Haverhill’s first baseball club has begun training ahead of its debut season.
Haverhill Blackjacks Baseball Club has been set up by Steve Esdale, and had its first training session with the Cambridge Royals at Bottisham Village College on Sunday.
Games will be played at the New Croft at midday on Sundays, the campaign expected to run from mid April to July.
The Blackjacks are now the only baseball club in Suffolk to offer adult baseball (for over 14s) in the British Baseball Federation (BBF) A League.
The side will compete in the A league (the highest is NBL, followed by AAA, AA and A), and though leagues are yet to be confirmed they will likely line up against Waltham Abbey, Enfield, Richmond, Tonbridge and other sides along the M25 corridor.
Esdale established the Blackjacks to continue his baseball interest after the Braintree Rays, the side he played and coached at for eight years, folded last April.
“After being a part of Rays for so long I felt that this was an ideal time to start something that could be beneficial for Haverhill, the surrounding area and, more importantly, those who are interested in taking it up,” he said.
“Most people don’t realise that baseball is available in the UK or how easy it is to get in to.
“At baseball’s base level it is just hitting, catching and throwing a baseball as well as running the bases.
“It’s similar to rounders and even more so to softball, both of which are commonplace nowadays.”
“From the moment I saw it on TV I was hooked – I saw a couple of games nearby and thought I might as well give it a go.
“Since then I’ve gone from someone who couldn’t field, throw or hit a ball, or run, to a skilled player in a variety of positions with a large knowledge base of the tactics of baseball, although I’m still learning about the game even now.”
Esdale has been impressed with take up so far, with around 15 people wanting to be a part of the team.
He is also planning to link it with the AAA side Royals as a feeder club, giving promising players the chance to compete at a higher level while providing invaluable experience for some of their aspiring youngsters.
“We’ll hopefully get a few more players as a result of the link as those who think they won’t get game time for the Royals and come and play for the Blackjacks, but that will be as well as finding our own players.
“Ideally I would love to get a youth team going for age ten and upwards, and to develop more youth teams.”
Anyone interested in playing for the Blackjacks should contact Esdale at email@example.com or in the evening on 01440 704049 or 07811 030564.
For all the latest sport see Thursday’s (January 17) Echo.