Category: Featured

Teams starting to enter the 2022 Herts Spring League

Teams starting to enter the 2022 Herts Spring League

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

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

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

Spring is the time when managers put together their teams and aim to turn them into winning machines ahead of Opening Day. Similar to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB, the HSL provides a competitive edge to spring training. This is the fifteenth year of the HSL. Every year this competition keeps growing. Last year a record 22 teams took part. For more details visit the HSL site.

LEAGUE FORMAT
Teams will be placed in divisions based on their ranking going into the new season. The exact format will depend on the number of teams entering the HSL. Full details will be published when the league line-up is confirmed.

(photo by Tony Small)

TEAMS
Over the years the HSL has featured teams from the National Baseball League (NBL), Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A Leagues, as well as international teams such as the GB Under-19 and Under-16 National Teams and the ASL Eagles.

Teams from around the United Kingdom will be submitting their entries over the next few weeks and the HSL lineup and games schedule is expected to be published in early March.

VENUES

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

MLB pitcher is in town

MLB pitcher is in town

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

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

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

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

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

Board appointments at Herts. Falcons manager news expected soon.

Board appointments at Herts. Falcons manager news expected soon.

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

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

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

Single-A team managers

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

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

General Manager

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

Herts Falcons Manager

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

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

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

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

Player registration for the 2022 season has commenced.

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

ADULT BASEBALL LEAGUES

How many teams will represent Herts in 2022? The next few weeks will be crucial as the number of players registering will determine how many teams will be entered before the league entry deadline; how many will play in Hemel Hempstead and how many will play in London; which leagues the teams will play in.

KEY DATES – ADULT TEAMS

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

  • 30 January – players report for Spring Training
  • 19-20 March – Start of the 2022 Herts Spring League (subject to confirmation of the BBF League Opening Day)*
  • March-April – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • 3 or 10 April – BBF League Opening Day (subject to confirmation)*
  • May – Midweek Evening Baseball commences
  • August-September* – BBF Postseason Playoffs and National Championships
  • September-October – Hunlock Series

* – these are preliminary dates. The BBF will be making its official announcements in due course.

Click here for more details of the membership packages

YOUTH BASEBALL LEAGUES

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

KEY DATES – YOUTH TEAMS

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

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

Click here for more details of the membership packages

WHICH BALLPARK WILL YOU PLAY YOUR HOME LEAGUE GAMES AT?

Herts has two ballparks. The online registration form will ask players to indicate whether they prefer to play their home league games in Hemel Hempstead or in NW London, or whether they would be happy with either. This will provide important information to club management when they configure the adult and youth team rosters for the new season.

HOW TO REGISTER FOR THE 2022 BASEBALL SEASON

Those who already have an account with the club will be prompted to register when they log on next time (click here to go to the Herts online Clubhouse and log on with your existing username and password). Those who are new to Herts Baseball Club and do not have an online account can register as members by completing this form. For more details about joining our teams in 2022 and the membership packages click here or contact us.

2021 MVP vote results are in

2021 MVP vote results are in

The Most Valuable Players (MVP) of the ten Herts adult and youth 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.

The Falcons voted for Will Zucker who led the team not only as a player but also stepped in as interim co-manager alongside Mike Cresswell in what was a very challenging year for the team. Jack O’Brien has made big strides over the last few years and this has been recognised as he was voted the Hawks MVP. 14-year-old Harry McMenamin was the Raptors MVP in what was his debut year in the BBF senior leagues. There could be no question about the Eagles MVP where Mike Wakelam led not just the team but the entire league with 9 home runs.  He also led the team with a .667 batting average and 1.444 slugging average. Cory English was the Londoners MVP. He made his BBF league debut with Herts this year and in just a few months has become one of the most popular players around the league, not to mention his spectacular fielding which produced multiple nominations for Play of the Year.

The Herts U18 team voted Josh Badenhorst as the MVP after his outstanding pitching performance in the Semi-Final of the U18 National Championships. That game was suspended halfway through and is expected to resume in the Spring so he has some unfinished business. Harry McMenamin was the U15 MVP while Lucas Hao was the U13 MVP after a dominant display which almost gave Herts a win over LS.  The Herts U11 league home run leader Connor O’Neill-Thompson was voted Herts Falcons U11 MVP and Cosmo English of the Herts Londoners U11 became the second member of his family to be voted MVP this year.

Dale Hardwick’s canon throw from centerfield was voted Play of the Year in a close race with Connor O’Neill-Thompson and Rory Graham and Cosmo English and Simon Painvin who turned a triple play in the U11 national championships group stages.

The winner of the not-so-coveted Nob-Out Award was Mike Cresswell who managed to fall on his face while being filmed by a high-tech 2-man camera crew and a microphone attached to him for a promotional video. The club is trying to obtain the video from the tv crew.

The club doesn’t have a personality of the year award but, if it did, it surely would have gone to 6-year-old Mason Barnaby. He was already recognised during the trophy presentation at the end of the Herts Youth Baseball League season for an outstanding act of sportsmanship. During one of the championships-deciding games he asked the umpire for time in order to run to the team bench area to encourage his teammate Owen Ridgway to rejoin the game after he had picked up a knock earlier in the day. He is one of the youngest members from the new generation of players who joined the Herts youth baseball programme this year and after the end of the season he has been involved in raising awareness of diabetes. He was on BBC radio to talk about diabetes and playing baseball. (Click to listen on BBC Sounds)

Herts AGM – club grows by 44% and aims to move up the league standings in 2022

Herts AGM – club grows by 44% and aims to move up the league standings in 2022

Herts Baseball Club’s 25th Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday, 5 December, and it provided an analysis of the 2021 season, the club’s current position on and off the field and plans for 2022 and beyond.

Growth

It was confirmed that the club grew by 44% this year and has reached the milestone of 200 adult and youth members. The club managed to reverse the decline in its youth programme and it is bigger now than at any time in its 15-year history growing from 21 members in 2020 to 75 this year. Co-Director of Youth Baseball, Aspi Dimitrov, pointed out the key role that the parents played in ensuring that the club had the capacity to welcome so many new boys and girls to the club. He emphasised that: “This is only Year One of this project and there are many more components that we need to add and enhance.”

Competitiveness

Competitiveness on the field of play was a hot topic as the five Herts teams struggled to compete in the BBF senior leagues this year, particularly in the NBL and Double-A. While the issue with the Herts Hawks can be addressed next year by moving the team to the Single-A League, for the Falcons the solution is more complex (see a separate article with more detailed analysis on the subject of competitiveness).

Aspi Dimitrov updated members about the project to rebuild the Falcons roster.  The club is currently in discussions with candidates to become Herts Falcons manager. Excluding players who played for the Falcons this season, so far 25 players have completed the online form to express interest in playing for Herts in the National Baseball League in 2022. Among them are players who have played in America, Australia, Japan and for the Great Britain National Teams.  The recruitment process continues and players and coaches can express interest in playing or managing in the NBL with Herts in 2022 by completing this form.

Although the three Herts Single-A league teams ended up with a much better win-loss record than in 2019, they did not qualify for the playoffs. The club presented the results of its end of season survey of members and one of the questions was whether to build one of the two Single-A teams at each branch to compete for a place in the playoffs while the other to develop new players.  The majority felt that this would be a better approach, but the final decision will of course be at the discretion of the team managers who have the flexibility to fine-tune the extent to which this approach is adopted.

Finances

Off the field the club continues to be in a healthy financial position with a good level of cash reserves.

Ballparks

The £8,174 project to repair the vandalised fencing at Grovehill Ballpark was completed in April and the club made further investments in Hemel Hempstead with the purchase of 10 tons of higher grade infield clay mix and implementing aeration of the turf (see video above) which produced a visibly better grass playing surface. The club plans to make the aeration process a permanent element of the annual maintenance plan at Grovehill. 

Aerial view of the first phase of the Basing Hill Ballpark project (photo by office@azariahgrossphotography.co.uk)

Thanks to the incredible generosity from club members and the wider community who donated to the Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding project, the club implemented the first phase of the project to level and resurface the playing field with new grass. It is now exploring grant and other funding options for the next phase of the project which includes installation of the backstop, the infield cut-out areas and pitching mound.

Events

After the winter lockdown was lifted in April the club saw a record 22 teams play in the Herts Spring League. Grovehill Ballpark also hosted the BBF Triple-A and Single-A League Playoffs, the U13 and U11 National Championships, Women’s GB Team events and the filming of a children’s television programme about baseball which aired on Channel 5 in September featuring Herts youth team players. The Hunlock Series was back too.

BBF news

Club members were updated about news coming out of the BBF AGM which took place a week earlier. It was reported that over the last few months the interim board encountered many obstacles while implementing the transition process after several board members stepped down in May.

Tom Thornhill who is a member of the Norwich Iceni has now been elected as the new President of the BBF. It was also announced that the Triple-A National Champions BC Vetra will be promoted to the NBL in 2022.

Beyond 2022

The meeting presented details of two large upcoming developments – Hemel Garden Communities and Brent Cross Town – which will create thousands of new homes, jobs, transport and other infrastructure within a few hundred metres of the two ballparks. These are expected to make both Grovehill Ballpark and Basing Hill Ballpark even more valuable in the coming years with an even larger number of potential new adult and youth players and fans on the club’s doorstep.

MLB

Finally, the club analysed the various news and statements by the Mayor of London on tv and in the newspapers  which suggest that MLB will return to London in the next one or two years having cancelled the 2020 London Series due to Covid-19. The timing of this would coincide very well with the club’s ambitious expansion plans over the next few years.

Board elections

With the AGM being held on Zoom, members will receive an email with details how to cast their votes over the next two weeks by email as it is not possible for members to vote anonymously on Zoom. A number of Board positions are up for election either as part of the annual retirement of a third of the Board positions or because they are vacant.

Finding a way to win on and off the field.

Finding a way to win on and off the field.

This article was written by Aspi Dimitrov

One of the central topics of discussion among members of Herts Baseball Club, not just this year but over the years, has been competitiveness on the field. It will be covered at the upcoming Annual General Meeting and this article aims to outline the obstacles that we face and the way forward.

2021 was a difficult season particularly for the Falcons in the National Baseball League (NBL) and the Hawks in the Double-A League. 

The Hawks found themselves in the awkward position of having to decide which league to enter before the newly appointed manager had the opportunity to see the players and assess the roster because the BBF league entry deadline came while we were still in lockdown and before players reported back for Spring Training.  Playing in the Double-A League was asking too much of that roster and we should make sure that we prevent this from happening in the future as it resulted in an unsatisfactory experience for the members of the team. Next year, if the Hawks roster is of similar strength, they can address the problem by playing in the Single-A League where they would be in a much better position to compete and develop players. Of course there is a lot more involved in building a baseball team, but placing it in the most suitable league will provide the right environment for the players and the coaching staff to work in.

We now have the advantage of potentially having four Single-A teams – two in Hemel Hempstead and two in NW London. This opens up the option for the Single-A managers to build one of those rosters to compete for the championship and the other to develop new players. Whether the teams adopt this approach is for the team managers to determine but club members will be able to discuss this at the upcoming AGM.

For the Falcons the solution is more complex. The last BBF season prior to this year was 2019. The roster at the time was made up of 24 players. Only two of those 24 players are still with the team today.  This decline in numbers was not due to Covid. Herts saw growth in its other adult baseball teams both in 2020 and in 2021. Other British clubs also recorded growth between 2019 and 2021 with two brand new NBL teams appearing on the map. So many Herts players are now playing for other teams in the NBL and in other leagues. Some would say that other clubs have unfairly stolen our players. I look at it differently. If we lose players we should look at ourselves. Did we offer the best baseball experience and product? What did these players find at other clubs that was missing at Herts?

This year was a record year for the club. We reached the milestone of 200 adult and youth club members, a 44% increase from the 139 members in the previous year. Although we have been extremely successful at growing and introducing new players to the game of baseball, we have not been as good at attracting and retaining the more advanced players. We have become a feeder club for other NBL teams. The British baseball landscape is evolving rapidly and perhaps we didn’t recognise the changes around us but we have to be honest with ourselves and accept that we have not been offering what is demanded by players who are aspiring to develop and reach the next level.

Maikel Azcuy (top left), Conner Brown (top right), Cris Hiche (bottom left), Xavi Gonzalez (bottom right)

Between 2013 and 2017 we were a feeder club for the advanced European clubs.  Xavi Gonzalez (Stuttgart Reds, Germany), Maikel Azcuy (Berlin Flamingos, Germany), Cris Hiche (Dornbirn Indians, Austria) and Conner Brown (Cologne Cardinals, Germany) all signed semi-professional contracts with those respective clubs.  Since then, under the positive influence of the GB programme, the NBL teams around us have stepped up their efforts and have overtaken us.

Players will always aspire to realize their full potential and play at a higher level, but we want to progress from being a feeder club for British teams to being a club where we not only close the gap on the European teams but we overtake them and they become feeder clubs for us. It means players can play with Herts knowing that they do not have to go through Europe to have a shot at playing in America or other leading baseball countries.

This will not happen overnight. It is a gradual process which started this month. With Cris Hiche stepping down, the first and very important step is to appoint a new team manager. It needs to be someone who can see through the noise and recognise the enormous opportunities and potential of our club. Someone who can put the right structure in place to enable players to develop through the system. To succeed, all of our teams need to work closely together, from the NBL team and the lower league teams to, very importantly, the youth programme.

Winning off the field

But it will take a lot more than this. While our team managers focus on finding a way to win on the field and developing players to their full potential, my focus will be on off-field operations. I am exploring ways of generating additional revenue streams for the club which we can re-invest into club facilities and improving the product which we are offering to adult and youth members. I hope, in time, that we can reach the stage where we generate enough additional revenue to be able to offer semi-professional contracts to players.

From my perspective, the final scores will be just as important as the number of people that come to Grovehill for the seven NBL home games that the Falcons will play each season. The aim is for the Falcons to attract, and play in front of, the largest audience in the NBL. Of course, people will not come to the ballpark if the Falcons struggle on the field as they did this year.

In 2012 MLB players came to London to run clinics for British boys and girls. If our plans come to fruition, Herts youth players will be able to work with high standard players and coaches much more regularly.

Our club does not have a billionaire investor. One or two NBL teams have explored the option of paying an import player and we have seen a big club like the Southampton Mustangs go bankrupt and they no longer exist. We must not gamble with the club’s future. We have to maintain our financial discipline and make sure that our team departments balance their budgets. But if we manage to generate these additional revenue-streams we can start to explore the option of bringing in high-calibre players not just to play but also to coach the youth programme and the other adult teams. There are many factors and moving pieces so there are no guarantees about the level of additional revenue which we will manage to generate, but it will be interesting to see if we can do it.

The bigger picture

Of course this focus on competitiveness does not mean that the club will neglect beginners who join the club.  In football and other mainstream sports the tendency is to select those who can compete at the highest level and say goodbye to the rest. Our club has a completely different approach and ethos. We welcome everybody and everyone plays. We have to put in the hard work to help players to develop. This will enable us to increase the competiveness of our teams as a whole and in such a way that every player has a role to play which is fulfilling and contributes on the way to the playoffs.  We have seen Herts players progress from Single-A to the NBL in just a few years. It is not easy to achieve, but it is not impossible.

Many join the club because they enjoy the social side of the game and the family atmosphere around the club and we must never lose this. This applies equally to our adult and to our youth teams.

It is important to emphasise that the goals that are being set will not be reached overnight. We will be trying a new model and there will be many setbacks before we get there, but the work has started already and club members will play a key role in this.  The coming years will certainly be interesting for everyone connected with the club.

Herts publishes AGM details

Herts publishes AGM details

AGM NOTICE

In accordance with the Club’s Constitution, this is a notice of the upcoming 25th Annual General Meeting of Herts Baseball Club.  The AGM will take place as follows:
 
DATE
Sunday, 5 December 2021

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

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 2021 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 2021 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 2022.  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 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 2021 members. It will include information such as the AGM agenda, 2021 report, financial statements, election details and more. 
 
ELECTION OF 2022 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 a third of the Board positions or because they are vacant.
 
The club is now inviting nominations for the following Board positions:  
BOARD POSITIONS (appointment duration in brackets)

  • Treasurer (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Club Secretary (term ends 31st December 2022)
  • Shop Manager (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Facilities Manager – Grovehill (term ends 31st December 2022)
  • Welfare Officer (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Manager NBL (term ends 31st December 2022)
  • Manager Single-A or Double-A2 – Hemel Hempstead (term ends 31st December 2023)
  • Manager Single-A or Double-A2 – NW London (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Manager Single-A or Double-A2 – NW London (term ends 31st December 2022)
  • Head of U15 Baseball – Hemel Hempstead (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Head of U13 Baseball – Hemel Hempstead (term ends 31st December 2023)
  • Head of U11 Baseball – Hemel Hempstead (term ends 31st December 2022)
  • Head of U15 Baseball – NW London (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Head of U13 Baseball – NW London (term ends 31st December 2024)
  • Head of Softball (term ends 31st December 2023)

Notes:

2 The leagues which our teams will enter in 2022 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 2022. 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 (Click here to view). If you have difficulties accessing the forum with your username and password please contact the club.
 
NOMINATION PROCESS
Nominations require two votes – nomination and second.  Nominations of Board members can be received at any time, including during the AGM. Nominations can only be accepted from persons eligible to vote at the AGM. If you are concerned about the nomination process, members of the current Board would be happy to consider supporting your nomination and giving you the necessary two votes to be able to stand for election, so feel free to get in touch with current Board members. To nominate or to second a candidate, post in the Herts Baseball online Forum.
 
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 25 November 2021, at the latest. You can find a copy of the Constitution on the club’s website (click to view).

Herts stalwart Hiche steps down

Herts stalwart Hiche steps down

One of the leading figures of the past decade for the Herts Falcons, Cris Hiche, has decided to step down as the manager of the team.

Hiche originally joined the Falcons ahead of the 2012 season, and helped to push them to unprecedented levels of success. The team reached the playoff finals that year, and lost in six games to the Harlow Nationals. His first four seasons with Herts proved to be among the best in the club’s history and included reaching the NBL playoffs in three out of these four seasons, and semi-finals in 2013 and 2015.

Hiche’s outstanding performances in this period were recognised with the award of the NBL Outfield Gold Glove in 2012 and 2013, when he did not commit a single error. In 2013 he was also the Falcons’ home run leader.

After a year playing in the Austrian league in 2016, Cris Hiche returned to Herts. By 2018 he had become the manager, and once again led the Falcons to success. An impressive post-season run – in which he was now a successful starting pitcher – saw the team return to the NBL finals against the Mets.

The London side swept the finals series, but there was another aspect to this achievement – Herts had qualified for Europe for the first time in their history. In the summer of 2019, Hiche’s Falcons played in Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria in the European Federations Cup. They secured a win against the Lithuanian side, Utenos Titanai, and indulged in a famous rain-soaked streak. Don’t worry, we won’t share pictures of Cris in his undercrackers.

The Chilean has also been instrumental off the field for Herts for many years. He joined the club’s executive board as the head of the Under-17 and Under-19 programmes. In 2013 he led the Herts Under-17 team to the National Final finishing as runners-up which is the club’s best position in that age group. He has also served in posts including facilities manager and overseen training programmes for all levels.

Cris had to step away from managing in 2021 for family reasons, and has now decided not to return in 2022. Herts wishes him all the best for what comes next, and we still hope to see him return to the club to drive more success in years to come.

Herts Falcons and Herts Londoners launch player recruitment for 2022 NBL season.

Herts Falcons and Herts Londoners launch player recruitment for 2022 NBL season.

Today, Herts Baseball Club published details of Herts Falcons’ plans for the 2022 NBL season, as follows.

CLUB STATEMENT

2021 was a difficult season in the National Baseball League (NBL) for the club’s flagship team, the Herts Falcons.

The team has had an illustrious 26-year history and has been a member of the NBL since 2009 after the Falcons won promotion as the Triple-A League National Champions in 2008. 

The club is determined to ensure that the team not only continues to play in Britain’s highest league but that it is capable of challenging for a place in the playoffs. This will not be an easy task and it will not happen overnight, but the hard work begins today.

The club has just launched its recruitment campaign with the aim of rebuilding the Falcons squad in time for the 2022 NBL season.

Furthermore, with the project to build the new Basing Hill Ballpark in North West London making excellent progress, this recruitment drive will also aim to sign-up players with a view to making the Herts Londoners the club’s second team to join the NBL.

Apart from players, the club is also inviting candidates for team manager.

Tryouts will be held in Hemel Hempstead and in London and the dates will be confirmed in due course.  The club will also be providing applicants with details of income-generating opportunities for those players who sign-up to play for the Falcons and the Londoners.

Club President Aspi Dimitrov said: “This is an opportunity for players who are looking to compete in the NBL to play for one of the biggest baseball clubs in Britain with nearly 200 registered players this year and over 700 that have worn the Herts jersey over the last 26 years. We are inviting not only elite players with experience in the top leagues, but we are particularly interested to work with young players and those who may not have played in the top league yet, with a view to giving them the opportunity and the necessary game time to develop in the NBL.”

To express interest in playing for the Herts Falcons and the Herts Londoners in the NBL in 2022 and for more information about this opportunity, players are invited to complete this online form.

The invitation is not only for new players but also for current and former members of Herts Baseball Club. Completing the form will ensure that you receive details of the upcoming tryouts and other updates about playing in the NBL with Herts in 2022.