The second Tuesday in October, now established as the traditional time for announcing the new annual set of inductees into the British Baseball Hall of Fame (BBHoF), sees three more individuals receive the highest honour in the game:
- Ted Gerard-Thesingh (Coaches, managers, umpires, and other officials);
- Roland Gladu (Baseball players);
- Brian Thurston (Baseball players).
They join the eight individuals already inducted in the first two classes. Biographies for all inductees, and more information about the BBHoF, can be viewed on the official webpage: www.bbhof.org.uk.
The biographies for the inductees in the third class are reproduced below.
For more than two decades, Ted Gerard-Thesingh was Great Britain’s top umpire, working 13 national championship contests and more than 100 international matches.
Beyond his role on the field, Gerard-Thesingh also trained countless other umpires and was a dedicated administrative official at various levels of British baseball. Gerard-Thesingh moved to the United Kingdom from South Africa in 1979. Upon learning there was a dearth of umpires in British baseball he set to work recruiting and then teaching new officials.
Quickly garnering respect for his work behind the plate and on the bases, Gerard-Thesingh earned assignments in all but one national title games between 1982 and 1995. Internationally, he was also an umpiring fixture. He officiated in the 1984 and 1988 European Championship B-Pool and the 1989 European Championship A-Pool in Paris, France. A serious injury in the mid-1990s cut his umpiring career short, but Gerard-Thesingh continued to contribute to British baseball.
He served as technical commissioner at a number of national finals and at the 1996 European Championship B-Pool in Hull, England. In recognition of his many years of service, Gerard-Thesingh was made an honorary life member of both the British Baseball Federation and the Amateur Baseball Umpires Association–Great Britain (ABUA-GB). In addition, the ABUA-GB began bestowing the “Ted Gerard-Thesingh Trophy” in 2003 as an annual award to acknowledge outstanding effort by a particular umpire each year. Gerard-Thesingh also received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 national finals.
Described in the 1939 book Baseball for British Youth as “[p]erhaps the finest batter who has ever played for an English team,” Roland Gladu was the only 20th Century positional player known have to competed in a domestic Great Britain circuit and then risen all the way to the Major Leagues in the United States.
Dubbed “the Babe Ruth of Canada” by the British press during his 2 years in the United Kingdom (1936–37), the French-Canadian Gladu played primarily for West Ham in the effectively professional London Major Baseball League.
As the club’s player–manager, he led the team to top-two finishes in both of his seasons as well as to one remarkable upset: a 5–3 triumph over the 1936 United States Olympic baseball team. In that contest, Gladu connected for two hits, including West Ham’s only extra-base hit (a double). While statistics are incomplete from this era, it is known that he led the London circuit in batting with a .565 average in 1937. Seven years on from his time in Great Britain, Gladu ascended to the Majors, hitting .242 with one home run in 21 games for the 1944 Boston Braves of the National League.
Brian Thurston, who retired as Great Britain’s most capped international pitcher, was a dominating force both domestically and abroad.
Thurston appeared in seven European Championships, throwing 83.0 innings and posting a 5–4 record with a 2.82 earned-run average. He also pitched his club side to multiple national honours. The left-handed Thurston led Great Britain to promotion into the top tier of European baseball in 1988, earning the Most Valuable Player award at the European Championship B-Pool on home soil. He won two games at the event, including the final against Czechoslovakia, in which he threw a 7.0-inning shutout, striking out 12 batters. The publication First Base described the outing as “a stirring display of power pitching.” Other stand-out performances were to come.
In 1989, he struck out 25 batters in 23.2 innings at the European Championship A-Pool in France and 2 years later he posted a 3.18 earned-run average, fanning 20 hitters in 17.0 innings at the 1991 championships in Italy. Despite suffering an arm injury later in his career, he also contributed to Britain’s international success with the bat. At the 1996 European Championship B-Pool in England, his run-scoring 10th-inning hit against Lithuania in the semi-finals secured Great Britain’s promotion back into European baseball’s elite group after relegation 5 years earlier.
Equally impressive in British league play, Thurston was a long-time member of his local side, the Hull (Humberside) Mets. During his club career he led the Mets to three national titles, a silver medal at the 1992 European Cup Winners Cup qualification tournament, and three national Knock-out Cup trophies (in the 1992 triumph, he threw a 7.0-inning no-hitter).