Baseball & Softball UK
British Baseball Federation
has been played in the UK since 1890, when it was introduced
by two sources: Francis Ley, a Derby man who got interested
on a trip to the US, and A.G. Spalding an American sporting
goods businessman who saw opportunities to expand his business
across the Atlantic.
Baseball reached its peak popularity in Britain in the years
preceding World War II, with baseball teams adjoined with
football clubs (hence Derby County’s home ground was
named the Baseball Ground), run at a professional standard
with up to 10,000 spectators per game.
This ended when the war began in 1939 but the influx of large
numbers of US servicemen ensured baseball continued as a pastime.
Today, there are two league teams on US military bases. They
are part of an expanding membership of more than 40 baseball
teams and 875 adult players, ranging geographically from Cambridge
to Liverpool, Southampton to Edinburgh.
have been numerous league formats and governing bodies since
1890. The British Baseball Federation (BBF), as it is today,
has governed the leagues since 1987. In 2000 BaseballSoftballUK
came on board as the managing agency. BSUK has worked to create
a modern baseball culture. Whilst in the past there have been
peaks and troughs in baseball levels, the overriding aim now
is to maintain and build on the current standards. The compact,
tiered league system is designed to allow clubs and teams
to establish themselves at a level and develop. Clubs nurture
feeder teams, spread the sport in the community and, very
importantly, generate a future for the sport by running youth
The wood bat National League, the UK’s top level, runs
in South and North divisions, the best from each meeting in
playoffs and then the Final 4 National Championships in September.
The second tier of play is the aluminium bat Premier Division
South, which plays towards the Premier Division Final 4, while
the third-tier Division 1 allows teams to compete for places
in the Division 1 Final 4 between now and September.
There is a level for every standard of player and the leagues
are populated by players from Britain, Europe, the Americas,
Australia, South Africa, Japan and many other countries. The
season runs from April until September’s post-season
play-offs, the pinnacle of which is the Final 4 National Championships.
British Softball Federation
Softball has been one of the fastest growing adult team sports
in the UK over the past two decades. Beginning with a handful
of teams in 1984, the sport now has over 20 leagues and 500
teams located in cities and towns all over the country. Softball
is also well entrenched in Jersey, Guernsey and the Republic
of Ireland. Until recently, softball enjoyed its major growth
in London and south, and around half of all teams are found
there. But since the late 1990s the rest of the country has
caught up fast.
are often formed through companies, sports clubs, voluntary
organisations, schools – or simply groups of friends.
There are some single-sex teams, but over 90% of slowpitch
softball teams are co-ed, or mixed, which provides particular
opportunities for women. Most adult players are in their 20s
or 30s, but many players carry on into their 50s or even longer.
The game is also beginning to take hold in many schools,
colleges and youth
organisations in Britain, as an enjoyable summer team sport.
Worldwide, softball is played by nearly 50 million people
in 125 countries and one format, women’s fastpitch,
is an Olympic sport.
Formats of Softball
Slowpitch: This is the most common form,
played around the UK by Co-ed (mixed) teams, men’s and
women’ s teams. The clue is in the name - the ball is
slowly pitched in underarm slowly for batters to hit.
Fastpitch: Women’s and men’s
fastpitch softball is also played domestically in the UK.
Fastpitch is a competitive form of the game, where the ball
is pitched underarm to the batter at high speed and hitting
is more difficult. There are additional aspects to the game,
such as bunting and base-stealing, not found in slowpitch.
Fastpitch softball is played competitively at international
Softball in the UK is governed by the British Softball Federation
(BSF) and managed by BaseballSoftballUK. (BSUK). The softball
season runs April – September but there is also an indoor
form of the sport played during the winter. There are approximately
385 adult teams and 6,900 adult players.
As well as regional leagues, tournaments are a hugely important
aspect of the sport in this country, with few weekends going
by where there isn’t a tournament somewhere. These offer
a chance for teams from around the country to meet up and
compete. The climax of the season, are the Slowpitch National
Championships held throughout August and September.
Ball! is an award-winning, comprehensive and integrated youth
development programme aimed at growing youth baseball and
softball leagues throughout the United Kingdom. Developed
by Major League Baseball, in partnership with BaseballSofballUK,
Play Ball! has been specially designed to encourage strong
community participation and to maximise enjoyment for boys
and girls. The programme has been operating since 1996 and
has introduced over 250,000 children to the sports of baseball
and softball. Play Ball! is a three-tiered initiative including
the Play Ball! Schools Programme, Pitch, Hit & Run, Play
Ball! Youth Leagues, and the Play Ball! Roadshow.
Pitch Hit & Run is the award-winning
UK schools initiative that operates in more than 700 schools
nationwide. The programme is delivered in class or after school
by teachers, offering pupils an alternative activity to mainstream
sports that is active and rewarding. The Play Ball!
Youth League programme acts as the perfect complement
to the schools programme, providing opportunities for kids
interested in furthering either their baseball or softball
career within an organised local structure. The youth leagues
are assisted by a dedicated local coordinator as well as administrative
and coaching support from MLB and BSUK staff. The
Play Ball! Roadshow is a travelling, interactive
‘Introduction to baseball’, run by MLB-trained
coaches that teaches basic baseball skills. It includes a
batting cage to give participants the chance to learn how
to hit a baseball, while the pitching tunnel presents the
opportunity to measure how fast you can throw a baseball.
Grass Roots Fastpitch Programme
The Grass Roots Fastpitch Programme is a schools fastpitch
softball programme which began in January 2003 with seven
schools. Since then programme has expanded to seven areas
with 20 teams, with continued growth expected, though the
aim is always to produce quality rather than quantity. The
regional leagues play in Under-13 and Under-16 age groups
during the spring/summer, with indoor leagues during the winter.
There is also a tournament event in the Grass Roots National
Championships. Additionally, an Under-13 and Under-16 School
of Excellence travells abroad.
Please visit the Baseball
& Softball UK website