The British Baseball Federation (BBF) today announced detailsÂ regardingÂ the 2016 National Baseball League (NBL).
There will be seven teams in the top tierÂ of British baseball this year. They include five previous participants – the reigning champion London Mets, beaten 2015 finalists Southampton Mustangs, Essex Arrows, Herts Falcons and South London Pirates – plus two new teams who will hope to live up to the history of clubs that have represented their respective places with distinction in the past.
The Brighton Jets (previously Bulldogs) are moving up a level fromÂ Triple-A and bringing top-tier baseball back to Brighton since the glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Brighton Buccaneers won three national titles (1999, 2001 and 2002) to put themselves just behind the very elite four teams (Cobham Yankees, Hull Aces, Liverpool Tigers and London Warriors) to have won four national championships.
The club has decided to mark their return to the premier class byÂ taking on the original Jets name used by Brighton baseball back in their debutÂ campaign of 1962. Whilst the team may take 2016 as a year of gettingÂ reacquainted to this level, they will be intent on adding more national titles to the Brighton club’s history in the years ahead.
The other newÂ entrants areÂ the 2015 beaten Triple-A finalists the London Metros, who areÂ moving on up to the top class and moving out to Enfield.
The Metros had an outstanding 2015 season, finishing the season with a perfect 22-0 record, only to suffer heartbreak in the National Championship final at the hands of the Cambridge Royals for the second year in succession.
They will be moving to Enfield as part of their promotion to the NBL and, whilst the team is still considering ideas for their new name, the prospect of top-tier baseball in the area can’t help but call to mind the Enfield Spartans team from years past.
Just like the Brighton Buccaneers, the Spartans captured three national championships during their existence and are one of only three teams in modern British baseball history to achieve this by way ofÂ three consecutiveÂ titles (1989, 1990 andÂ 1991 – the other two teams being the Cobham Yankees in 1986-1988 and the recent Southern/Harlow Nationals of 2011-2013).
What is especially encouraging about the 2016 NBL entrants list is that all of the seven teams will be developing (and/or enhancing) junior programmes during the season.
Whilst it’s great to look back at teams from the past, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the present and future looks bright for British baseball too.
For more details on previous National Champions, take a look at the archives accessible on the Project COBB website.