Tag: KD12

A last goodbye…

We all love the game of baseball, writes Rob Jones. But like most sports, perhaps its greatest value is to bring us to like-minded individuals who also love the game of baseball. And then, by sharing it with them, our experience is enriched ten-fold.

That is where we come to Kal Dimitrov. However much fun I have had playing baseball over the past 12 years, it was always made better by having Kal there.

Kal in action at the Hunlock Series, 2009

Until the moment when we suddenly lost him on Sunday July 5th, he had been his ebullient self, encouraging, joking, cajoling, and always giving his all for his team-mates. That is how we must remember him, although the shock of his passing will stay with us all for a very long time. For his family, it will never go away.

I joined Herts baseball club in 2003, after following the game for a couple of years and thinking that even a skinny dude like me could give this a go. Kal Dimitrov and his brother Aspi were already there. It seemed to me that they were veterans at the heart of the club, but in fact they had arrived only the year before. Perhaps that shows the impact his presence had.

Kal was welcoming and friendly. It was one of his gifts that he would treat you in exactly the same way if he had just met you, or if you were a life-long friend. There was no reserve; you never felt there was a hierarchy, an inner circle you had to break into.

His openness was a quality of great benefit for the youth players, who immediately took to him. And for new adult recruits. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who didn’t immediately take to Kal.

He encouraged me in my baseball endeavours, as he did so many others. He would always support you on a bad day, and reward you on a good one.

Kal himself tended not to play at the very highest level of the club. And he might give you the impression that, well, he was just a chancer, a journeyman. Yes, maybe he might admit that he had a few baseball chops, but he’d insist that really he was just out there busking it.

In fact, he played one of the toughest positions, as catcher, and did it consistently well. I have tried it myself a bit this season, and he was one of the players I had learned from.

And he could instantly and correctly tell when you were swinging too early, or failing to snap your wrist on the throw, or fielding too shallow to give yourself time. Or that you had overrun a fly ball, a slightly random memory I know I once related in this column.

Even amateur baseball players can be pretty precious about themselves. But when he gave you these tips, you never prickled at criticism. Instead, you knew you were being helped.  The notion of anybody being offended or irritated by Kal’s advice seems absurd to the point of being laughable.

I have played with the Raptors or Eagles at the Single-A level for some time now, happy to take part in the handful of games my life allows, and happy to coach new guys who have just started baseball. For most of those years, we have been trying to get Kal to come and manage the team as we knew he was perfect for the job.
In 2015 he proved that we were right, and I can be forever grateful that I had the chance to work so closely alongside him this year as his co-manager. To be honest, he did all the hard work, because he was the powerhouse and the life-force. I was just his glamorous assistant.

Although I knew almost immediately I would need to write my own tribute to Kal — it is, after all, what I do — I have been putting it off. Partly that is because of the same finality which hurts us when we lose someone too soon.

Until that moment, there is always more you can do for that person and with that person, and more chances to let them know you love them. Similarly, with this, you always hope that a better phrase will come to you, a better memory to encapsulate what someone did for you.

But it is now time to move on, while always treasuring those memories. We must get back to the game of baseball which we love, and which brought us together in the first place.

It is hard to imagine that I will never again get to be at the ballpark with Kal. But I can feel blessed that I ever got the chance at all. Kal Dimitrov was one of the finest people you could ever hope to meet. We will miss him dreadfully.

A Farewell to a Friend

Herts players past and present have joined members of the wider British baseball community to say an emotional goodbye to Kal Dimitrov.

The Raptors co-manager — who had served the club as a player, coach and official for more than a decade — passed away suddenly after collapsing during a league game last week. Beyond all of his formal roles with the club, he had been an inspiration and a friend.

On Saturday 11th of July, a memorial was held on the field at Grovehill in Hemel Hempstead. A floral tribute had been made featuring his number 12 — which has become the symbol of a week of both mourning and celebration for Herts. The number, and other images from Kal’s time at Herts, were posted around the diamond. During the ceremony, Kal’s number was retired.

All of those who attended laid baseball shirts and caps on the diamond as a tribute to their lost family member. Dozens and dozens of shirts fanned out from home plate towards the pitchers mound.

Some of them were small — youth shirts to show the crucial role which Kal had played in creating and expanding the successful Herts Little League project. Since it was set up, it has guided several players into the GB team, and has provided fun and camaraderie for many more.

And they were not all Herts shirts. Players who had battled against Kal Dimitrov in vital matches now came to pay their respects to him. Players from Richmond, Guildford, Brentwood, London Mets, Southern Nationals, Bracknell, Kent, Daws Hill, LYBL, Milton Keynes Bucks, Sidewinders and the Essex Redbacks were among those who came to lay their shirts down too. The Essex Archers were there, players who had been caught up in the tragic events of last Sunday.

There had been messages of support from around the world. London Mets players in Kutno in Poland had held a minute’s silence, and paid a further tribute on Saturday.  The former Falcons manager Jason Greenberg had sent his shirt from the US. And the former Texas Rangers catcher, Pudge Rodriguez — who had been told about Kal’s passing — said his prayers and thoughts were with all at Herts.

shirts laid out for Kal Dimitrov

Bruce Dullea began the tributes at Grovehill. The one-time Falcons manager, who now has a son pitching in the youth teams, spoke of how the club had flourished in the years when Kal — together with his brother Aspi — had been the driving forces. “As a tribute and legacy to Kal”, he said, “each of us must do whatever we can, either big or small, to continue to promote the game in this country”.

He concluded: “I’ve always believed that it’s not the number of days we’re on earth, but the impact we make upon others.  Kal’s impact was immense”.

Rod Naghar of the Herts Hawks has known both Dimitrov brothers since their university days, twenty years ago. He shared his memories of Kal, and raised a smile of recognition as he described how he could be seen, shirtless, phone clamped to his ear, watering the diamond before a game.

But Rod also recalled Kal’s diligence, his boundless knowledge, and his caring manner. “He inspired me as he was an inspiration to us all. His sunshine lit up our lives, his unbounded generosity, kindness and good humour touched us all.”

“Kal was taken from us too soon, but he will always be remembered and forever in our hearts”, he added. Jo Cornish read a poem,  and there was a minute’s applause from the crowd at 12 minutes past 12. 

The Dimitrov brothers look at the tributes

The Southampton Mustangs pay tribute at the game in Bracknell

As players took their chance to look at the tributes, there was then a surprise final speaker. Aspi Dimitrov took the mic to thank everyone for their support and their messages. In an emotional address, he said he would miss his brother in a million ways, right down to the mundane activity of watching television together — “watching television with Kal”, he remarked to laughter, “was different”.

Their brother Ilya was also present, along with their father and his wife. The Dimitrov’s shirts had received pride of place laid out at home plate – Kal’s 12, Aspi’s 4, Ilya’s 21 and now their father’s 48.

The BBF had kindly agreed to postpone all Herts league games which were due to have taken place this past weekend. On Sunday, a minute’s silence or a minute’s applause was observed at many games around the country — including in Liverpool, Hull, Leicester and at the Newton Aycliffe Spartans.

In a further statement on Sunday, Aspi Dimitrov said his family had been deeply touched by the affection which had been shown for Kal, and the solidarity from the baseball community.

The club intends to wear number 12 patches on its shirt-sleeves for the remainder of this year’s league games, and will decide on a permanent memorial to Kal in due course.


Message from Aspi Dimitrov

Following this weekend’s events remembering Kal Dimitrov, his brother, Aspi Dimitrov, asked Herts Baseball Club to publish a message on behalf of the Dimitrov family:

My family is deeply touched by the affection and respect shown for my brother and my family.

We are grateful to everyone at Herts Baseball Club for organising and hosting Saturday’s memorial event. This was the most fitting way to say goodbye to Kal.

We are overwhelmed by the support we have received from team mates, family members and fans of Herts Baseball Club, friends and business associates.

I also want to express our gratitude to the wider baseball community. The solidarity shown by the British Baseball Federation, the Great Britain National Team, teams around the leagues, players and friends in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, has been overwhelming. We are grateful for the support of the whole baseball family.

It makes us very proud that so many see the things we love about Kal.

He achieved a great deal in his personal and professional life, in baseball and in other areas of his life. Projects and initiatives which he was involved in will go on.

Thank you for your kindness and support.

Aspi Dimitrov

A Tribute to Kal

Kal and Herts players at the Hawks v Raptors derby, June 2015

The members of Herts Baseball Club — and the wider British baseball community — will come together on Saturday for a memorial to our team-mate and friend Kal Dimitrov.

Kal, who was 43, passed away suddenly last Sunday after being taken ill during a league game.

On Saturday, everyone is invited to gather at our Grovehill ballpark in Hemel Hempstead from 11 o’clock. This is the chance for people both inside and outside the club to send their love to his family, and to say goodbye to Kal.

At 12 minutes past 12, there is to be one minute’s applause in celebration of his life — both his enormous contribution to British baseball and his place in our hearts.

Kal’s number 12 jersey will be retired at the memorial. We ask for everyone who comes along to bring a baseball shirt if they can, so these can be laid out to cover the diamond in tribute. These may be Herts jerseys, or from any other club.

Herts has been touched by the response from across the baseball family to Kal’s sudden passing.  There have been messages of support from Plymouth to Liverpool, Southampton to Oldham — as well as from the Essex Archers, who were caught up in Sunday’s tragic events.

The Dimitrov family has been particularly moved by tributes from youth players who had been welcomed and encouraged by Kal when they joined Herts. They described him as a great mentor and a true friend, and said they would always consider Kal a family member.

He was never part of the formal set-up of the Little League, but worked incredibly hard to make it a success and his warmth and enthusiasm was crucial.

A book of condolence will be available to sign on Saturday. Friends who were alongside Kal for his 13 years at Grovehill will share some of their memories.

Food will be available, and people should feel free to bring along drinks or other refreshments. This is a desperately sad occasion for us all, but our aim is to remember and celebrate someone whose warmth, humour and friendship provide our strongest memories.

We understand that you will not all be able to make it, but we also know that you will think of Kal wherever you are.

The memorial for Kal Dimitrov will start from 11am at Grovehill Ballpark, Washington Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 6NH

Hemel Hempstead



Kal Dimitrov 1971-2015


It is with enormous sadness that Herts Baseball Club has to announce the loss of one of our family. Kal Dimitrov passed away on Sunday afternoon after he was taken ill suddenly during a game at the Essex Archers.

Over the course of more than a decade, Kal was a catcher, coach, umpire and manager for several Herts teams. This year, he had been co-manager of the Herts Raptors in the Single-A league. He had also done invaluable work behind the scenes with club organisation, and with the growing youth leagues.

But more than all of that, Kal Dimitrov was a dearly-loved friend to us. His character, humour and spirit lifted every baseball occasion, and he inspired and encouraged countless players. We will miss him dreadfully.

Our thoughts are with Kal’s family, including his brothers Aspi and Ilya who also have such a place at the heart of our baseball club.

On Saturday, we ask anyone who knew Kal to come down to Grovehill ballpark in Hemel Hempstead any time from 11 o’clock for ceremonies to retire his number 12 shirt at 12 noon. We will hold a minute’s applause at 12:12 as we remember the smile he brought to the game. Please bring a baseball shirt – Herts or any other — so we can lay them out on the diamond as a tribute. 

The BBF has kindly agreed to postpone all Herts baseball games due to take place this weekend  – the Raptors at the Mariners; the Hawks at the Bucks; the Eagles against the Knights; and the Falcons against the Essex Arrows.

In the long term, the club is pledged to provide a fitting memorial to someone who gave us all so much.