The Herts Spring League made a successful debut last year and it is set to be even better second time around in 2009.Â Thirteen teams will compete at threeÂ venues to prepare for the British regular season this year.Â The games will take place atÂ Herts, Richmond and HarlowÂ over three Sundays, from 29 March to 12 April, bringing together teams from various parts of Southern England.Â
The Spring League Structure
The HSL is split into two pools and the lineup provides a useful introduction to some of the teams in the Southern section of the British baseball leagues.Â
Pool 1 contains three teams with British AAA league experience in the Essex Arrows, the Southampton Mustangs and the Sidewinders, the latter being based in Enfield.Â The Herts Falcons will make the step up from AAA to the National Baseball League in ’09 and they will be part of Pool 1 alongside NBL regulars the Bracknell Blazers.
They will be joined by a new team called the Alconbury Braves.Â The Braves are a team comprised of US Army personnel from RAF Alconbury who are making their debut in the British Baseball Federation league this year.
Pool 2 contains two teams from the Herts Baseball Club organization (the Hawks and the Eagles), the Richmond Dragons, the Milton Keynes Bucks, the Braintree Rays and the Kent Mariners. The latter have previously been known as the Medway Mariners but have taken on a new name following the club’s merger with the Tonbridge Bobcats. The Bobcats have a proud history of developing young British talent, including Alex Malihoudis and Will Lintern,Â and hopefully pooling the resources of the two teams will see this continue.
Note that for one week only, Richmondâ€™s NBL team, the Flames, will play a one-off game against the Falcons with the result being added to the record of their sister team, the Dragons.
Introducing Harlow Baseball Club
The HSL will be a great way for current players and supporters of the Southern league teams to build up for the new season, butÂ itÂ should also play a part in encouraging more people to get involved with British baseball.Â This will particuarly be the caseÂ for the games held in Harlow, Essex.Â A successful youth baseball programme has been running in Harlow since 2005 and they are now looking to add an adult team to their set-up.Â Â WithÂ an impressive new baseball facility waiting to be used, as highlighted in aÂ recent articleÂ at BaseballSoftballUK.com, any baseball fan living in the area should be jumping at the chance to join such an exciting new venture.
More British baseball field improvements
Herts Baseball Club are also in the process of improvingÂ and expanding the facilities at theirÂ Grovehill Ballpark homeÂ thanks to support from the National Lottery and many other organisations and partners.Â The latest stage of this development has seen a brand new outfield fence being installed just a week ago, makingÂ Herts Baseball Club the first British club to have a permanent outfield fence on both its diamonds.
Our own Joe Gray recently reported this news at Mister-Baseball.com, the leading site covering baseball and softball throughout Europe, providing a full rundown on the work that has taken place and putting it into context with other facilities in the British Isles.
Be a part of British baseball
The Herts Spring LeagueÂ is a great addition to the British baseball calendar, being a very useful pre-season tournament.Â More broadly it provides a snapshot of the many positive stories coming out of the sport in this country.Â With new teams being born and new facilities being developed,Â now isÂ a good time to get involved.
For more information, visit the Herts Baseball Club website.