British University Baseball Association Hits Another Milestone

I had a discussion with someone about a UK University baseball league a number of years ago but ultimately the idea never came to fruition.  Then in 2007 the British University Baseball Association (BUBA) suddenly appeared on my radar. It took the hard work and collaboration of three university baseball teams, Nottingham, Southampton and UEA, to get to that point. In the last couple of years, the association has continued to grow.

Playing baseball at universities has been around for a while but in an informal way with teams often playing in the BBF leagues or friendlies against each other, but in October 2008 the BUBA had its first championship at the Nottingham’s Grove Farm sports fields. There had been other university baseball events before, but this was first one exclusively for university students.

The BUBA hit another milestone this year with the first ever spring league that started in February and runs until June. The Northern division includes Durham Bishops, Leeds Oaks, Lincoln Commoners, Nottingham Thieves and UEA Blue Sox. Then there is the southern division made up of the Brighton Panthers, Oxford Kings and Southampton Mustags.

As this is the association’s inaugural season they have kept the format quite loose with games not fixed on certain dates and the teams deciding between themselves what date to play. 

John Irving, Director of Operations commented, “There can quite often be scheduling problems with teams (transport, exams, pitches not ready etc.) and as such the schedule acts merely as a guide for teams to work off. Fixtures are usually arranged amongst the teams themselves and are then reported to us later on. This has allowed the teams the flexibility they need to operate in what is our inaugural season.

There will be the Final Four competition in June that will take place at UEA’s Colney Lane Field that involves the top two teams from each division playing to be league champion.

As previously stated, the schedule has been made deliberately loose with a number of games having already been played. In the south, Brighton still has to play Oxford and Southampton home and away. In the north there are many fixtures remaining that involve Lincoln, Nottingham, Durham, UEA and Leeds.

Next year I hope that the schedules are made more concrete.  While I can understand the need for it, the flexible nature of the schedules this season makes it very difficult for fans to follow and ultimately building up that core fan base will make university baseball a success. The BUBA has started well and has done well to achieve so much in so little time. What do you want to see from BUBA and university baseball?

More Information Can Be Found At http://www.unibaseball.co.uk/.

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7 Responses to British University Baseball Association Hits Another Milestone

  1. Matt Smith March 30, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    Obviously it would be great if more unis were involved, but you often need to build gradually to have success down the line. Hopefully the league can work well and BUBA can then promote itself at other unis, encouraging others to join in.

    Of course, the key will be to get people playing in uni and then to continue once they have graduated.

  2. Thomas Ogilvie March 30, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

    With many universities playing host to large swathes of ex-pat Americans, a uni league should be able to support itself. The difficulties as I see them will be finding playing space, and ensuring that university teams support and are integrated with any existing teams in the area.

  3. Russell Dyas March 30, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    I agree keeping people playing pass uni is issue/key.

    One of the biggest issues of uni baseball is turn over as after 3 years students leave. So got make sure recruit enough under grads each year to keep a team alive.

    Russ

  4. Joe Gray March 31, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    It would be good if the British Baseball Federation tried to build links with each university team so that the players were aware of what British baseball league teams they could move on to after graduating.

    To an American reader, the idea of a player being lost from the system after graduating from university must be perplexing.

  5. Adam Brown, BUBA March 31, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    Thanks for the comments. I thought i would respond to a few!

    We try to strongly encourage all our players to join a BBF team, and to keep their eye in by playing over the summer holidays wherever possible. Several clubs have teams in both BUBA and BBF, such as Southampton and Oxford, and several have contacts with local teams, such as Leicester Blue Sox and Nottingham Thieves.

    We inititally tried to set a definitive schedule for the league, but there were so many issues with pitch provision and transport, that almost every fixture has to be rearranged! Students tend not to have such easy access to cars as BBF players, and whilst some universities have been extremely helpful in providing places to play, some have been less so. In the end we decided that the important thing was simply to get all the games played.

    Next year should be bigger and better: we are holding separate “A” and “B” grade tournaments in October, and are aiming to have 15/16 teams ready for the league next spring, again split into suitable regional leagues. We already have 4 new university clubs ready to go, and are confident about getting 4 more founded over the next 6 months.

    The final four in Norwich is being held on the 13th and 14th June this year if anyone is interested!

  6. Russell Dyas March 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi Adam

    Hopefully the article came across positive I said do understand need to have flexible schedule.

    As said in intro I remember number of years back uni baseball being discussed. So I do understand hurdles that BUBA have overcome to get this far. I do hope that came across in the article.

    Russ

  7. Matt Smith March 31, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Hi Adam. Great to hear that interest is building. I’m hoping to come to at least one day, if not both days, of the Final Four event.

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