Young Sussex ace comes out swinging for baseball

Nathan Simmons is coming out swinging and wants to make baseball a major participant sport in the UK.

Nathan Simmons in action
Nathan Simmons in action

The Southwick ace is one of Great Britain’s most exciting young talents with a bat and ball in hand, having started the sport as a 12-year-old and honing his skills at Brighton Baseball Club.

National recognition soon followed as Simmons was selected for Great Britain Under-15s, travelling to Antwerp, Prague and Stockholm for tournaments determined to put his beloved sport on the European map.

The profile of British baseball remains inferior to the bright lights of the United States but Simmons, who is financially supported by SportsAid, reckons the sport is only going in one direction.

Nathan Simmons in his Great Britain shirt

“Baseball’s not televised quite as much as the more popular sports in Britain, which might explain why it’s not that high-profile,” the 17-year-old said.

"It’s definitely getting bigger with things like the London Series, but baseball still isn’t very well-known and a lot of people don’t really know it’s a thing.

“But I definitely do see baseball having a brighter future in Britain - one thing that could be improved would be if the GB setup could get out to more schools and give training sessions to get more people aware of the sport.

“My message to somebody who was tempted to start baseball would just be ‘go for it!’ If you see it, enjoy it and feel like you want to play it, just go for it and keep going and don’t look back.

Nathan Simmons

“I definitely think there’ll be a time where Britain can generate the sort of crowds and atmosphere that the USA has, and if the sport keeps growing I think that will happen.

“And if baseball is to grow, my ambition is to be at the forefront of that and representing my country, and it's been an incredible journey so far.”

Simmons is eyeing up an American odyssey when he completes his A-Levels in Sport, Business and Applied Science at his local Cardinal Newman Catholic School, being an avid follower of Major League side Los Angeles Dodgers and looking up to players like Philadelphia Phillies star Didi Gregorius.

And the teenager knows it’s an exciting time to be a baseball player wherever you are, with the sport being re-added to the Olympic programme ahead of the Tokyo Games after not being contested since Beijing in 2008.

The prospect of representing Team GB is an attractive one but Simmons says it’s the glitz and glamour of across the pond that's his ultimate ambition.

“I’d probably put Major League Baseball as the pinnacle of the sport,” he said.

“Being under the lights, in front of a massive crowd is definitely the pinnacle of the sport and would be something special to experience.

“That would be a dream come true, but at the same time the experience you’d get from the Olympics would be outstanding too.

“I definitely want to go over to America and play college baseball next year, so that would hopefully get me noticed in the USA, while my next main goal is to get selected for the GB Under-23 team when I step up in age group.

“I’m still yet to experience the hype and the atmosphere of a Major League Baseball match, but I’m certainly excited to when I get the chance!”

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