If youâ€™ve been keeping an eye on the BaseballSoftballUK/British Baseball Federation websites recently, and Iâ€™m sure you have, youâ€™ll know that there has been a fair bit of news around the British game of late.
BBF Annual General Meeting
The 2011 BBF Annual General Meeting took place in Birmingham on Sunday 13 February and the BSUK website already includes a useful round-up from the day (with formal minutes to come in due course).Â Despite giving people decent notice, not every interested party will be able to attend the event each year and a swift summary such as this is a great way to keep everyone informed while the AGM is still fresh in the mind.
The two main presentations, aside from the usual formalities of budgets, elections and constitution amendments, focused on the development of baseball in Britain and the upcoming launch of the new BSUK website.
BBF Development Official James Pearce took the lead on the former and his presentation provides a good summary of the work that has been undertaken in recent years and how that will shape the programme for 2011 and beyond.Â The priorities for this year are:
- Umpire developmentÂ and formal agreement
- North regional focus
- Facility grants for field improvement
- Development of competition opportunities
- University integration
- Development of coaches association
- Player transfer regulation
- Federation organisation development
Although these priorities are not necessarily listed in order of importance, itâ€™s interesting to see umpire development not only top of the list, but already accompanied by some specific measures designed to support this.
Not least is the news that each team will be required to send two members to an umpiring course.Â As my recent review of Bruce Weberâ€™s book As They See â€˜Em noted, umpiring can seem a thankless task at times, but good umpiring is essential to the smooth running, and enjoyment, of any game.Â Itâ€™s possible that some teams may have to do some encouraging to get people to volunteer, but itâ€™s a worthy endeavour and BSUKâ€™s decision to sponsor attendance is a good sign of their commitment to it.
We should be able to read details about umpiring development, as well as all other British baseball and softball news, on some brand new websites in the very near future.Â The current BSUK/BBF websites have served a purpose for a number of years, but I think itâ€™s fair to say that they are due for a complete refresh and thatâ€™s exactly what they are about to get courtesy of Sport NGIN.
Sport NGIN specialises in sports websites and Jason Greenbergâ€™s presentation shows that the new sites will have plenty of functionality that managers, players and fans will be able to exploit.Â The Post Oak Little League website provides an example of how key information such as league standings, schedules andÂ team pages can be displayed in a simple but professional-looking way, while there is plenty of scope to add to the basics that BSUK are likely to take full advantage of.
15 March is the intended launch date so the websites should be ready for action in good time for the new season.
â€œShow diamondâ€ venue survives the cursed Coalition cuts
Also noted at the AGM was the news that plans to build some new baseball and softball facilities will go ahead despite the seemingly inescapable spending cuts snatching away Â£110k of the original Â£400k grant.
At the heart of the proposals is an exciting baseball facility to be built in the Thames Valley that will include a â€œshow diamondâ€, offering the potential of a smart venueÂ for current baseball converts to enjoy and toÂ encourage more people to take an interest in the game .Â A computer-generated image of the diamond is included in the BSUK news story.
The disappointing news is that plans to build a facility in the north have had to be put on hold, but some smaller grants should be available to help clubs develop existing venues.
Cambridge Royals to compete in the AA-South
There was some excellent news for baseball in the East of England last week with the formation of a new Cambridge Royals club.
While Essex is home to several hard-working teams and Hertfordshire contains the progressive Herts Baseball Club, baseball has been relatively scarce in other counties in the area recently, with the United States Air Force Mildenhall Bulldogs teams being the only BBF competitors from the Norfolk/Suffolk/Cambridgeshire area last year.
That will change in 2011 thanks to the new Cambridge club.Â They will follow in the line of the original Royals, Knights, and Monarchs who represented the city from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s.Â If you live in the area and have been waiting for baseball to return, or to arrive if you werenâ€™t there the first time, more information and contact details can be found in the BBF news story.
When Saturday Comes?
While weâ€™re on the wonderful, winter-defeating subject of playing baseball, itâ€™s possible that some more league games may be played on Saturdays this year.Â The BBF registration process has just opened and this includes a request for teams to indicate if they would be willing to play a day earlier than usual. There are advantages and disadvantages to both Saturday and Sunday.Â The natural assumption would be that people are likely to have less commitments and other diversions on Sundays than Saturdays.Â It’s well worth asking the question though asÂ switching to a Saturday for some gamesÂ might suit some teams.
Life membership for Joe Gray
Finally, there was one item on the BBF AGM agenda that I didnâ€™t note above because it deserved it’s own space.Â Our own Joe Gray was awarded Life Membership of the BBF for his hard work and dedication in his various roles as the Chair of Electors for the British Baseball Hall of Fame, the founder of the Project for the Chronicling of British Baseball (Project Cobb) and his work with the Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association.
Warm congratulations to Joe for this very well-deserved honour.Â Donâ€™t forget that his first book, â€œWhat about the Villa?: Forgotten figures from Britainâ€™s pro baseball league of 1890â€³, is now available.