to the next level. The new business model is designed to grow the fan base, attract spectators to its National Baseball League (NBL) games, generate revenue and build a highly competitive team by offering financial rewards to coaches and players.

As part of that project, Grovehill Ballpark will look very different as it prepares to welcome ticket-buying spectators for the first time in the club’s 27-year history.

Capacity

The image above shows the ballpark layout and seat map with a capacity for 196 spectators which can be increased to 499 for high profile games such as the postseason playoffs.

Ticket types

40 of the tickets will come with seats. The other 156 will be lower-priced tickets for fans who would like to bring their own seats or who would prefer to stand. If demand for tickets with seats is high, there is flexibility to add more. There is a limited number of premium seats which are located behind home plate and they will give those fans an up-close view of the pitcher-versus-batter duel.  If demand for premium tickets is high, the club can look to add more in future seasons.

Example of a ballpark offering bring-your-own-seat tickets.

Home and away fans – game day atmosphere

Unlike MLB ballparks, Herts will adopt the British tradition of providing a separate sector for away fans. This is expected to enhance the atmosphere, especially when facing direct rivals, as both sets of fans would not want their rivals to have stronger support.

Home fans will occupy the blocks on the third base side of the ballpark while away fans will be on the first base side. The reason for this is that the third base side can accommodate more fans. Some home blocks have a partially restricted  view of the left field foul pole area due to trees, but this is not likely to have a major negative effect for those spectators.

Since the opening of the diamond in 2010, home teams have usually been in the dugout on the first base side which means the Herts Falcons will have to get used to being in the third base dugout.

View of the infield from the home fans sector

One advantage which Grovehill Ballpark has over MLB stadiums is that it is not expected to sell 40,000 tickets so there will be ample space in the spectator areas. With this in mind there will be more leg room and around 30cm of space between each seat for greater comfort but not much more than that as keeping fans closer together is likely to create a more vibrant atmosphere, more social interaction and the feeling of being part of a community of fans supporting the team. The same approach will be adopted for the away sector.

Food and Beverage

Food and beverage will play an important part in the game day experience. If the project produces good results in 2023, the club is aiming to put the required facilities in place to be able to offer a unique menu and not just the food we have become accustomed to at sports and entertainment venues.

The club is also looking into adding a gathering area with tables for greater social interaction while having a drink and a snack during the game.

Game Day Entertainment

The game will always be the main event of the day, but there will be so much more to look forward to before, during and after the game. The club will publish more details of this closer to Opening Day.

Activities for Kids

Boys and girls coming to the ballpark will want to get involved in  playing baseball. Over the course of the season some of the game days will be themed specifically for children and they can look forward to activities such as batting, pitching, fielding, base running practice and contests. A special PlayBall diamond will be set up for those events. Full details will be published prior to those game days.

The club hopes that this element of the NBL Pilot Project will introduce more children to the game of baseball and will see them join the Herts Youth Baseball League teams and, in a few years time, we hope to see those young Herts baseball fans put on the Herts Falcons jersey and play in the NBL.

Other ballpark facilities

On game days, fans can also look forward to Herts merchandise such as baseball caps, t-shirts and hoodies.

The club is currently in discussions with Dacorum Borough Council working towards improving and increasing the capacity of toilet and washing facilities at the ballpark. Providing clean and tidy amenities is a top priority for the club.

The NBL Pilot Project is a year-long experiment therefore many of the installations will be pop-up and temporary in nature.  This includes the barrier fence along the boundary of the spectator areas. There is a slight risk of members of the public jumping over the fence but this will be monitored by event staff and ticket-holders will be given a wrist band – different colour from one game to the next – to ensure that those without tickets can be identified easily and escorted out of the spectator area.

Stay tuned

We have only two months until the launch of the 2023 NBL season. Season ticket sales are coming up shortly and there will be a lot more information in the coming weeks. Follow the club on social media and on hertsbaseball.com for all the latest news.