Our chat with Andy Moore, General Manager of the New Forest Thunder Knights in Southampton, England.
When were the Thunder Knights founded and what is their mission?
We're a brand new team, founded in October 2022 with the aim of bringing baseball to more people on the south coast of the United Kingdom. We've got a range of abilities on our team, from those who have played since they were young through to people who have never played before. We want everyone to have access to baseball and the ability to play on a welcoming and open team.
What inspired you to start the team?
There's a large area on the South Coast which didn't have a baseball team for a while, so it just made a lot of sense to start one so that people based in the Southampton and New Forest area could play locally. We also want to ensure that beginners have a welcoming environment to come and play, without any pressure and with training that will allow them to progress as players.
How do the Thunder Knights aim to impact your community?
So far we're having a positive impact, and the local community has been really welcoming! We're in the process of finding a permanent home for the team, and we've had several really generous offers. In return we're running open sessions for local people, planning to start a youth team within the next year or so and are about to undertake some charity work with organisations based in the New Forest.
Do you have any famous alumni or people associated with the team?
Not just yet, although we have had one of the best players in UK baseball coaching us this offseason in Shannon Hall (who plays for Bristol Vetra). With the GB National Team attracting interest at the World Baseball Classic, we may soon have the next big thing walking through our doors though!
How can people support the New Forest Thunder Knights?
We'd love some support at our home games throughout the Summer. However, if you're based overseas, some love on social media means a lot to us - baseball is growing all the time here but to keep up that momentum we need the backing of countries like the USA where it's already mega-popular. And if you're feeling really generous, we're always open to sponsorship suggestions, equipment over here is far more expensive as it's all imported and our players currently cover all the costs themselves.
What does "Support Local Baseball" mean to you?
It's all about ensuring that everyone that wants to play baseball, has a chance to play. There's nothing better for a British person than visiting America and seeing hundreds of well kept baseball fields in every community. We don't have that over here, but with the effort of dedicated volunteers across the country it's getting better all the time - it's those guys that need our support!
You can learn more about the New Forest Thunder Knights by visiting their website.