|TIE = This Is England: They have been doing things this way for a thousand years and they aren't going to change because you are here.|
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|5 November, 1931|
With the loss of the founder, Sir William, the future of the HNBA is in doubt. Details are still sketchy, but is clear baseball in the UK has stopped.
As is the tradition, His Majesty, King George V, took the pitch at the conclusion of the World Cup to award the Royal Medallion of the Tested. This year's winners were the Bull's firstbaseman Albert Pujols and the Crusaders star bowler, Harry Howell.
For Pujols it was his second Royal Medallion, the first being in 1925, and his performace was strictly top drawer. Albert hit .389 with eight four-balls and 17 RBIs during the Test Matches
Middlesex's star Bowler Harry Howell was the only 4 game winner in this year's Test Matches. In 5 starts and 44 innings Howell held opponents to a .229 batting average for a 3.27 ERA. He also struck out 31 in 44 innings.
The Clontarf Bulls concluded the season in grand fashion -- they won the Home Nations Baseball Association World Test. They nailed it down at Castle Grounds by whipping the Middlesex Crusaders 4-1 to win it all. They took the series 4-0.
Their motto for the season was "Win or Die Trying".
"They never let up and they never stopped trying the whole season," the Bulls manager proudly told reporters. "They hustled and fought the whole season and it continued in the playoffs. They are a very special bunch of guys."
To get their 2nd league crown, the Bulls finished up the regular season in the Celtic Cornish Division with a 110-52 record, ending up in first place in the division standings.
What began months ago as a dream is now
The trade deadline has past, along with all of the GM wheeling and
Contract negotiations are on hold until another time.
Front office work is all but on the back burner.
Now it's time for each club, player, coach and manager to put their own
unique imprint on Home Nations Baseball Association history.
Nobody will remember the free agent who got away last winter.
No one will care about the trade that fell through right before the
People will remember just one thing about the playoffs -- the team that
wins the World Test crown.
That's the reason they play the game.
The Divisional Test starts today with these match-ups:
Derbyshire Phantoms versus Worcestershire Royals,
Warwickshire Bears versus Middlesex Crusaders,
Somerset Sabres versus Buckie Whalers and
Pembroke Red Foxes versus Clontarf Bulls
Half way thru the 1931 campaign and time
to look at the significant stories unfolding.
Hampshire's George Sisler has become the
charter member of the league's 2500 hit club.
Three players have joined the 2000 hit
club, Warwickshire's Hank Greenberg, Middlesex"s Cupid Childs and
Lancashire's Vada Pinson.
Northamptonsire's George Ruth becomes
the third member of the 200-win club.
Three players have achieved 1000 runs
scored, Worcestershire's Tris Speaker, Sussex's Frank Thomas and
Yorkshire's Joe Judge.
Clontarf's power twins, Oscar Charleston
Pujols are both on track to break two season records. Hank Greenberg's
mark of 65 4-balls and Adrian Beltre's 156 RBIs are in easy reach of
The playoff picture in the British has
Warwickshire and Worcestershire in control of two of the spots, but the
rest are up for grabs among all the sides, although, Yorkshire, Kent
and Surrey would need to turn things around. Middlesex still leads the
Coastal over Northamptonshire and Sussex.
In the Celtic League, Buckie as walked
away from all Cumbria challengers and looks to eclipse last season's
record 116 win total. Clontarf leads the Cornish by two over Pembroke
as both are solid favorites to make the playoffs. After that everyone
but Gloucestershire have a shot at the final Celtic playoff spot.
The new season is upon us and the
various counry grounds are awaiting the arrival of the various
supporters, cheering for the new HNBA season. What is to be expected in
Can Hampshire three-peat again?
Can Buckie improve upon last season's magical performance?
How will the Midlands Division play out this year?
Who is the newcomer who will flash his brilliance on the pitch?
Does a veteran have a magical year like last season's Frank Miller?
While there is usually a lot of suspense and team optimism as the new campaign begins, there would appear to be little in the Celtic League. The punters have incredibly short odds on Buckie as a repeat winner in the Cumbria and while there is spirited wagering in the Cornish, there is little doubt that both Hampsire and Clontarf will return to the test matches. The only uncertainty is who will claim that final playoff spot. The struggle seems to be among Pembroke, (last season's participant), Durham (which lost the playoff match), Larne and Somerset. Both Larne and Somerset made significant changes from last year's squad. With the addition of Meadows and Coumbe, we are tipping Larne to claim the final playoff spot.
Certainty is not something that exists in the British Division. Seven different sides have held the League Cup in the past 9 seasons. Defending champion Yorksire will face stiff competition from within it's own division. Oddly enough the Phoenix major off season acquisition came from financially troubled Derbtshire, last year's Midland title holder, as seven time all star George Brett moves to Headingley Carnegie. But Yorkshire's stiffest competition may come from Worcestershire. Last season's campaign seemed to be one of bad bounces for the Royals and with what may be the league's best bowler rotation, the Royals could be poised to take the Midlands this year and even become the eighth different British Cup holder.
In the Coastal, Northhamptonshire failed to retain the title and missed the test matches for only the 2nd time in their history. While the Steelbacks may not have the firepower to supplant Sussex at the top of the table, they should return to the test matches.
The Hampshire faithful were cheering in the streets and the Yorkshire fans were crying in their beer -- The Hawks won the World Test. They clinched it by knocking off the Phoenix 6-5 to sucessfully defend their World Cup title and capture their 7th Home Nations Baseball Association crown. Hampshire took the series 4-1.
"This club never gave up all year long. We started the season and struggled a bit, but the lads believed they could win the title and they did," the victorious Ol' Gaffer told the press. "In the test matches we went 9-0 on the road which is a testiment to the tenacity of the team. I felt that was the key to our success," added the gaffer.
The Hampshire offense was simply overpowering. They hit .309 as a team with 8 players hitting over .300. Their balance is illustrated by the fact that 6 players had at least 6 RBIs but none had more than 8.
"We just didn't play well enough to win," the Phoenix manager lamented, "We just didn't make the big plays like they did."
In response to strong pressure from the supporters, the Hampshire Chairman admitted that the Board was doing a full review of the past season looking to address any issues and make the appropriate changes that could include replacing Sir William as the Hawks gaffer.
While a segment of the supporters have been vocal all season on the squad's lack of performance, the impact has been felt in the club's financials as the fans have stayed away from the Rose Bowl. While most clubs are enjoying record crowds, the Hawks posted their lowest attendence on record. Clearly, 88 wins is not enough for the faithful at Hampshire. The Hawks were also the first defending champion in HNBA history not to make the playoffs the following year to defend their title.
Critics hint that the times have passed the Ol' Gaffer by. His antiquated contract policies have hurt the squad and limited reasources. His supporters point to a brutal division in which he has 7 World Cup titles and the key injuries which hampered the current campaign.
Sir William understands the frustration of the supporters.
"Hampshire plays to a high standard. Making the Test Matches is considered the base from which success is measured. When that is not reached the supporters are justified in their anger. I am not satisfied with our performance this season either. All elements of this past campaign must be evaluated to identify where improvements are to be made. I will certainly be making recommendations to the Board, as I do after every season."
One thing is certain. This is new territory for the Hampshire management team. While it may prove to be a difficult off-season, the steps taken can only be judged after the 1932 season. Can the Board find answers to quickly return the Hawks to the Test Matches and restore the faith of the supporters?
After losing slugging first slip Albert (the Machine) Pujols for the season in 1929, and star midfielder Oscar (the Sheriff) Charleston for the season in 1930, the Bulls open the 1931 campaign in relatively good health, with only Juan (Igor) Gonzalez on the injury list.
The 1930 Bulls topped the century mark in county wins for the 9th time in 11 HNBA seasons, but once again failed to advance in the test season. Despite the loss of Charleston, the Bulls broke well from the gate, led by Pujols and the Sheriff’s replacement, Ethan Allen. However, the team faded in August and September after Allen, too, suffered a season-ending injury, and veteran mid-on Johnny Logan started showing his age in the field. The squad then was eliminated by archrivals, the Hawks, 3-1 in the divisional test pool matches.
Apart from the return of the Sheriff, the team that finished 1930 returns largely intact, led once again by Pujols, who smashed an HNBA-leading 43 four-balls in 1930. Veteran former Bulls Mark Christman and Randy Jackson have returned to Clontarf on transfer, replacing Logan and Juan Samuel. Elmer Smith was signed as a free agent and replaces Mike Darr on the substitutes bench, and John Gibbons has been promoted after a big 1930 season in the 2nd IX (15/96/.298) to back up wicket keeper Charlie Bennett. Inside the circle, Pujols and Tony Lazzeri are back at 1st and 2nd slip, the slick-fielding Christman takes over at silly mid-on, Jackson will platoon with Terry Pendleton at point, and versatile Bill Cissell is on the substitutes bench. In the deep, original Bull Rich Becker and Sherry Magee platoon at long on, the Sheriff is at deep cover backed up by Jimmy McAleer, and Smith will platoon at long off with Lew Ford, acquired on transfer for Samuel, until the return of Gonzalez from the injury list.
The team’s crack squad of bowlers, led by 20-match winners D*ck McBride and Ed Siever, is unchanged from last season. McBride and Siever once again are joined as openers by Sam Weaver, Joe Shaute and Dave Black. The change bowlers are Charlie Bohn, Mike Golden, southpaws Jack Leary and Arnold Carter, and closer Charlie Guth. Despite the cozy dimensions of Clontarf's Castle Grounds, the attack once again allowed an HNBA-low 37 boundaries and just 300 sundries in 1930.
Clontarf’s 2nd IX reached the Queen’s Competition tests for the 6th consecutive season in 1930, but failed to advance to the championship round. The veteran squad looks strong again in 1931, with promising yannigan and 1930 1st round draft choice Davy Force learning the ropes on the substitutes bench.
Clontarf’s rabid cranks have grown accustomed to county success, but the club’s lack of test success has resulted in the wireless being tuned to football once the leaves begin to turn. The Bulls hope to reverse that trend in 1931.
|Surrey Brown Caps||60||102||.370||29.0|
|Pembroke Red Foxes||94||68||.580||16.0|