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In your clubs #19: the Barracudas of Montpellier

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Publish } 30-07-2022

In July in your clubs goes to Occitania to meet the Montpellier Barracudas which host the 2th edition of the Women’s Euro Baseball from August 3 to 6, 2022.

The history of baseball in Montpellier began in the 1980s. In 1985, three clubs were created in Montpellier (Montpellier Baseball Club), Castelnau-le-lez (“Barracudas”) and Clapiers (the “Rabbits”), at the initiative of Jean Bereille and sports teachers such as Bernard Charlot and Bernard Salles.

The beginnings.

After the rapprochement that occurred in 1988 between the Rabbits and the Barracudas, the objective of the Metropolis (“ex-District”) will be to set up a club of national scope using a baseball field built in Veyrassi in 1990 on the occasion of the creation of a National High Level Center (CNHN) dedicated to baseball.

The impetus thus initiated by the District caused the clubs to merge in 1989 to become Montpellier Castelnau Baseball “Les Barracudas-du-Lez”. Two years later, the club was playing at the highest French level, thanks in particular to an exceptional Canadian coach, now director of the Canadian national teams and honorary citizen of the city of Montpellier, Greg Hamiltonwho won the title of French Baseball Champion in 1993, 94 and 95.

The 1994 French Baseball Champion Montpellier team.

A wink of fate, it is a Franco-Canadian family bathed in baseball during their stays across the Atlantic, Peggy and Gérard Cros and their children Anthony, Gregory and Lauren, who will invest in the club. The two boys would go on to become internationals for the French team, study in North America and Anthony, the current manager of the French men’s softball team, would play pro with the Capitales de Québec in the CanAm League.

Montpellier have won four of the last five French Division 1 Men’s Softball Championships. Credit FFBS/Glenn Gervot.

Arrived at the club at the time of Greg Hamilton’s departure for Canada, Gérard Cros succeeded Gilbert Gherardi as president of the club in 2000, when CNHN Montpellier left Montpellier to join INSEP. Its priority objective was from the outset to recreate a training center in Montpellier, first in the form of a “club” training center in conjunction with the CREPS, using the skills of the second base of the Barracudas and the France team, Lahcène Benhamida (now CTS with the Federation), then in the form of a “Regional” training center with Jean-Michel Mayeur, under the aegis of a job shared between the club and the League. This Center was labeled “Pôle Espoir Baseball” in 2011 and is still managed by Jean-Michel Mayeur who is also manager of the national team 15U Baseball, qualified this year for the World Cup.

The Montpellier team which played in Elite in 2011.
Victory at the Challenge de France de Baseball 2021, first national title in senior baseball since 2006. Credit FFBS / Glenn Gervot.

An important step for the club was also the choice of join the MUC as an “affiliated association” while retaining the “Barracudas” identity. This pooling of resources has made it possible to broaden sporting horizons and to benefit from shared premises or services, employment opportunities or financing through the National Union of University Clubs.

The 15U of Montpellier French Baseball Champions 2018.

Today one of the largest clubs in the Federation in terms of licensees, Montpellier has contributed to the development of the practice in the department, a spin-off having taken place in the neighboring municipalities, with the creation of the club of La Grande Motte and the recreation of the Clapiers/Jacou Rabbits club. Centre-Hérault, empty of any baseball, could also become a place of expansion, in particular thanks to the support of the Departmental Committee 34, which has been dynamic again since 2021 under the chairmanship of Patrick Millio.

Women’s softball in Montpellier. Credit Julien Barrio.

The club is very active in schools but also in neighborhoods (city projects) and Baseball5 is widely used there. The club strongly supports the development of this mixed practice, dynamic, easy to implement and which constitutes an effective tool for the democratization of our sport.

Young team of the Montpellier club.

Finally, the history of the club has also just been enriched by the creation of a section of a universal sport, Cricket, the Barracudas being particularly active and ambitious within the framework of a newly created Occitanie championship.

Gerard Cros: “I would say that, to make further progress, we need:

– continue our professionalization in executives (eg Olivier Brossier) and technicians (eg Owen Ozanich), in particular by making full use of the tool of the group of employers;

-demonstrate our ability to bring our city national and international recognition through a strategy of prestigious events. After hosting the Challenge de France de Baseball 2018 and several Opens or French Youth Championships, we hosted the 2nd edition of the Open de France de Baseball5 (January 2022) and soon the Euro Féminin de Baseball ( August 3-6).

-obtain the renovation and lighting of our land, which should have been carried out before 2016 according to the agreement signed in 2002 between the Town Hall and the University; however, I know that I can count, on this point, on the support of the Mayor and President of the Metropolis, Michael Delafosse.”

The Veyrassi baseball field.

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