Maybe you've seen Major League Baseball in America played on television, with those big stadiums, colourful uniforms, pitchers throwing the ball at 90 mph and batters hitting it 400 feet!
Well, in Britain, we don't have the big stadiums -- though we do now have our own dedicated baseball centre at Farnham Park near Slough, opened in July 2013 -- and pitchers and batters here are not quite so scary. But we do have baseball clubs all around the country with adult teams (primarily men but women are also welcome) and with youth teams at different age levels. These teams play in leagues that range from social and recreational to very competitive, and most clubs will welcome new players and teach them the game.
There are also Regional and National Academies for youth baseball players, open to anyone aged 10-25 who wants to attend. You can find dates and details in the Events section on the BSUK website or on the Academy Page.
The 2014 baseball season has now started, so the emphasis is on playing rather than recruiting or training. But many clubs still run open training sessions where new players are welcome, and these are listed below.
We will add to this list as we get more information, so re-visit this page from time to time.
The following clubs are running open training sessions during the 2015 winter off-season where new players are welcome:
KENT MARINERS BASEBALL CLUB is looking for players of all abilities to join them for the upcoming season, playing in the BBF's Single-A South Division. The team has begun indoor training on Sundays from 6:45-8:15 pm at Aylesford School Sports College, Teapot Lane, Aylesford, ME20 7JU to prepare for the pre-season Herts Spring League in March and then the regular BBF season beginning in April.
Indoor training sessions are focused on the basic mechanics of catching, throwing and hitting. Anyone interested in attending can sign up through the club Facebook page or contact the club through its website: www.kentmariners.co.uk.
EXETER SPITFIRES BASEBALL TEAM from the South West League will begin indoor winter training on Friday 16 January from 7.00-9.00 pm at West Exe School, Hatherleigh Road, Exeter, Devon EX2 9JU. Sessions will run every Friday evening at this time and will cost £4.
All equipment and coaching will provided and the Spitfires welcome both male and female players of all ages and abilities. For more information, please contact the Spitfires at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TONBRIDGE BASEBALL CLUB will begin winter training from Sunday 11 January 2015, with an afternoon session from 3.30-5.30 pm at on the Rowans Astroturf at Tonbridge School Sports Centre, London Road, Tonbridge TN10 3AD (you can find the entrance here: http://bit.ly.1Axqeg1). After a week's break, sessions will resume on Sunday 25 January and run for the following eight weeks. For more information contact Tim Baretto on: email@example.com or look on the club website: http://www.tonbridgebaseball.com.
LEICESTER BLUE SOX. Leicester's only baseball and softball club will hold taster sessions and tryouts from 2.00-4.00 pm on nine consecutive Sunday afternoons starting on 11 January 2015. The sessions will be open to experienced, intermediate and beginner adult baseball players; junior baseball players (aged 14+) of all abilities; and female softball players (aged 14 to adult) of all abilities.
Sessions will be held at Rushey Mead School Sports Hall, Melton Road, Leicester LE4 7AN (Google maps link: http://goo.gl/maps/YbrSr). Admission will be £5 per session, but for anyone brand new to the Blue Sox the first session will be free.
The club has a range of teams and programmes to suit players of every age, ability, experience and gender, and experienced Blue Sox coaches will be at every session to teach the basic skills of throwing and catching, hitting and scoring runs. All equipment, such as helmets, gloves and bats, will be supplied by the Blue Sox.
In order for the club to manage attendance, players who would like to attend the winter sessions are being asked to complete a short online registration form on: https://leicesterbluesox.wufoo.com/forms/z1u222y70h6cpli/.
The Blue Sox will also be running female-only softball sessions for girls and women starting in February, youth baseball sessions for boys and girls aged 9 to 16 starting in March and teeball sessions for boys and girls aged 4 to 8 starting in April. For more information about any of these opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOUTH LONDON PIRATES. The South London Pirates Baseball Club will hold indoor winter training at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, Ledrington Road, London SE19 2BB. Training will be held from 1.00-3.00 pm on the following Sundays: 25 January, 15 February, 22 February, 8 March and 15 March.
As always, the Pirates will welcome new players of all skill levels from across the city, and the club can provide equipment for new players as required. Anyone interested should contact the club via the website (www.southlondonpirates.co.uk) or by email on: email@example.com.
BIRMINGHAM BANDITS BASEBALL CLUB will begin pre-season indoor training on Sunday 18 January at Moseley School, Springfield Road, Birmingham, B13 4LR (Satnav postcode B13 9NY). Further indoor sessions will be held on 25 January and 1 February before outdoor training begins at Marston Green Recreation Ground, Bickenhill Road, Birmingham, West Midlands B37 7EL on Sunday 8 February. These sessions will continue on every Sunday until the start of the league season.
Indoor sessions will run from 11.00 to noon and will cost £3 per player to cover the cost of the venue hire. Outdoor sessions will run from 10.00 am to noon in February, extending to 10.00 am to 1.00 pm in March, but there will be no fee for these sessions as these are included in standard membership. Subject to final confirmation, a Baseball for Beginners course will run alongside the outdoor sessions starting on 8 February.
All sessions are suitable for players whatever your level of experience, and all equipment is provided. For more information contact Duncan Hoyle on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWTON AYCLIFFE BASEBALL CLUB will hold open indoor baseball training sessions every Tuesday evening (during term time) from 7.00-9.00 pm in the main Sports Hall at Woodham Academy, Washington Crescent, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham DL5 4AX. All players, including beginners, are welcome. For further details contact Mike Holton on: email@example.com.
KENT MARINERS BASEBALL CLUB will be holding 11 weekly indoor sessions starting from 4 January 2015 at Aylesford Sports College, Teapot Lane, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7JU. All players, including beginners, are welcome. Please visit www.kentmariners.co.uk for more details.
REDBACKS BASEBALL & SOFTBALL in Essex will begin preparations for the 2015 season on Friday 21 November at Chelmer Valley High School from 8.00-10.00 pm. Everyone -- including new players -- is welcome to attend. The session will be the first of three scheduled for senior players before Christmas. Equipment for new players who attend these sessions will be provided. Meanwhile, junior training for players aged 4-16 began on Sunday 30 November at James Hornsby School in Laindon for the fifth consecutive season. For more information about the Redbacks contact Sean Briscomb on: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07877-580474.
MANCHESTER BASEBALL CLUB is running indoor training on Sundays from 2.00-4.00 pm at the Platt Lane Complex, Yew Tree Rd, Manchester M14 7UU. All players, including beginners, are welcome. For more information, contact John Eaton.
LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY BASEBALL TEAM is training on Thursdays from 5.00-6.00 pm at Leeds Beckett University, Sports Office, Headingley Campus, Leeds, LS6 3QS. All players, including beginners, are welcome. For more information, contact Dale Bottomley.
HORSHAM JUNIOR BASEBALL CLUB is running fortnightly training sessions at Billingshurst Leisure Centre, Station Road, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 9RY (next to the Weald School) on Wednesday evenings from 6.00-7.00 pm, with a fun wiffleball game each time. New players are very welcome! For more information, contact Robin Banerjee.