Category: Youth Leagues

Herts youth baseball league U15,U13 and U11 finals moved to 24 September

Herts youth baseball league U15,U13 and U11 finals moved to 24 September

Herts Baseball Club received the news that only one other baseball club is likely to enter teams in the BBF national youth baseball championships which were expected to be played on 24-25 September. In view of the difficulties which this presents, Herts has decided not to enter its teams in the various age divisions of the tournament.

In place of that event, the club has now moved the finals of the Herts U15, U13 and U11 leagues to Saturday, 24 September. All games will be played at the newly upgraded Basing Hill Ballpark in London.

In the U15/U13 division, the Herts Falcons and the Herts Hawks find themselves tied in the standings and they will meet in the final at 12:15pm to determine the champion.

HYBL U11 Standings

PosTeamWLPctGBRSRADiffStrkNext Game
1830.7270724626W8-
2730.7000.5726012W6-
3420.6671.523203W1-
4540.556250437L1-
5660.5002.56678-12L6-
6280.2005.55471-17W1-
6280.2005.54665-19L7-

In the U11 division the final will be contested between the Herts Cardinals (8-3) and Herts Falcons (7-3) who are in first and second place in the standings, respectively. The winner will become the U11 champion. The game will start at 10:30.

British youth baseball teams have started entering the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament

In the following week, the Herts U15, U13 and U11 teams will be joined by teams from around the United Kingdom to play in the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament.  All the games will be played at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead on Saturday, 1 October.

British youth baseball teams have started entering the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament

British youth baseball teams have started entering the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament

Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that the 2022 Herts Futures Tournament will take place on Saturday, October 1st.

The Herts Futures Tournament (HFT) was first held in 2008 and is now a permanent fixture in the British baseball calendar. The number of teams entering the tournament has been going up. The highest number of entries which we have managed to accommodate in previous years has been 21 teams. It will be interesting to see how many teams will enter this year. If the number continues to increase the club will have to consider ways of expanding the venue further.

The event brings together youth teams of various age groups from across the country for a day of baseball at one of the best baseball venues in the UK. Grovehill Ballpark is the home of Herts Baseball Club. Over the years the venue has been selected to host some of the biggest events in the British baseball calendar including the National Baseball Championships and Great Britain National Team events.

During the Herts Futures Tournament additional diamonds are added to cater for the different age groups.

This year’s edition is expected to cover the Under-15, Under-13 and Under-11 age groups.

For more information about the event, how to enter your team in the Tournament or how players can join the Herts teams to play in the HFT, visit the Herts Futures Tournament homepage or contact us.

Herts youth teams gear up for the National Baseball Championships. Badenhorst and Barrett to manage the U19s.

Herts youth teams gear up for the National Baseball Championships. Badenhorst and Barrett to manage the U19s.

Herts is preparing to enter teams in all age divisions of the of the 2022 National Youth Baseball Championships – U19, U15, U13 and U11.  The event is expected to take place on 24 and 25 September.

New players are continuing to register to play for the Herts teams in these games which will give them the opportunity to represent the club and compete with teams from around the UK for the national title.

The majority of these players are playing baseball for the first time in their lives this year so it will be interesting to see how they will respond to the challenge.

The club has also confirmed that Duane Badenhorst and Colin Barrett (pictured above) will be the joint managers of the Herts U19 team. Both bring a wealth of baseball experience having played and coached in South Africa and Great Britain, including at international level with the South Africa U12 National Team, South Africa Men’s Softball Team and, currently, the Great Britain Men’s Softball Team.

Duane Badenhorst (centre) with the Herts U17 team in the Youth NBC

Six members of the Badenhorst and Barrett families have worn the Herts jersey over the years and fans of the club will be delighted to see them back.

For more details about joining the Herts youth baseball teams for the upcoming national youth baseball championships contact us.

Coach Monte Brooks is coming back to the UK to work with Herts players

Coach Monte Brooks is coming back to the UK to work with Herts players

In June 2019 the head coach of The Master’s University baseball team, Monte Brooks, was a special guest of Herts Baseball Club and Herts players had the unique opportunity of being coached by him.

He will be coming back to the UK and he will once again be working with the Herts adult and youth teams at the club’s two branches in Hemel Hempstead and in London. The two events which he will be taking part in are:

  • 6pm, Wednesday, 1 June, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 6pm, Thursday, 2 June, Basing Hill Ballpark, London

Brooks has just completed his 26th season as head coach of The Master’s University baseball team in the USA. He is the program’s all-time leader in wins with a record of 790-535. He has led the Mustangs to four NAIA World Series appearances (2000, 2013, 2016, 2017) and three regular-season GSAC titles.

As a player, Brooks was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1987 with whom he spent four seasons in the minor leagues and later coached in the Padres organisation before his appointment with Master’s University.

Players who have developed through The Master’s University have gone on to be drafted by MLB clubs. One of them is Conner Menez (pictured above) who was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Shortly after Coach Brooks’ visit to London in 2019, Menez made his MLB debut for the Giants where he played until last year. This season he was signed by the Chicago Cubs and with rumours going around that the 2023 MLB London Series will feature the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals, Herts fans may have the opportunity to see Menez in action at the London Stadium.

Coach Brooks’ area of expertise is working with hitters and infielders so his visit to the club is a fantastic opportunity for players from the various Herts teams.

The sessions are open to all current Herts members as well as new players who are considering joining the club. If you are not a current club member and wish to take part in one of these sessions, please contact us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herts youth baseball teams to work with GB National Team coaches and players

Herts youth baseball teams to work with GB National Team coaches and players

Herts Baseball Club will be hosting the Great Britain National Teams as they prepare for international competition later this year.

As part of this, Herts youth players will have the unique opportunity to work with the GB U18 players and coaches over the next few weeks.

There will be three sessions as follows:

  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 23 April 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 7 May 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
  • 11:00-13:00, Saturday, 21 May 2022, Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead

Note: Dates and times may be subject to change due to weather or other factors. For the May 21st event, if the construction of Basing Hill Ballpark is not completed by this date, the event will be moved to Grovehill Ballpark.

The last time Great Britain National Team coaches and players worked with Herts youth players was in 2008 (pictured above).

This is a good opportunity for any new players – boys and girls aged 6 to 14 – to come to one of these sessions and try baseball to help them decide if they would like to join the Herts youth baseball teams for the upcoming league season. Each session is expected to be around 2 hours and 30 minutes long.

New players who are not current members of the Herts youth teams can book their place for one of these sessions by completing this form.

Countdown to HSL – first chance to see the teams ahead of the 2022 British baseball season

Countdown to HSL – first chance to see the teams ahead of the 2022 British baseball season

The biggest pre-season baseball competition in Britain is back. Commencing on March 19, the Herts Spring League (HSL) will see 19 teams compete over the 3 weeks of the HSL. Organised by Herts Baseball Club, it is Britain’s version of MLB’s Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues currently under way in the US, and it signals that the season is just around the corner.

Format

The 19 teams will be entered into three HSL tiers – NBL, Double-A and Single-A.

The organisers considered the possibility of a tournament format, but ultimately adopted a league format in the same way as the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB. “The objective of the HSL is to enable the teams to prepare for the new season and we have noticed that teams are increasingly starting to approach the HSL in the same way as MLB teams approach the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues” said HSL Commissioner, Aspi Dimitrov. He added “we have taken this into account when formulating the schedule putting greater emphasis on the preferences and preparatory requirements of the teams over the format of the competition”.

The teams finishing at the top of their respective division will be the HSL champions.

The Venue

The action will take place on the two diamonds at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, the home of Herts Baseball Club.

Schedule

Over the three weekends 40 games are scheduled to be played on the two diamonds. The competition begins on March 19 with a morning clash on Diamond 1 between the London Metros and the Essex Redbacks in the HSL NBL division. At the same time on Diamond 2, there is a Double-A clash between the Croydon Pirates and the London Musketeers.

The Herts Raptors are the first Herts team in action on that day as they meet the Mustangs. The first opportunity to see the Herts Cardinals’ first ever game will be on Sunday, 20 March, when they will meet ACS Cougars and the Sidewinders.

Alongside the deciding HSL games on the final day (April 3), Grovehill Ballpark will host the NBL Opening Day doubleheader between the Lancashire Legends and newly promoted BC Vetra who won the Triple-A National Championship last year.

Click to view full 2022 HSL schedule

Youth Baseball Open Days

In addition to the games, there will be three Youth Baseball Open Sessions for any boys and girls aged 6 to 14 who are not members of a baseball club at the moment. This is a good opportunity for them to try baseball at no cost. Each session is 2 hours long.

For more details and to book a place, please complete this form.

Excitement building up

The Herts Spring League adds a competitive edge to Spring training. It’s the time for managers to work out their winning formula going into the BBF league season. It is an opportunity to evaluate existing and newly recruited players. Which players will earn a spot in the pitching rotation and who will be batting where in the batting order? Who will make the first team and who will have to work their way up with the minor league teams? Not forgetting, it’s a chance to size up your rivals for the year ahead. It’s the first big challenge and the first big excitement of the baseball year. Don’t miss it.

Get in the Game

Players, from beginners to advanced, are now registering for the 2022 baseball season. For more details about how to join the Herts baseball teams in Hemel Hempstead and in NW London or for more details about the HSL or if you are interested to give baseball a try in this competition contact Herts Baseball Club.

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.