RICHMOND, LONDON - by Nicholas Hadley-Kamptz, Club President.
2012 will be a year of change and a year of evolution for Richmond Baseball and Softball Club.
We are celebrating the club's 20th anniversary this year and will mark this achievement both on and off the field throughout the season. As far as our research can tell, according to Project COBB, this puts Richmond tied as the third oldest club (based on continous league play) in the country after Liverpool Trojans, founded in 1946(!) and Essex Arrows, who began play in 1984. From one team founded by Wayne Nash in Fulham in 1992 to three league teams, a youth programme and two diamonds is a great evolution over two decades.
At the time of writing this we have 40 players fully registered for the 2012 season and just over 100 registered for our mailing list, but we hope that some of the latter will move to the former, however we're in very good shape at this stage of the year. All spots are up for grabs and if you're a returning veteran and haven't been to practice yet you should know we have a large and talented group of newcomers to the club fighting for spots across all teams. If you're new to the club, we're always open to new players!
For the 2012 season, the club has registered three teams in the British Baseball Federation's league system:
The Knights, playing in AAA South and managed by John Irving will be our top team this season. We have some returning players but several newcomers are in line for spots on the Knights, who open the season on Flood Field on April 15th with a double header against Bracknell/Windsor Bears. The Knights play 26 games over 13 weeks, 2x7 inning double headers on Sundays. The Knights are now a year removed from their phenomenal season in AA and with better luck with injuries and a larger squad, the Knights should be contenders in 2012!
The Dragons, managed by myself, will play for the second year in AA South. We had a good sized squad last year and while we have many veterans returning we are looking for some key additions to make the team even more competitive. With the club heavily supporting movement within the club, some players could be promoted to the Knights while some veterans might be asked to provide leadership for the Single A team. The Dragons saw some outstanding contributions last year but there is still room for significant improvement. AA play a combination of double headers and single 9 inning games and the Dragons will play 19 games over 13 weeks. The Dragons open on the road at Herts Hawks on April 15th with a single 9 inning game.
The Dukes, our newly added team, will play in Single A South and play single 9 inning games in a 10 week schedule, plus most likely some additional in-season friendlies. Very similar to the launch of the Dragons in 2003, the Dukes will contain a mix of veterans and newcomers, both new to the club and new to the sport. The committee are looking for an experienced player interested in managing the team, or possible a small group of veterans sharing the role. The Dukes, like the Dragons, open away to Herts, playing a 9 inning game on April 15th against Herts Raptors.
Unfortunately a perfect storm of player retirements, coach and player departures and a less than optimum recruitment strategy for our elite team has led to the committee taking the decision, in co-operation with the remaining players from last years squad, to not enter a Flames team into the National League for 2012. To do so would create a very stretched structure and roster set-up across all teams in the club and would not be a positive step forward for the organisation. However, the club management is committed to returning to the top tier in British Baseball as soon as possible. The club decided to not use the nickname Flames for a team in the lower divisions but are looking forward to seeing Richmond Flames back in the National League!
Despite this setback, 2012 is looking to be a banner year for the club, both in club development on and off the field. We are in the process of significantly improve our playing facilities, including a new backstop with dugouts for Connare Field, a floodlit batting cage setup with multiple cages and pitching machines replacing the current batting cage. We will also try to implement significant improvements for Flood Field.
The club will also continue with our successful Youth Programme, led by our Director of Player Development Gerry Perez. We will run Saturday clinics for children throughout August and all club member are encouraged to help Gerry and the other coaches during the programme. Details will follow later.
Our club is only as good as the members involved. As I wrote above, we're looking for a team management group for the Dukes. In addition, John and I will look to appoint Assistant Managers/Coaches for the Knights and Dragons to help run each team. Finally, we're looking to increase the size of the club committee.
The current committee consists of seven members across the club - you can see the committee members and more detailed bios on our committee page. However, we are in the process of losing one member due to relocation and the rest of the committee is looking not only for a replacement but also for more members to participate in club managment in various roles, including sponsorship, media and PR. If you are interested, please contact anyone in the committee.
We will have our AGM prior to the start of the season to set out the goals and plans for the year on and off the field.
The club is also working with the BBF in improving the experience level of club members. Part of the BBF's plan to grow not only the size of the sport but also the quality and experience of the participants will mean that all clubs will be required to have certain number of certified coaches and umpires in the club.
Our relationship and co-operation with Kew and Ham Sports Association has reached a record high and we will continue to use the club house for after training and match day drinks and other social events. K&H are very active in running the entire facility, not just for football but also for adult and youth baseball and we hope to be able to build on the relationship.
Ultimately, this could be a banner year for the club, but we need YOU to participate.
I look forward to seeing you all over the coming weeks and months.