Today the fifth annual class of the British Baseball Hall of Fame (BBHoF) has been announced, and there are four new inductees, bringing the total membership to 22. The inductees include there long-serving and well-decorated players as well as someone who built the backbone for British baseball’s historical recording. The four individuals are presented below.
To see details on all inductees, please visit the official site of the BBHoF: http://bbhof.org.uk/
A true team leader, Peter Crook spent 60 years playing and coaching baseball, steering teams to success throughout the South of England. Primarily a first baseman, Crook got his start with the Dulwich Bluejays in 1948 and remained with the club until 1959. His career was interrupted when he joined the army as a regular soldier in the Royal Artillery but he always managed to get leave to play as many games as he could. As well as a solid first baseman Crook developed into a power hitter and in 1959 he was invited by the Detroit Tigers to try out at their Spring Training camp. Owing to the expense Peter was unable to accept. From 1960 to 1969, he was a member of the Richmond Red Sox, guiding the club to a Southern baseball trophy as player–manager and earning All-Star team selection twice. In 1970, he joined one of the South’s most famous clubs, the Sutton Braves, and spent 7 years with the squad. He was named the team’s Most Valuable Player twice and was a league All-Star in six straight seasons. In 1977, he returned to his original club, who now played as the Croydon Bluejays. During his second tour of duty, which lasted until 1984, he was a two-time Most Valuable Player and an All-Star on five occasions. His 1984 Blue Jays team won the national championship. Crook also played for the Gillingham Dodgers winning the Division Two title in 1986. Then, in 1988, Crook helped found of one of Britain’s most enduring clubs, the Old Timers. Under his management, the team captured an international championship trophy at a tournament in Germany in 1993. During two decades, in all, with the Old Timers, Crook was also an ambassador to the game at home. He was an architect of a friendly league to encourage new teams to form. Through the league, teams like the Medway Mariners and the Burgess Hill Red Hats, which later became established clubs, got their first taste of organized play.
A dominant player on one of Great Britain’s all-time greatest clubs, Ray Reynolds competed for 31 seasons (1950–80) at Britain’s highest level of play. As one of the most junior players (if not the all-time youngest) to ever earn a regular place at the top level of baseball in the United Kingdom, Reynolds made his debut for Thames Board Mills (TBM) as a 12-year-old boy in 1950. During Reynolds’ tenure, TBM captured more than a dozen league titles and two national championships (1959 and 1960). Reynolds, a versatile athlete who starred in both the infield and the outfield as well as behind the plate, was named to numerous All-Star teams. He was also dubbed the British Baseball League Most Valuable Hitter in 1967 and earned Southern League Most Valuable Player honours twice. Internationally, he represented Great Britain regularly during contests in the 1950s and 1960s and was part of the silver medal-winning England roster at the 1967 European Championship A-Pool.
A member and team leader of title-winning teams in nine sanctioned national championships and two unsanctioned events, Brad Thompson won more titles than any other player in British baseball history. Thompson, whose career began in 1976 as a catcher for the Golders Green Sox, was a winner from nearly the beginning. In 1977 and 1979, the Green Sox earned national titles, with Thompson playing a crucial role in the 1979 finals. Not only did he hit a home run early in the contest, but he also later scored the game-tying run in an 11-inning triumph. Based on records available from his time with the Green Sox, Thompson batted .456 with a .779 slugging average for the club. During this period, he tallied a league-leading .500 batting average in 1979, which was one of several such titles he is reported to have won. Thompson later joined the London Warriors, helping that club to secure back-to-back national titles in 1981 and 1982. Continuing a trend of being clutch in the big games, Thompson scored 4 runs and went 2-for-2 with a double in the 1981 finals. His next stop was with the Cobham Yankees, where his .404 batting average and .603 slugging percentage were key factors in propelling that team to three straight national championships (1986–88). After the Yankees folded, Thompson served as a central figure in reforming the London Warriors. The Warriors went on to capture multiple titles, including a first-place showing in the 1988 Scottish Amicable League and national club trophies in 1997 and 2000. When Thompson retired in 2003 after 28 seasons, he was the only player to have registered more than 300 runs batted in top-tier competition, according to Project COBB’s available records. Beyond his accomplishments on the field, Thompson also served as league secretary and then president for the Southern League between 1979 and 1984 and as chief administrator for the Scottish Amicable League, which ran from 1987 to 1989.
Coaches, managers, umpires, and other officials
William Morgan (born 9 October 1923) was for decades British baseball’s pre-eminent historian and journalist, and his seminal research and chronicling efforts form the backbone of much of what we know about the game’s history in Britain. The most invaluable of his many important works was a list of national champions dating back to the game’s organised start in 1890. This now serves as the basis of the official record. Another considerable contribution to British baseball came by way of newsletters he self-published. He edited 24 issues of Baseball Courier between 1963 and 1967 and then went on to produce 51 issues of a second newsletter, Baseball Mercury, between 1972 and 1989. Not only did he chronicle the contemporary game, but he also made sure the history of British baseball was a major focus of his work. Without these materials, information on expansive periods of British baseball history would have simply disappeared. Moreover, by distributing the publications to over 20 countries, Morgan played a major role in maintaining an international profile for British baseball (at the time, this was probably the only source of information on British baseball for a lot of international recipients). Morgan first came across the game of baseball in 1938 in Cardiff, where, he later recounted, a seven-team league operated (two Royal Air Force sides, Central YMCA, Mail & Echo, St David’s, Lumberjacks [timber importer employees], and Penzance Social Club). He could not afford to join a club but played for a couple of innings in a pre-season pickup game for Central YMCA at second base in 1939. Aside from his role as chronicler and historian, William also served in an administrative capacity at a national level. He was engaged as both Information Officer and Treasurer for governing bodies of baseball in Britain at different times. In recognition of his contributions to the game, he handed out the MVP trophy at the 1976 British baseball national final (a game for which he was listed in the programme as ‘Official Baseball Historian’) and was the guest of honour at the 1986 final. Based on his knowledge and experience, he was chosen to serve as one of the inaugural selectors for this British Baseball Hall of Fame.