Category: Club News

Herts Baseball Club Takes A Swing At Motor Neurone Disease

Herts Baseball Club Takes A Swing At Motor Neurone Disease

 On Sunday June 2nd, Herts Baseball Club will be transforming Grovehill ballpark in Hemel Hempstead into a hub of solidarity and support in the global fight against Motor Neurone Disease (MND), often referred to as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’.

This full day of activities, revolving around baseball, will allow individuals of all ages and skill levels to come together in support of MND research and awareness.

From thrilling baseball games to beginner-friendly batting and pitching sessions, a bake sale, barbecue, and the iconic Ice Bucket Challenge, there’s something for everyone at this event.

A charity raffle will include great prizes which have been generously donated — MLB Europe has provided some excellent London Series merch; there is time in the batting cages at The 108 London; and a sweet Louisville Slugger bat from Baseball Outlet.

June 2nd holds special significance in the baseball community as Lou Gehrig Day, honouring the legacy of the former New York Yankees star player whose life was tragically cut short by ALS, a form of MND. By commemorating this day, Herts Baseball Club aims to channel the spirit of solidarity and determination to make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by the condition.

The London Series has raised the profile of baseball

Pete Hogg, Herts baseball player and event organiser from St Albans, shares: “Motor Neurone Disease is a devastating condition that can affect anyone, quickly robbing them of their ability to move, speak, and even breathe on their own. Through Lou Gehrig Day, the baseball community can play a vital role in funding medical research and supporting those living with the condition”.

“At Herts Baseball Club, we aim to play our part and inspire other British and international baseball teams, players, and fans to unite in the global fight against ALS and other forms of Motor Neurone Disease. We invite anyone curious about the sport, willing to support the cause, or just looking for a fun day out, to come down to Grovehill Ballpark and join us for a day of summer fun.”

Will the bake sale include tasty treats like this?

As baseball continues to gain momentum in the UK, events like this fundraiser contribute not only to MND research but also to the growing community of baseball enthusiasts.

There has been increased television and online coverage, boosted by the successes of Team GB, and landmark events like the regular London Series. This year, it brings the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies together at the London Stadium. The sport is capturing the hearts and minds of people across the country.

Herts Baseball Club has five teams that play in the British adult baseball leagues and one of the largest youth baseball programmes in the UK. 

Club President, Michael Cresswell, commented: “We invite the residents of Hertfordshire and beyond to join us in spreading the word about this important event. Whether you attend, donate online, or volunteer your time and resources, your contribution will make a meaningful impact in the fight against Motor Neurone Disease.”

More details to follow, with precise timings.

Please visit our fundraising page at Lou Gehrig Day 2024 at Herts Baseball Club | givestar (NB. donations are very welcome, but do not constitute a purchase of anything unless explicitly agreed in advance)

Cresswell takes over as President

Cresswell takes over as President

Herts Baseball Club is delighted to announce the appointment of long-time player, coach and cheerleader Mike Cresswell as our new President.

He adds a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the Executive Board as the club moves into 2024 and beyond.

Mike Cresswell in action

Mike joined Herts as an 18 year old equipped with, as he puts it, “a plastic glove and a keen interest in the sport”. In the years since, he has developed not only as a baseball player but as a crucial figure in the club.

He played for the Raptors in Single-A, moving onto become their co-manager. In that role, he helped lead them to a famous playoff victory over the defending champions Tonbridge in 2016. Mike moved on to Double-A with the Hawks, Triple-A with the Londoners and then — inevitably — the Falcons of the NBL. In 2024, he’s a Cardinal.

But his contributions have gone way beyond that. Mike has run midweek training sessions at Grovehill for some time now, helping to bring on new recruits and get them ready for competitive baseball. And he has always been there to cheer on other Herts teams at every opportunity.

Applying for the vacant President’s role, Mike Cresswell offered passion, loyalty, and ideas for the way forward. The hope is to lay the foundations for a women’s baseball team, and to build from the ground up with teams full of good chemistry.

The new Herts President said: “This is a club that I hold very close to my heart. To give back, to not only Herts but the baseball community as a whole, is an opportunity that I welcome with both arms.”

“I look forward to this role, and watching Herts grow and build as part of the British Baseball landscape.”

A safe pair of hands

The Herts adults teams are in action for the first time this weekend in the BBF leagues. The Ducks go first, travelling to Norwich on Saturday. Everyone else follows on the Sunday.

The youth players are at Farnham Park on Saturday to take part in the first BBF Super League event of 2024.

Going under cover

Going under cover

The phrases “if you build it” and “people will come” have a magic resonance in the world of baseball.

And so they must have drifted through the minds of two Herts baseball club veterans when they saw their vision of an indoor baseball and softball venue open at Brent Cross this past week. The 108 London is a first in the UK, and the biggest such centre in Europe.

Its creators, Mike Wakelam and Max Trautman, have been part of Herts for more years than we’d like to say. Their wisdom and enthusiasm – not to mention a little bit of skill – have left a lasting mark on the club. Together they oversaw the youth programme for a long time. Rifle through our photo archive on Flickr and they feature often.

Mike and Max overseeing a youth session in 2017

Now they have made a mark on the wider world of British baseball. The 108 is a purpose-built indoor venue with a neat, full-size infield. It had its gala opening this past week, with the backing of MLB, Barnet Council, and the developers of the Brent Cross Town project.

There are batting cages with computer technology which allows you to check your progress in detail. There are bullpens for pitchers and catchers to hone their craft. And there is a bar and barbecue, with games on TV screens.

Herts players have already been taking advantage of the facilities, with regular training sessions on a Thursday evening. Members of the Herts Cardinals, Herts Ravens — as well as the Herts Raptors who are based in Hemel Hempstead – are among those who have been there to work out.

Baseball Softball UK (BSUK), the development agency for the sports, has already made extensive use of the manicured indoor green fields. In England in January, going under cover is the best way to play. They hosted a two-day clinic for coaches this weekend, with World Series winner and current Miami Marlins coach Jon Jay among those sharing their expertise. And yes, Herts coaches were there.

Mike Wakelam told the BBC why he wanted to create the space: “I’ve been passionate about baseball and softball since I was a child, and I wanted somewhere people could enjoy the game and help it grow. The barbecue and bar is part of that, because you want the game to grow socially, and let people have a hit and have a drink with friends!”

Pic courtesy Barnet council

MLB Europe described the barbecue offerings at The 108 as “mouth-watering”. Batflips and Nerds, the premier British baseball podcast and website, called the whole facility “absolutely incredible”. Barnet’s council member for sports, Ammar Naqvi, said it provided an exciting, fun place for local residents to meet and new ways for people to get active.

Herts — which has its Basing Hill field close by – very much shares the aim of growing the game of baseball wherever we can.

Players are continuing sessions at The 108 in the coming weeks, and do get in touch with us if you want to know more. We are hopeful that the club can organise training there, too, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, a number of indoor sessions have been arranged at other venues:

Youth: Saturday 17th February and 9th March, 1-3pm, JFK Catholic School, Hemel Hempstead

Adults: Sunday 18th February and 10th March, 12-2pm, JFK Catholic School, Hemel Hempstead

Adults: Sunday 4th February, 12-2pm, Ark Elvin Academy, Wembley

We look forward to seeing you all soon to play baseball (under cover, it’s cold outside!). And before you know it the sunshine and the season will be here.

2023 Season Review

2023 Season Review

The following article was featured in Herts Baseball Club’s 2023 Annual Report distributed to club members ahead of its annual general meeting held on 26 November 2023.


It has been another record year for our club growing by 16% and we now have 248 adult and youth members. This has enabled us to have one or more teams at each of the four adult league tiers and in all four youth league age divisions. Substantial investment has gone into upgrading both ballparks and facilities and we are in a strong position to go further in the coming years after adding new revenue streams which increase our healthy cash reserves. MLB and other strategic partners have recognised us as an organisation they can work with and we hosted two MLB events – one in Hemel Hempstead and one in London. There are exciting opportunities on the horizon.

This would not be possible without the hard work, care and dedication of board and non-board staff, and the wider membership. We have been receiving very positive feedback from club members, parents and fans and I would like to join them in thanking you, the members, for your incredible contribution.

Adult Baseball

In 2022 we saw the unusual scenario of having one team in the Triple-A League and our other four teams all in Single-A. This year, the number of teams increased from five to seven and the allocation of teams was more balanced – one team in the NBL, one in Triple-A, two in Double-A and three in Single-A. From previous years we know that moving up the leagues is not an easy step to take. It became even more difficult when, after submitting the league entries in January, the Hawks lost five or six players from their strong 2022 roster and a similar number of new experienced players who were expected to strengthen the Ducks, withdrew their club registration shortly after registering due to change of circumstances. That had a significant effect on the competitiveness of those two teams in Double-A.

photo by Henry Bell

Despite this being an expansion season, the Cardinals, Raptors and Ravens achieved a considerable improvement with a combined record of 42 wins and 30 losses (.583) compared to 29 wins and 49 losses (.372) in 2022.

photo by Tony Small

Cardinals and Ravens qualified for the Triple-A and Single-A postseason, respectively, reaching the semi-final stage which is an outstanding feat.

Falcons and the NBL Pilot Project

After a one year absence, the Herts Falcons were back in Britain’s top league. In addition to the return of a number of former Falcons players, we saw a large number of talented young players with international experience with the various Great Britain national teams.

There were games when the team showed that they can compete against the best NBL teams, but at the end we have to give credit to our opponents and accept that the Falcons did not do enough to stay in the playoff race.

But there is no doubt about the enormous potential of this group of young players not only to close the gap on the leading NBL teams but to overtake them in the coming years.

There was a recognition of this when Falcons third baseman, Jack Warrington, was selected as the only British player among the top 90 young European prospects to take part in the MLB Development Tournament during the MLB London Series in front of the MLB scouts.

The return of the Falcons to the NBL was in conjunction with the club’s Pilot Project which had the aim to increase the number of fans and provide a more immersive game day experience.

Despite operating on a limited budget, we sold a total of 284 tickets for the four NBL home games. The total included a number of complimentary tickets given to local primary schools and an organisation which supports people in Dacorum facing homelessness or social exclusion.

The department made a small profit. It would have been interesting to see what the results would have been if the team’s win-loss percentage was higher and had avoided some of the blow-out losses.

The project achieved most of the goals which were set, including:

  • Falcons’ return to the NBL
  • Grow the club’s fan base
  • Increase attendances at home NBL games
  • Increase publicity and media coverage
  • Raise the club’s profile
  • Inspire more children and adults to play baseball and join Herts

Youth Baseball

The Herts youth baseball programme grew again this year setting another record high.

photo by Richard Williams

The club was represented in all four age brackets of the national youth baseball championships picking up a silver at U19 level and two bronze medals for the U16s and U11s.

There is still a gap between our youth teams and the leading youth programme, but that gap is getting smaller every year.

photo by Marcus Grant

The coaching staff deserve a lot of praise for raising the standard further and providing more playing opportunities, some of which were added extras on top of the membership packages.

Coach Lee Manning once again ran the midweek youth baseball sessions in Hemel Hempstead and coach Stephen Wong added ten summer holiday sessions and four April half-term sessions. The Basing Hill branch also added twelve midweek evening sessions to the calendar.

U13 players also had the opportunity to work with coach Monte Brooks from The Master’s University, California who have seen a number of their players play in MLB.

Like any organisation, there will be hurdles that we need to overcome. This year, a large number of U11 players in Hemel Hempstead made the transition to U13 leaving a lower number of players in that U11 group. That made it difficult for U11 coaches to run regular season games. Although the size of our programme is at a record high, we are still slightly short of the level needed to run local league play in every age group on our own. Disproportionate fluctuations in numbers from one year to the next can leave one or more age groups vulnerable so we need to keep pushing for growth to reach the scale which will ensure stable regular season game schedule.

This year it was very satisfying to see the work of the youth baseball staff in the previous three years show results with many Herts youth players starting their transition to adult league baseball with the Hawks and in the Hunlock Series.

photo by Richard Williams

I must give a special mention to the parents. They see that the club is looking to build something special and provide children with lifelong memories and they have become very involved supporting all aspects on and off the field, from coaching and umpiring to concessions and field maintenance.

Financials

The club continues to be in a healthy financial position.  We were able to avoid any major increases in membership fees this year. However, we are operating in difficult economic conditions with high inflation.  We need to do our best to keep baseball affordable while continuing our prudent management of the club’s finances. There will be some cost pressures which we will not be able to avoid and club members also will have to adapt to the new membership fee structure which the BBF is about to announce for 2024.

Ballparks

In 2022 the club was awarded £2,851 match-funding from the BSUK Facilities Fund to be invested in improvements at Grovehill Ballpark with a total cost of £5,851.  The first stage of the work involving the installation of mound clay blocks for both pitching mounds at Grovehill was completed in 2022.  The main part of the project involved verti-draining, overseeding, top dressing and other procedures to improve the playing surface on both diamonds. It was scheduled for Spring 2023. 

Our contractors struggled to time the project due to heavy flooding in the Spring followed by a very dry spell which made the ground too hard for the spikes to penetrate the soil. As a result, it was implemented in September 2023 and grooves of newly grown grass could be seen during the Hunlock Series games in October (see photo above). 

We had wonderful support from Dacorum Borough Council who assigned two additional rooms to us.

They also re-painted all our rooms and installed new female and male toilets and washing facilities.

The club also acquired a new paint-based line-marking machine for Grovehill.

We completed the second phase of the Basing Hill Ballpark project with the installation of the infield perimeter fence.

photo by Rob Jones

Thanks to the Brent Cross Town Community Fund £2,632 award we were able to fund the purchase of a baseball pitching machine for Basing Hill which means that now both ballparks have one.

It is important that we increase awareness about ballpark and facilities operational and maintenance procedures and train the designated team supervisors so that we can ensure that our ballparks are kept at the highest standard year after year.

Media and IT

Our media operations continue to be among the best in British baseball, with the club and its members featured by various media organisations and publications.

The number of followers of our various media channels continues to grow at a good rate.

We saw an increase in quality and volume of video content on our YouTube channel which members and other followers enjoyed this year.

As always, our IT Director, Greg Bochan, was hard at work keeping the club’s IT infrastructure running, integrating all of its separate components to work smoothly with each other and enabling us to do things which would be impossible without this technology.

Events

photo by Rob Jones

Our club’s reputation for having some of the best ballparks in the UK and being able to host high profile events is paying off as we had the honour of hosting two MLB events around the MLB London Series. The first was the MLBPAA Youth Clinic featuring World Series winners, David Eckstein and Jake Arrieta, running a clinic with 60 kids from British baseball clubs around the UK.

The second was the MLB First Pitch event at Grovehill for around 200 pupils from local primary schools.

There was no Herts Futures Tournament in 2020 and 2021 but it is starting to regain momentum with the number of teams increasing from eight in 2022 to twelve this year.

The season would not be complete without the Hunlock Series. It also gave us an opportunity for all our adult teams to remember club member Dan Gipple who passed away this year.

British Baseball

Momentum is continuing to gather for baseball in the UK. The Great Britain National Team overcame the odds at the World Baseball Classic and secured a place in the next edition in 2026 without having to go through the qualifying stage.  

British coach Liam Carroll was appointed as the manager of the Boston Red Sox’s Single-A affiliate.

The MLB London Series was back. In 2024 we will welcome the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

2024

I expect to have a number of personal commitments coming up as we go into 2024. Although I will still be able to perform office-based roles such as Treasurer and Secretary, this will affect my ability to cover some of my other roles such as events and facilities manager.  I am also mindful of the fact that I have been a board member of the club since 2004 and it may be appropriate for club members and the board to have the opportunity, periodically, to consider whether they wish to appoint different persons in the roles which I am covering at present. The last time I stepped down from my roles was in 2015 and perhaps now is a good time to do that again.

If no candidates are appointed at the upcoming AGM and if the board decides not to co-opt others to these roles, I would be very happy to be co-opted again to roles which I am able to perform in 2024, if the board decides that this is in the club’s best interest. Whatever the decision of club members and the board, I will of course be very keen to ensure the best possible transition and hand-over of roles which are assigned to others in 2024.

We have grown from having one adult team with 19 members playing on one diamond in 2004 to an organisation with around 250 adult and youth players today and three diamonds – two in Hemel Hempstead and one in NW London.

These are exciting times for our club and its members and there is enormous potential and opportunities to continue growing and developing the club as we strive to get to the next level. 

Aspi Dimitrov

President

Dennis Grogan (1971-2023)

Dennis Grogan (1971-2023)

Our club is very sad to hear the news that former Herts Falcons player, Dennis Grogan, has passed away.

He spent only one season with Herts but it didn’t take him long to become an integral member of the club and he had the respect of everyone. He contributed on and off the field but what we will miss most is his friendship and company.

The thoughts of everyone at Herts Baseball Club are with his family.

2023 MVP vote results are in

2023 MVP vote results are in

The Most Valuable Players (MVP) of the seven Herts adult league 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.

Herts Falcons (NBL)

The 2023 Herts Falcons MVP is player-manager, Cris Hiche. With a batting average of .397, slugging average of .638 and 3 home runs, Hiche was a consistent contributor to the team’s offence. Defensively, he produced a series of web gems including a Play of the Year candidate in the game away at the Capitals which was streamed live (see video above).

(photo by Tony Small)

Herts Cardinals (Triple-A)

For a second consecutive year, the Herts Cardinals chose Tyler Cote as the team’s Most Valuable Player. He was the team’s “go-to” pitcher including in the Playoff Semi-Final. He had the team’s best ERA (.366) and led the pitching staff in strikeouts (36) and wins (3) tied with three other pitchers. Offensively, he led in RBIs (21), stolen bases (18) and had the third best batting average (.400).

photo by Will Baxter

Herts Hawks (Double-A)

Harry McMenamin is the Herts Hawks MVP. This was his third season playing in the BBF senior leagues and he has been voted as the Hawks MVP in each of these three seasons.  His batting average was .552, slugging average was .845 which is almost identical to his numbers last year, despite the fact that his team is playing in a higher league tier this season. His contribution was in all aspects of the game, as a pitcher, with the glove in the infield and with his speed, stealing 27 bases.

photo by Rob Jones

Herts Ducks (Double-A)

The Herts Ducks MVP is Taysir Barakat. His teammates recognised his contribution on and off the field in a diffiuclt first season for the Ducks in the Double-A League when the team needed a lot of lifting. He had a batting average of .349, led in stolen bases (14) and his team relied on his pitching with the most innnings pitched (24).

photo by Tony Small

Herts Ravens (Single-A)

Zak Beller won the MVP vote among the Herts Ravens. He was a key player in a very successful season for the team going all the way to the Playoff semi-final. He led the team in home runs (4) and RBIs (40), was third in batting average (.686) and stolen bases (38). We should mention that pitcher and infielder Nic Goetz was a close second in the MVP vote. He had another exceptional season with an ERA of 2.45, 8 wins , no losses and 61 strikeouts. He also led the team with a .778 batting average.

Herts Raptors (Single-A)

Among the seven Herts senior league teams, the Herts Raptors recorded the biggest improvement in their winning average from .038 in 2022 to .348 this season. The players determined that pitcher Lee Dunn played a vital part in this and voted him as the Raptors 2023 MVP. He had the best ERA and the lowest opponent batting average. He also led the team with 3 home runs. This is only his first season with the club so we look forard to seeing what 2024 will bring for him and the Raptors.

Herts Eagles (Single-A)

The Herts Eagles MVP is George Llewelyn Thomas. He may not have been at the top of the offensive and defensive categories, but the fact that his teammates voted for him speaks volumes about the role he played in the team, bringing everyone together and leading by example. The team made enormous progress over the course of the season and they are already preparing for 2024.

Apart from being 2023 Ravens MVP, Zak Beller also won the Play of the Year with his 3 home runs in a game. Close behind him in the vote were Lee Dunn for his 2-home-run-game and Ben Sporleder for his fearless catch in centerfield smashing into the outfield wall.

There was a tie in the Nob-Out Award category between Tyler Cote and Lewis Auchterlounie for the most spectacular mishap of the season. Tyler Cote caused a delay in the start of the game away at Bristol when he lost his wedding rind requiring an urgent search party where both the home and away players had to comb the field on their knees. The ring was found successfully.

Lewis Auchterlounie shares the Nob-Out Award with Tyler Cote. He was one of the fans who came down to watch the Herts Falcons NBL game and decided to enter the 200m fan race during the 5th inning stretch. The prize for the winner was a hot dog so there was a lot on the line. One furlong into the race Lewis went down after pulling a hamstring.

With 2023 award-winners confirmed, attention is turning to preparations for the 2024 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?

Herts publishes AGM details

Herts publishes AGM details

AGM NOTICE

In accordance with the Club’s Constitution, this is a notice of the upcoming 27th Annual General Meeting of Herts Baseball Club.  The AGM will take place as follows:
 
DATE
Sunday, 26 November 2023

TIME
10:30am (AGM expected to end at around 12:30pm-1:00pm)

VENUE
This year’s AGM will be held online via Zoom. Club members will receive an email with details how to join the Zoom call.

JUNIOR MEMBERS
Under the Club’s Constitution, members under the age of 14 on 31 December 2023 are classified as Junior Members and do not have voting rights at General Meetings. Regardless of this, if you are under the age of 14, you and your parents are very much invited to attend the AGM, especially as so many of the parents of our youth members are involved as players, coaches, volunteers and members of staff.
 
POTENTIAL NEW MEMBERS
Although only 2023 club members have the right to vote at this AGM, the meeting is very much open to potential new members who are considering joining the club in 2024.  This is a good opportunity for new players, volunteers and members of staff to learn more about the club and meet its members.  If you fall into this category and wish to attend the AGM, please contact the club.
 
OBSERVERS
The meeting is also open to relevant observers who are not members of the Club. If you fall into this category and wish to attend the AGM please contact the club.
 
AGM PACK
Ahead of the meeting, the AGM Information Pack will be sent out to 2023 members. It will include information such as the AGM agenda, 2023 annual report, election details and more. 
 
ELECTION OF 2024 BOARD MEMBERS
In accordance with the Constitution, a number of Board positions will be up for election at the upcoming AGM either as part of the annual retirement of one-third of the Board positions or because they are vacant.
 
The club is now inviting nominations for the following board positions:  
BOARD POSITIONS (appointment term in brackets)

  • President (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Treasurer (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Secretary (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Communications Director (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • IT Director (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Facilities Manager – Grovehill (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Facilities Manager – Basing Hill (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Manager (Double-A)2 Ducks (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Raptors (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Manager (Single-A)2 Eagles (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Director of Youth Baseball (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Head of U15-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of U13-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2026)
  • Head of U11-Hemel (term ends 31.10.2025)
  • Head of U15-London (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of U13-London (term ends 31.10.2024)
  • Head of U11-London (term ends 31.10.2026
  • Head of Softball (term ends 31.10.2026)

Notes:

2 The leagues which Herts teams will enter in 2024 will not be known until after the AGM. The Club may also decide to add or remove teams from the BBF leagues depending on the number of players registering for 2024. If the club enters fewer teams than expected, one or more of these board positions may be removed after the AGM.
 
Current Board members are eligible to stand for re-election. All members are invited to consider any of the Board positions and put their names forward for one or several of them. 
 
Being a board Member is an excellent opportunity to be involved in shaping the future of Herts Baseball Club. If you are considering applying for any of the positions, but are unsure about it, you can get in touch with current or past board members who can give you more information about what the role involves and what to expect, if elected. If you require more information about any of the above board positions please contact the club.
 
HOW TO CONFIRM YOUR CANDIDACY
If you decide to run for any of these board positions please confirm your candidacy by posting a message in the Herts Baseball Online Forum. If you have difficulties accessing the forum with your username and password please contact the club.
 
NOMINATION PROCESS
The Secretary may receive nominations for officers not less than 3 (three) days before the date of the meeting. Nominations shall require two votes (nominated and seconded). Nominations can only be accepted from persons eligible to vote at the AGM. To nominate or to second a candidate, post in the Herts Baseball online Forum.

CANDIDATE’S STATEMENT

It is not compulsory and over the years we have not insisted that board candidates provide a candidate’s statement but, if you are running for election and would like to provide a candidate’s statement with no more than 500 words, please submit it to the club by 22:00 Wednesday, 22 November 2023, and it will be added to the AGM Pack.
 
BOARD AND STAFF MEMBER REBATE
Ahead of the Board elections, a reminder that, in consideration of the time and effort which Board members give in performing their Board roles and which effectively means that they are unable to enjoy the full benefit of their membership, they will be entitled to a membership fee rebate. The Board reviews the rebate system from time to time. Here is an example of how it is likely to be applied during the upcoming season:

  •  members of the Board are expected to be entitled to a rebate of around 50% or more of the respective membership fee payable by them during the year. 
  • if one Board role is held by two or more individuals, such individuals can share the rebate between them as the burden of performing the role is shared between them.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
In accordance with article 14.3 of the Club’s Constitution “Additions to, or alterations of the constitution shall be submitted to the Secretary not less than 10 (ten) days before the date of the meeting. No resolution involving an amendment to the constitution may be proposed or amended from the floor of a meeting.” If any members wish to propose a constitutional amendment please send it by contacting the club by 23:59 on 16 November 2023, at the latest. You can find a copy of the Constitution on the club’s website (click to view).

Herts Baseball Club celebrate the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark

Herts Baseball Club celebrate the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark

The Basing Hill Ballpark project was completed on June 20th but, with a busy schedule of league games and events, it wasn’t until last Sunday, October 1st, that the club found an available date in the calendar to mark the occasion.

Barnet Councillors, Anne Clarke, Giulia Innocenti and Nigel Young were the guests of honour and they threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the opening games of the 2023 Hunlock Series. During the ceremony the club expressed its gratitude to club members, the wider British and international baseball community, local residents and the many who contributed in various capacities – from grounds crew volunteers to architects.

The club highlighted the fantastic support of London Borough of Barnet councillors and members of staff from various departments. Councillor Peter Zinkin was overseas and wasn’t able to attend. He played a key part sponsoring the club’s Area Committee funding application.

The first phase of the project was to level and resurface the playing field with new grass.  That was implemented in September and October 2021 by the contractor Inscapes and it was time to move to phase two.

The club, with the help of Sport England, club members and the wider community successfully reached the £20,068 crowdfunding target in April 2022 and the London Borough of Barnet planning department granted the planning permission for the second phase of the project to commence.

In the summer of 2022 the club secured the services of several fantastic contractors. Galldris Group, who have been busy across the street with the huge Brent Cross Town development, implemented the excavation of the infield cutout areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.

Working on a very tight budget, the club relied on its own members and volunteers to do the heavy lifting of laying the 20 tonnes of sub-base and 40 tonnes of infield mix onto the cutout areas.

They somehow managed to avoid disruption to the youth and adult league schedules by squeezing all of this work into the five days between two weekends packed with games.

The first games on the new infield was the Triple-A League clash between the Herts Cardinals and the Cambridge Monarchs on 26 June, pictured above.

The mound clay blocks were installed on the pitcher’s mound and the batters’ and catcher’s boxes a week later.

The installation of the baseball backstop was completed by contractors Tate and Tonbridge Fencing in August 2022.

The last remaining step was the installation of the spectator rails on the first and third base side of the infield. With steel and fuel prices rising, the cost of this increased by 30% which delayed this final stage of the project.

It was completed successfully on 20 June 2023, just in time for an MLB Youth Baseball Clinic which Basing Hill Ballpark was selected to host.

It featured MLB stars, David Eckstein and Jake Arrieta – both World Series winners with St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, respectively. This was part of the 2023 MLB London Series events which culminated with the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals playing two official league games at the London Stadium on that weekend.

It will be interesting to see how this purpose-built baseball venue will develop in the coming years. Will there be more upgrades? With so many new players joining every year there already are four league teams playing at Basing Hill Ballpark so the venue will reach full capacity in the next few years. The club may need to replicate this project to avoid having to put new players on a waiting list.

One silver and two bronze medals for Herts in the National Youth Baseball Championships

One silver and two bronze medals for Herts in the National Youth Baseball Championships

LYBL continue to be the dominant force in British youth baseball as they finished in first place in all four age divisions of the BBF Youth National Baseball Championships. However, Herts Baseball Club is closing the gap.

U19

The Herts Falcons faced LYBL in the U19 national final. There were exceptionally talented players on both rosters with experience playing in the National Baseball League and for the Great Britain U15 and U18 National Teams. Those who were at the game saw very high level of baseball and a number of GB coaching staff were there too to assess British players.

Ten of the U19 players were members of the Herts Falcons NBL team this season –  seven of them were on the Falcons U19 roster and three were with LYBL U19 as this was the youth baseball programme which they came through. Unfortunately for Herts, Ben Sporleder, wasn’t able to recover from an injury in time for this game and Tasuku Ishihara also wasn’t available to play. This opened an opportunity for U19 players from the other Herts adult league teams to shine in this final. All seven Herts adult league teams were represented on the Herts Falcons U19 roster.

Dan Moran was the starting pitcher in the first game of this best-of-3 series and he had an excellent outing. The game went right down to the wire with LYBL U19 leading 4-3 going into the final inning, but they managed to drive in 4 more runs to win the game. 

Game Two became a must-win for the Falcons U19 and they had the best possible start taking a 2 -0 lead with starting pitcher Erik Gustafson keeping LYBL batters off balance and getting outs.  They had the opportunity to extend their lead when they loaded the bases with no one out in the later innings but LYBL U19 stayed calm under pressure to get out of that situation without allowing any runs to score. That was a missed opportunity and the momentum of the game changed. LYBL took the lead and didn’t look back as they won Game Two 9-3 winning the series and lifting the U19 national championship trophy.  GB U18 National Team manager, Erick Henson, chose Kaden Horwood as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the series.

U16

photo by Richard Williams

The Herts U16 team also faced LYBL in the semi-final and their task was just as difficult. J.J. Sanders kept the Falcons U16 in the game with a commanding performance on the mound but LYBL found a way through the Herts defence to take a 4-1 lead.   They managed to extend that lead to 10-1 after J.J. Sanders reached his regulation pitch count limit which is in force in youth baseball.

photo by Marcus Grant

In the U16 Bronze Medal game the Falcons U16 came up against the Essex Redbacks U16s who took a 6-3 lead. Herts players needed to find a way back into the game and they produced a late comeback to win 11-7 and take the U16 bronze medal.

U13

photo by Marcus Grant

The luck of the draw also paired Herts with the favourites LYBL in the U13 division.  Chi Hong Wong and Hans Hartman combined on the mound for the Falcons. They and the defence behind them had to battle against a very competent opponent. Similar to the U16 semi-final, Herts kept pace in the first half of the game but LYBL took the game beyond them eventually. Final score 12-3.

photo by Marcus Grant

London Mets were the opponents in the Bronze medal game and they won it 7-3.

U11

The Falcons U11 team secured the second Bronze medal for Herts Baseball Club. They came up against a strong Mets U11 team in the semi-final but bounced back in the Bronze medal game with a win against Essex Redbacks U11.

photo by Marcus Grant

MLB Spy

There were over 200 players and many more fans at Farnham Park for the  2023 National Youth Baseball Championships and they may not have realised that among them was an MLB All Star.  Chase Utley (pictured above on the bench) is a World Series winner with the Philadelphia Phillies but on Saturday he was quietly following the next generation of British Baseball players as an ambassador for MLB in Europe. Will one of them go on to play in MLB in the future? We look forward to following the progress of these talented young players in the coming years.

This Saturday

There is one more event for boys and girls aged between 6 and 15 this Saturday in the Annual Herts Futures Tournament.  New players can still register to play in the tournament.  Contact Herts Baseball Club for more details.

4 Herts teams compete in the national youth baseball championships this Saturday

4 Herts teams compete in the national youth baseball championships this Saturday

Herts Baseball Club will be represented in all four divisions of the 2023 BBF Youth National Baseball Championships this Saturday, 23 September.

U19 Division

The Herts Falcons U19 team goes into the Final as the underdogs against LYBL U19. However, Herts U19 manager, Will Zucker, is not fazed by the fact that the odds are stacked against his team. His roster features young players from all seven Herts adult league teams so it will be interesting to see if Herts players from the NBL, Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A leagues will be able to combine and work together as a team with very little time to prepare since the end of the adult league season last week.

The Final is a best-of-3 series with all three games being played on the same day. Pitching depth and physical stamina will be critical.

The club’s best finish in this age group was as runner-up in 2013 national championship when they beat the London Mets 6-4 in the semi-final and lost 6-9 in the final to the Cobham Cougars. Will Zucker was 16 years old and was the starting pitcher for the Herts Harriers in the final so this year he will have another shot at the U19 national title, this time as team manager.

U16 Division

photo by Richard Williams

Herts Falcons U16 will also face LYBL U16 in one of the semi-finals. The two teams met three times during the BBF Yotuh Super League regular season and LYBL won all three games, so they have the upper hand this Saturday. Herts U16 manager Nick Sanders will need his team to be at their very best if they are to eliminate the favourites.  The winner will face the winner of the other semi-final between Essex Redbacks and LYBL’s second team.

U13 Division

photo by Richard Williams

The format in the U13 Division is the same as the U16s and Herts Falcons U13 will face LYBL U13 with an equally difficult task. Herts U13 manager, Stephen Wong, added 10 extra training sessions during the summer holidays and this Saturday is the ideal opportunity to see if his team will manage to close the gap on LYBL. In the other Semi-Final, LYBL’s second team clash with the London Mets. The winners of the two Semi-Finals will meet in the final.

U11 Division

The Herts U11 roster includes players from the club’s two branches in Hemel Hempstead and in London so manager Daniel Rose will have the difficult task of blendinU them together. They face Mets U11 in the second semi-final with the winner facing the winner of the other semi-final between LYBL U11 and Essex Redbacks U11.

12 years of hurt…

The last time a Herts youth baseball team won the national championships was in 2010 when the Herts U14 team beat the London Mets 2-1 in the final. The closest that a Herts youth team has come to lifting the national championship trophy since 2010 was in 2011 and 2013 when they finished as runners-up in the U14 and U17 divisions, respectively. Can they bring the silverware back home this weekend?