Category: Youth Leagues

Club members elect five new board members

Club elects five new board members

The results from the 2021 board elections of Herts Baseball Club have been published confirming that five new members have joined the board.

Ken Pike (pictured above) returns to the board as manager of one of the adult league teams based at Grovehill Ballpark.  The identity of his team and which league it will enter in 2021 will be confirmed in the coming days. The most likely scenario is that he will be managing the Single-A League Herts Raptors taking over from Mantas Poderys who did an outstanding job with the team last year and who the club hopes will be back in managerial capacity as soon as his personal circumstances allow him to. Ken has extensive experience in the British baseball league, having previously managed the Raptors.

Adam Collins (pictured above) and Jamie Lang-Richards played for the Herts Eagles over the last two seasons and in 2021 they will have the added responsibility of being co-managers of one of the Herts adult teams based at the club’s north west London branch. The identity of the team and the league which it will play in will be announced soon. Their induction into the role is expected to be very smooth as both have been an integral part of the Herts adult teams in NW London.

Jamie Lang-Richards has played at Double-A and Single-A league level but which league will he be player-manager in? (photo by Rob Jones)

Will Zucker has been elected co-Director of Youth Baseball alongside Aspi Dimitrov who served in that role between 2012 and 2014. Zucker is a product of the Herts youth baseball programme. He went on to become the co-founder of the very successful Durham University Baseball programme and his work was recognised when he received the BSUK Young Coach of the Year Award in 2017.

Will Zucker wearing the Great Britain U19 national team uniform in 2016

He currently plays in Britain’s top league with the Herts Falcons and has also been selected by the Great Britain Under-19 and Under-23 National Teams.

In the coming weeks, Dimitrov and Zucker will be providing more details of their plans for the new regional youth baseball league which will feature teams from both Herts branches – in Hemel Hempstead and in North West London.

(Photo by Bianca Quarte)

The club’s youth baseball department has been strengthened further with the election of Cory English (pictured above). He will be heading either the Under-13 or the Under-11 programme, or possibly both. He is a member of the Herts Londoners and played a key role last year in the very successful launch of the youth baseball programme at Basing Hill Ballpark. Originating from New York, he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge which is already starting to be reflected in the baseball product which is being offered to boys and girls playing at Herts.

In addition to these five new board members, Greg Bochan, Rob Jones and Aspi Dimitrov were re-elected in their board positions as IT Director, Communications Director and Facilities Manager for Basing Hill Ballpark, respectively.

Prime Minister unveils plan to come out of the Covid lockdown

Prime Minister unveils plan to come out of the Covid lockdown

On Monday, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, unveiled a new four-step plan to ease England’s lockdown which could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June, if strict conditions are met.

It was good to see that organised sport will be one of the first sectors which will be allowed to resume outdoor activities. As a sport which had a Covid-secure protocol approved by the government in July 2020, baseball clubs up and down the country are expected to restart activities from 29 March onwards. Of course, the dates may be adjusted depending on the Covid data which the government will be monitoring, but this announcement means that our club can begin to plan with that timetable in mind.

The club has already started the process of adjusting the 2021 event and game schedule and adult and youth teams will receive an udate on this in the coming days.

We are excited by the prospect that baseball could return from March 29th. We will work closely with the sport’s authorities, and put in whatever work is necessary, to get everyone back in action safely as soon as possible.

Players now registering for the 2021 baseball season

Players now registering for the 2021 baseball season

Player registration for the 2021 season has commenced.

2020 was a difficult year for everyone but yesterday’s announcement that the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been approved has given us a reason to look ahead to Spring with increasing optimism that we will be able to play a full baseball season in 2021.

Despite the pandemic, last year the club welcomed 59 new members which could see the club go into 2021 even stronger than the year before.

As members start to register for the 2021 season, they would want to know whether the club has measures in place in the event that Covid-19 disrupts the league schedule and how that would affect membership fees. In July 2020, the UK government approved a Covid-secure protocol to allow baseball games to be played. Despite this, some events in 2021 may be affected if the government imposes stricter Covid restrictions in which case the club will do its best to minimize its own costs and pass the savings back to club members in the form of reduced membership fees. For example, when the 2020 league season was scaled down, membership fees were reduced to £20 for adult league play. In view of the effect of Covid-19 on the economy and on the finances of many families, the club has already reduced its 2021 membership fees by around 12% by removing many peripheral costs and focusing spending on the core elements of the membership packages.

ADULT BASEBALL LEAGUES

How many teams will represent Herts in 2021? 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)

  • 7 February – players report for Spring Training
  • 27-28 March – Start of the 2021 Herts Spring League (subject to confirmation of the BBF League Opening Day)*
  • March-April – Great Britain National Team Tryouts (senior and youth teams)*
  • 11 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 2021 membership packages

YOUTH BASEBALL LEAGUES

As reported earlier today (click to view article), in the coming weeks, we are expecting announcements regarding developments in the club’s youth baseball department and, in particular, details about plans for a new regional youth baseball league which will feature teams from both Herts branches in Hemel Hempstead and in North West London with a regular season schedule of around 12 games for each team. The proposal covers the U15, U13 and U11 age groups, while the Under-17 players will play their regular season as part of the Herts teams in the adult leagues. Around 75% of the regular season games of this proposed new youth league will be at home, with only 2 or 3 away games within a 30-minute drive from the home ballpark.

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 – Start of the new regional youth baseball league season
  • May-July – Midweek afternoon/evening baseball sessions
  • June – UK Little League Qualifiers
  • July – European Little League Qualifiers
  • mid-July – Playoffs and Finals of the new regional youth baseball league
  • September – BBF Postseason Playoffs and National Championships
  • September – Herts Futures Tournament

Click here for more details of the 2021 membership packages

WHICH BALLPARK WILL YOU PLAY YOUR HOME LEAGUE GAMES AT?

Now that the club 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 2021 HERTS BASEBALL SEASON

Those who already have a Herts Online Clubhouse account 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 2021 and the membership packages click here or contact us.

Changes expected in the Herts youth baseball department for 2021

Changes expected in the Herts youth baseball department for 2021

Herts Baseball Club is looking to unveil plans for the launch of a new regional youth baseball league for 2021.  The pandemic disrupted the youth baseball season last year and the club is determined not only to turn things around but to put in place a model which has good potential to develop and grow in the coming years.

Director of Youth Baseball, Lee Manning, has been heading the department since 2018 but, due to a change in his circumstances, the club is inviting candidates for the role ahead of the board elections at its annual general meeting on Sunday, 31 January 2021.

Two candidates have already expressed interest. Aspi Dimitrov and Will Zucker have indicated that they intend to put themselves forward as joint candidates for the role. The club would also welcome other candidates.

Dimitrov served in that role between 2012 and 2014 and has been a board member since 2004. Zucker was the co-founder of the very successful Durham University Baseball programme and his work was recognised when he received the BSUK Young Coach of the Year Award in 2017. He currently plays in Britain’s top league with the Herts Falcons and has also been selected by the Great Britain Under-19 and Under-23 National Teams. 

In the coming weeks, Dimitrov and Zucker will be providing more details of their plans for the new regional youth baseball league but we understand that the league aims to include teams from both Herts branches – in Hemel Hempstead and in North West London – with a regular season schedule of around 12 games for each team. It covers the U15, U13 and U11 age groups, while the Under-17 players will play their regular season as part of the Herts teams in the adult leagues. Around 75% of the regular season games of this proposed new youth league are expected to be at home, with only 2 or 3 away games within a 30-minute drive from the home ballpark.

The club has just launched its 2021 player registration and the youth membership package is based on this new model proposed by Dimitrov and Zucker. This gives club members the opportunity to vote on it and on proposals which other candidates may put forward ahead of the AGM.

There are several other board positions in the youth department which the club will be looking to fill, including heads of the different age groups at the Hemel Hempstead and the North West London branches. We understand that Cory English plans to put himself forward for the role of Head of Under-11 for the NW London branch. He is a member of the Herts Londoners and played a key role last year in the very successful launch of the youth baseball programme at Basing Hill Ballpark. We also understand that Cory English has been involved in the process of developing the new regional league model which Aspi Dimitrov and Will Zucker will be proposing.

Candidates interested in these and other board and non-board positions in Hemel Hempstead and in NW London can contact the club for more details.

Details of the 2021 membership packages for adult and youth members and how to register for the upcoming season can be found here.

Government approves Covid-secure return of baseball

Government approves Covid-secure return of baseball

The UK government has confirmed that they have approved the British Baseball Federation and BSUK guidance for the return of baseball games.

The guidance complies with the requirements outlined in the government advice for team sports and enables games for up to 30 participants to resume in England.

The number of participants in baseball training sessions can also increase from 6 to 30 while continuing to follow social distancing and the other Covid-19 measures.

Herts Baseball Club will shortly be announcing the format and schedule for the league and other games for the Herts adult teams which will be played in August and September.

Adult and youth baseball training sessions are continuing. Any adult or youth players who are interested to try baseball can contact us for details.

2020 Herts Youth Baseball: Registration is Open

Herts baseball club has planned a range of options for 2020 for one of our great strengths, and our most important investment in the future — our youth players. The aim is to give plenty of chances for both training and game time for kids from ages 6 to 18.

We don’t yet know if the coronavirus outbreak is going to have a long-term impact, and affect the summer baseball season. If it does, Herts will lower all its youth fees accordingly. No money will be taken until the situation is clearer. But at this early stage, we are going ahead with registration so that everything is ready when baseball can be resumed.

We appreciate everybody’s patience, and we hope that we can all get back where we want to be — on the diamond — very soon. Those of you already on our mailing list should receive details via e-mail of how to register. If you are new to the club and the sport, please contact us through our website link and we will tell you all you need to know.

Since the Herts youth operation began over a decade ago it has seen success at the National Baseball Championships in several age groups. And, even more importantly, it has seen a steady stream of local boys and girls getting involved in a new sport, and making new friends.

In 2020, the core Herts Youth membership package will be a training programme, running throughout the year. Players aged between 6 and 18 will be able to work on all the fundamental skills of baseball, under the guidance of our new Head Coach, Colin Barrett. He has vast experience, most recently as the South Africa Under-12 head coach.

There will be a total of 18 sessions, including Saturday work both indoors and outdoors. And that also includes 10 midweek training sessions. These are most likely to be on Wednesdays, but our staff are currently pinning down a final confirmation. Each of those sessions will be at least 2 hours long.

Coach Colin has already been enjoying getting involved with the kids on fielding drills, on learning to throw the ball correctly, and on how to play the game. Players have enjoyed the experience of Baseball 5, a fast-moving game which helps put knowledge into practice.

Herts will then offer two separate options for games, with players able to make a choice depending on their goals and their circumstances.

One option is to play for the East of England team, competing in the British Baseball Federation (BBF) All Star leagues. This is a great chance to maximise playing time, and take on other teams from around our region.

East of England at the UKLLQ in 2019

In this programme, for players aged 8 to 18, kids from Herts will play alongside team-mates from Leicester, Cambridge, Lakenheath, Northampton and Essex Redbacks — and together they will face teams from other southern clubs including Guildford and Brighton.

Games will take place on Saturdays, both at our home field of Grovehill in Hemel Hempstead and also travelling to away games.

Kids who sign up for this game package will be automatically included in the extended roster for the Youth National Baseball Championships at Farnham Park in September; and for the UK Little League Qualifiers — a competition which culminates in a tournament in Williamsport, USA.

The final teams for these tournaments will be only 13 players, chosen by the coaches. But all who sign up will get an equal chance to compete for a place, and our emphasis remains on enjoying the sport, and learning.

Herts manages the East of England (EoE) programme with other clubs. Our lead on it will be Youth Commissioner, Lee Manning.

The alternative game package is Play Ball membership, which is intended as a recreational programme for more casual players aged 6 to 12. This team will not travel, so is a great opportunity for any players unable to make the trips to away games.

There will be a minimum of 10 event days in the season, running from April to July. The entire schedule will be announced at the start of the season, to help families to plan.

The sessions are on Saturdays at Grovehill, starting at 11am and lasting between 90 minutes and 2 hours. Players will work on a specific baseball skill for a time, and will then play games.

The Play Ball programme will be headed up by John Kjorstad, a club veteran who has been involved with the youth teams for several years.

The idea is that all Herts youth players join the core training programme, and then choose one game package. We aim to provide at least one game jersey for players, or a voucher to be used for a Herts cap for the Play Ball section, but due to the lead time on orders, we will need to finalise this once we know when the 2020 season will start.

Players cannot sign up for both game packages, chiefly because they can’t be in two places at once on any given Saturday! However, those who sign up for the East of England will be able to participate in Play Ball at no extra charge, if they have a weekend off from EoE games.

Herts baseball club is excited to be able to offer this range of programmes to help make it easier to play baseball in 2020, whatever your availability and ability. Our aim is to spread the word about the sport and offer the boys and girls who join us an enjoyable and rewarding time.

Herts adds two more board members

Herts Baseball Club’s executive board has expanded with the addition of two more members.

Colin Barrett has been appointed as Head Youth Coach, an area where he has extensive experience as the Head Coach of the South African Under-12 National Team. He also managed the South Africa Men’s Softball National Team at the 2004 World Championships in New Zealand.

The second addition is Erica Barrett who has been appointed as Club Secretary. She also brings a wealth of experience having been involved for many years in baseball and softball in South Africa.

Erica has also expressed interest in getting involved in the club’s softball programme, which is currently placed on hold while it searches to fill the vacant coaching position. Anyone interested in joining the Herts softball programme in a playing, coaching or other capacity can contact the club for more details.

The Barrett family has only just arrived to the UK, but Colin, Erica and their children are already giving a boost to the club as it prepares for the start of the 2020 season.

MVP vote results are in

The Most Valuable Players (MVP) of the ten Herts adult and youth teams have been announced.  This year the club opened the voting up to include not only Herts club members but the wider public, similar to MLB’s All Star voting.

The Herts Falcons made history this year playing in the European Federations Cup for the first time and despite a disappointing season in the National Baseball League, there wasn’t a shortage of candidates. In a very close race fans decided that this year’s Falcons MVP is Jarrod Pretorius (17% of the votes) who was among the team leaders in a number of categories including home runs and slugging average.

There was less doubt about the Herts Londoners’ MVP. Pitcher Chris Gregory won it convincingly with 29% of the votes after a phenomenal debut season at the club during which he had the most wins, best ERA and was also at or near the top of many offence and defence categories. He was also the starting pitcher who recorded the only Falcons’ win in the five European Federations Cup games.

Mike Cresswell was the driving force for the Herts Hawks this season as the team’s player-manager and he was voted MVP (31% of the votes). He has made huge strides since joining Herts in 2012 starting at Single-A and moving rapidly up the leagues. This year he even earned a call-up to play for the Herts Falcons in the European Federations Cup.

Similar to the Hawks, fans decided that the Raptors MVP is its player-manager, Matt Jackson, with 22% of the votes. He led the team in most of the batting categories. With so many young players making their debuts for the Raptors this season and performing better with each passing week, it is expected that Jackson will have a lot more competition in the MVP voting in the years to come.

There were many credible candidates for Herts Eagles MVP but Rob Gibson was the one who stood out in every aspect of the game and this was reflected in the MVP poll which he won convincingly with 28% of the votes. It is rare to see a 5-tool player in the Single-A League and Gibson is not far from being certified as one.

The MVP poll for the Herts youth teams attracted the largest number of votes and it looks like friends, family members and school mates took part in vast numbers which the club was very pleased to see. Involving the wider community was one of the reasons for opening the voting up to the public.

Herts U18 MVP – Oliver Durer

Herts U15 MVP – Nicholas Durer

Herts U13 MVP – Leon Gutowski

Herts U11 MVP – Daniel Heal

Herts U8 MVP – Jake Walder-Davis
IMG_2358

There was a tight race in the vote for Play of the Year. Eight of the nine nominees were Eagles or Raptors, but it was the Herts Falcons’ semi-nude antics in Bulgaria that won it.  Originally, this was nominated for the Nob-Out Award and it was added to the Play of the Year category in the last minute, but the fans have spoken and it looks like they felt that, despite lacking in baseball skill, it had an abundance of flair. Over 30,000 viewed the video on social networks which reaffirmed its credentials.

It was an even bigger surprise that it didn’t win the Nob-Out Award.  That accolade went to Herts Raptors’ Mantas Poderys who nominated himself for falling face-first a few feet short of first base in the Herts Derby away at the Eagles. Herts Hawks’ Gilberto Medina just missed out in second place. He was nominated for reporting for duty at the ballpark on the wrong day of the week.

The 2019 season may have ended but the start of Spring Training is not far away and the Herts adult and youth league teams in Hemel Hempstead and North West London will be starting their preparations for the 2020 season. New players interested to find out more about playing baseball and joining Herts in 2020 can contact the club.

It’s time to cast your votes

It has been a record year for Herts Baseball Club with 116 players appearing for the five Herts adult league teams and 49 players for the Herts youth teams.

We have seen some outstanding individual and team performances and plays this year and now it’s time to cast your vote for the 2019 Most Valuable Players (MVPs) of the Herts adult and youth baseball teams as well as the Play of the Year and Nob-Out Awards. We even have the unusual case of a play being nominated for both Play of the Year and Nob-Out Award at the same time.

This year we are opening up the vote to everyone. You can vote regardless of whether or not you are a club member. Also, unlike previous years, you can vote for the MVP of all of the Herts adult and youth teams, not just of your team.

Cast your vote now here.  Voting closes at 23:59 on Sunday, 20 October 2019.

14 teams to compete for the HFT titles this Saturday

14 teams will be in action at the 2019 Herts Futures Tournament (HFT) which will take place this Saturday, 21 September 2019.

U13 Pool A

  • Cartmel Valley Lions (U13)
  • Herts (U13)
  • Leicester Little Sox (U13)
  • London Mets (U13)

U13 Pool B

  • Brighton Fireballs (U13)
  • Cartmel Valley Tigers (U13)
  • Forest Glade RedBacks (U13)
  • RAF Lakenheath Yankees (U13)

U11 Pool A

  • London Mets (U11)
  • London Sports (U11)
  • Northants Centurions (U11)

U11 Pool B

  • Brighton Fireballs (U11)
  • Herts (U11)
  • LYBL Bulldogs (U11)

The opening ceremony will take place at 10:00am. The first games begin at 10:50am and the Finals will be played at around 3:30pm. To view the games schedule click here.

 

“Herts Baseball Club welcomes new players at any time of the year” said club president, Aspi Dimitrov. “Any children aged between 8 and 13 who are interested to give baseball a try should contact the club. It is not too late to take part in this event.”

Traditional baseball snacks will be on offer including hot dogs, Krispy Kreme Donuts and more.

The HFT has been held every year since 2008 and is now a permanent fixture in the British baseball calendar. It brings together youth teams from across the country for a day of baseball at one of the best baseball venues in the United Kingdom.

For more information about the event visit the Herts Futures Tournament homepage.