Telford Giants can now enjoy a home run

Telford Giants Baseball Club, powered by four Venezeualans, two US nationals, a Hong Kong, Indian and Lithuanian player, stormed to title success in their debut season.

Giants can nowenjoy a home run
Giants can nowenjoy a home run

And now the ambitious club, named after the legend of the Wrekin Giant, are celebrating off the field having secured themselves a permanent home.

The Giants can now call the Regatta Playing Fields in Ironbridge, which are also home to grassroots football club Sparta FC, their new base.

The exciting developments keep coming for the burgeoning club, who thrived in the new and independent West Midlands Baseball League, which is aiming to bring the sport – which is such a big hit globally – to a local audience.

“It’s huge for us. It’s been so difficult not having a home due to all of our equipment and not having anywhere to train,” said Tom Rochester, one of the Giants’ founder members.

“We were training on a field in Priorslee next to Holy Trinity Academy twice per week on Wednesday and Friday evenings. And from there we managed to train into a championship-winning team!

“It’s been really, really difficult to find a home. We looked at about 30 different places.

“It was suggested to ask a football club and so I did. They have a bit of unused ground which is just big enough to squeeze our infield diamond which is 20m squared, the outfield can be shared.

“Sparta FC’s chairwoman had heard of us when I contacted her and they have been really positive.”

Telford Giants, who began life as just three keen amateur players in the summer of 2019, stormed to a maiden season success in the new West Midlands League, which included four clubs in its debut year.

They are a family club made up of around 30 members, most of whom live and work in Shropshire. Many, though, began life much further afield. The Giants roster is multi-national, with representatives coming from all corners of the globe.

“We have a big international feel in the club. People that live and work in Telford and have played the game to a good standard back in their home countries. Baseball is huge where the guys are from,” Rochester added. “They are here to have fun with us and make the club good.

“We have players from Venezuela, where baseball is their national sport, Lithuania, India. There are a couple from the US and Hong Kong, it’s a really international team.

“We started last summer with three of us British lads who had used to play in Birmingham leagues with Wolverhampton.

“I knew there was a new league and thought about asking around and advertising to join a team in Telford where there is a younger demographic to Church Stretton, where I live.

“I had absolutely no anticipation there would be the standard of baseball players join us. As soon as they started to come training with us and we saw what they could do, we got excited.”

After the coronavirus pandemic meant that the league eventually got underway in August, later than the initial start date of March, the Giants reached the end-of-season play-offs, where they dispatched Stourbridge and then Wolverhampton in the final to land an unlikely debut crown.

The West Midlands League was set up independently of the National League run by English Baseball Federation (EBF), so help with accessibility and affordability in the sport.

The league continues to grow and will feature more teams in 2021, including Birmingham Metalheads, Leicester Blue Sox and Long Eaton Storm.

The Giants finished the campaign with seven wins from eight matches after a commanding 11-4 victory over Stourbridge and a narrow 7-3 success against Wolverhampton, with whom they shared home pitches with in their debut season.

Leading the way was star pitcher Charlie Mayhew, who is from Albrighton and has previously been involved in the Great Britain roster.

In the final, he threw six innings, striking out eight.

The game turned in Telford’s favour with a magnificent five runs in the third innings, meaning the Giants had the edge in the ‘pitcher’s battle’.

Rochester said: “We had a good record this year and knew it was achievable, but baseball can be very strange and anything can happen. Credit to the players for never underestimating their opponents and hitting well against such quality pitching.

“We are all pretty chuffed because it’s been a tough year for everyone involved in sport.

“We had a few celebrations with socially-distant champagne spraying, but could not do too much.

“The players and families are the heart and soul of the club. We are a family club with kids and wives and girlfriends. So everyone was gutted we couldn’t celebrate the league properly.”

The Giants were also boosted by Hong Kong player Jackal Luk, second base man and one of their biggest hitters, as well as Kam Singh, from India, a dangerous pitcher.

The input of Venezuelan quartet Gilberto Poco, Andres Carrasco, Ricardo Trak and Carlos Acevado, who played the sport at home where it has a huge following, was invaluable.

They also boasted a competitive female player Evette Bytheway, a US player from Dudley in the Black Country, who was one of their best catchers last season.

The Giants hope to continue progressing and enter more competitive Midland leagues.

Telford players age from 16 to 55, but the ambitious club have plans in place to set up youth teams to help train and develop young players. There are also plans for a West Midlands League select side featuring the division’s female players.

Pre-season training gets under way at the dome at TCAT (Telford College of Arts and Technology) in January and the club are welcoming new players and members as they hope to start the defence of their debut title in a more competitive league next spring.

Giants are actively seeking local sponsorship. Businesses can get in touch and support their journey or with any other queries by emailing telfordbaseballclub@gmail.com

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