Baseball in the UK: What’s New in British Baseball?

It feels like British baseball is in for a pretty pivotal year in 2023. The GB national team is competing on the world stage, the London Series resumes after a pandemic-enforced break, and the British Baseball Federation (BBF) is seeking to capture all the ensuing enthusiasm to grow the game in the UK.

The early signs are good; a new development plan sets out a bold ambition for the future, and a revamp of the BBF website makes things clearer for those that are keen to get involved in America’s pastime.

However, the challenge is getting people involved and keeping them involved once they’ve had an initial taste of the sport. That doesn’t necessarily mean playing baseball, which is why the BBF has put a strong emphasis on coaching and umpiring over the offseason. 

There’s also a need to cut through the occasional snobbery which can hang around American sports in this country. Whether it’s the NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL, fans can look down on the British equivalents, sneering at the quality of play, the facilities or both. There’s no easy fix for this, but reaching a new generation of fans and potential participants is surely at the heart of it.

To help reach those fans and to elevate the British game for those who already play, the BBF has made a number of changes for the 2023 season. A number of clubs have also made changes themselves, including a brave reach into the monetisation of the game in this country.

So, what’s new…?

The Summer Cup

Tournaments are nothing new to baseball in the UK. Weekend events such as the Battle for Britain and the Herts Summer League are well-established and a key part of the calendar. But that hasn’t stopped the BBF from going all in to sell their new Summer Cup.

Taking place across the 22 & 23 July, the tournament will see 24 teams competing across three levels. It’s a great opportunity for teams to play on the professional quality fields at Farnham Park, and there’s nothing like the round-robin format to up the ante.

The BBF is marketing the competition as one of the key events on the baseball calendar, alongside the World Baseball Classic and the London Series. Whilst it won’t draw the spectator numbers that the other two will, it’s certainly being held in a spectator-friendly location and in a way that should make it a great weekend for the players taking part. 

Umpire Courses

Grassroots officiating is such an interesting area across every sport. It is incredible that football manages to keep so many officials, despite the relentless chatter they get every Saturday, and umpiring is always a little dubious at the village cricket level. 

Baseball in the UK faces a different issue altogether… simply finding umpires to officiate games every Sunday. The BBF has recognised this, and they’re opening up a new pathway to get potential umpires accredited. 

In reality, this probably means that clubs will now nominate players to take the relevant courses rather than there being a sudden influx of non-affiliated umpires. However, that’s not a bad thing. More qualified representatives mean more confidence in officiating, better quality games and a route for invested individuals to stay involved in the game for longer.


At the heart of the snobbery around the British game is that the quality isn’t up to scratch. Well, the only way to fix that is through good-quality coaching. It’s clear that the UK setup is doing something right in this regard, as former GB Head Coach Liam Carroll secured an MiLB role in the Boston Red Sox organisation this off-season.

In the BBF’s vision statement for 2035, there’s a semi-pro league in the UK, regional championships at all levels and a successful women’s setup. All that starts with coaching, which is why a number of regional coaching courses are already scheduled in different parts of England for March.

Like the umpiring path, it is likely that most of those signing up for the initial courses will be existing players – but this is exactly who the BBF should be targeting. There’s already a hugely dedicated network of individuals who are running sessions across the country; giving them the ability to improve themselves and their teams is simply common sense.

Herts Paid Admission

Here’s where it gets interesting!

Herts Baseball Club will become the first to charge admission to regular season games in the National Baseball League. It’s a brave move, and the announcement attracted some negativity on Twitter [Editor’s note: Negativity on Twitter. Surely not?] but ultimately, it feels like a step in the right direction for the British game.

As part of their long-term plan for the club, Herts want to improve the gameday experience for those watching whilst undoubtedly looking for creative ways to boost club revenue. The club have stuck their neck out by doing this, and they have not announced pricing for games yet. However, if attendances are reasonable, then the model could be adopted by other teams.

One of the main issues with running a club in the UK is costs. Specifically the cost of hiring facilities for training and games. There are, of course, grants available, but naturally, these come with conditions attached to them, and clubs are often competing against hundreds of other sporting organisations for the money that’s available. So what if clubs could rely on the income that isn’t solely generated from their own players? 

This move opens the first crack in the door towards the aforementioned semi-professional league. It offers a chance for a small financial reimbursement for the best players in the UK, and it offers a revenue stream which could improve an already good facility.

Herts should be applauded for taking this step… to loosely quote an excellent film, ‘let’s see if it pays off for them’.

New Clubs

A grand total of 61 clubs have registered to play under the BBF umbrella this year, an increase on last year. More clubs will always be a positive, and it’s excellent to see the newcomers spread across the UK – from Cornwall through to Edinburgh. 

The new clubs include the Truro Blue Jays, the New Forest Thunder Knights, the Stockton Grizzlies and the Edinburgh Rays. All are intending to play in different leagues in 2023, and from their social media profiles, all seem to be engaging their local community in a positive manner.

There’s no doubt a whole host of people out there considering playing ball this year. With more clubs than ever before in the UK… what are you waiting for?

Obviously, there’s a lot more going on at individual clubs with the season just around the corner. If you’re playing or volunteering at a club, then we’d love to hear more about that, along with other stories from the British game… reach out, and let’s grow the game together!

Featured image of Herts Cardinals at Bournemouth Bears by Andy Moore. 

Andy Moore is the Bat Flips & Nerds Blue Jays correspondent, as well as our man-with-his-ear-to-the-ground for everything related to the domestic game in the UK. You can follow Andy on Twitter @Ajmoore21

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