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British Baseball Beat: 2019 Preparations

by Matt Smith

As MLB teams look ahead to starting Spring Training games this week, so baseball clubs across the British Isles continue with their 2019 season preparations on and off the field.

Here are a few notes from around the leagues (I’ll write a separate blog about the recent GB baseball funding news in the next few days).

Irish British Baseball Cup

Pretty much every comment about British baseball this year can be framed in the context of the publicty benefits that the MLB London Series will bring. The more events that can be put on the better and the BBF have started well with the inaugural Irish British Baseball Cup.

The event will see reigning Irish Baseball champions the Dublin City Hurricanes travelling to Farnham Park to take on the reigning NBL champions the London Mets to open the season on Saturday 6 April.

Those unable to make it to Farnham can watch live (or on-demand) via the impressive BBF YouTube live stream game coverage. It will be interesting to see how the two teams stack up against each other, albeit for practical reasons just in a single nine-inning game.

The fact that the game will come barely a week after our supposed Brexit date may add a little more to the mix, hopefully in a positive publicity way in a British/EU coming-together rather than negative publicity in it being called off with our beloved Government not letting EU nationals in!

BBF Leagues

We can be certain that the London Mets will be defending their NBL crown once again, but we’ll be waiting a little while longer to see how the rest of the clubs and leagues will shape up as plans and fixture lists are put together following the 31 January BBF registration deadline.

We do know that the ever-progressive Herts Baseball Club took a Luniz approach to their submission by putting five on it.

(Pop culture aside: I remember that song coming out in 1995 and in looking it up for this reference realise that, in all my youthful naivety, I was completely oblivious to what the song was about!).

We knew Herts had plans to launch a new club in North West London and it turns out that not only will the Herts Londoners be bringing Triple-A baseball to their Basing Hill Ballpark, but the Herts Eagles name will be back in British baseball and offering Single-A baseball there too. That’s great news and provide yet another route for people in the capital inspired by the London Series to give baseball a go.

3 is a magic number for Bristol

Bristol are another club expanding for 2019

Bristol Badgers made it to the Double-A BBF final last year as well as fielding the Bats team in the indepenent South West Baseball League. The latter will be joined by Bristol Buccaneers in 2019 after a successful winter recruitment campaign.

Leeds Rams

Elsewhere we’re seeing some new baseball clubs forming. Leeds has hosted some excellent teams over the years and a new one is now being born as the Leeds Rams. They made an announcement a few weeks ago that they would be holding off from entering full league play in 2019 to build up for 2020.

It’s an approach that worked really well for Norwich Iceni Baseball, who registered with the BBF in 2016 to play friendly games before entering the league competition in 2017 and having a perfect season whilst capturing the Single-A title.

We’ve all seen many promising baseball clubs come and go over the years and there can be a lot of value in having some fixture flexibility in your first year as you build the foundations for a new team. Here’s hoping 2019 goes well for Leeds Rams and they charge into full league competition in 2020.

Sponsorship news

Funding and publicity is always such a big part of amateur sport so we should all be supportive of teams and leagues trying to increase both as part of our community.

Hull Scorpions are currently seeking sponsorship for their field:

Whilst Baseball Scotland have added a sponsor for 2019.

Kent’s Field of Dreams

Baseball facility improvements are also a vital part of growing our sport, benefitting both the local community and all teams that get to vist and share the facilities too.

Based on their Twitter updates, teams visiting Kent’s will enjoy their day out regardless of the game result.

News to share?

If your club any news to highlight, or wants to take part in some potential YouTube livestream chats during the upcoming season, let me know on Twitter (@mattbaseballgb) or using the Get In Contact form.

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