LONDON, U.K., 30 December 2021 — The British Baseball Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the Class of 2021, which includes four Great Britain players spanning 112 years of national team competition. Maikel Azcuy, Julian Dodwell, and Martyn Dutton were elected by the Modern Committee, with Azcuy and Dutton earning the honour in their first year on the ballot. Meanwhile, the Historic Committee selected J.G. Lee, who played for England in its first national team game. Forty-four men and women are now enshrined in the BBHOF for their superlative contributions to baseball in Britain.
Over a 12-season career (2006-2017) in British baseball’s top league, Maikel Azcuy was a record-setting hitter who led five teams to national championships. He holds the modern career records at the national league level for home runs (45), base hits (322), and runs batted in (273), is second all-time in doubles (68) and triples (13), and third in runs (258). Azcuy delivered a career .444 batting average, .517 on-base percentage, and a .750 slugging average. The third baseman also recorded a career average above .300 in six major tournaments for Great Britain.
Azcuy earned the Triple Crown in 2015, leading the National Baseball League in batting average (.467), home runs (6), and RBI (28), taking home MVP honours for the Herts Falcons. The infielder was named the league’s most valuable player a second time in 2017. He won two batting titles (2015, 2017) and tied or held the circuit lead in home runs four times (2010, 2012, 2015–16). He also topped the circuit in RBI in five seasons, including four consecutively (2012, 2014–17).
His performances helped five different clubs win national championships: Southern Nationals in 2011, Harlow Nationals in 2012 and 2013, Essex Arrows in 2014, and Southampton Mustangs in 2016.
Dodwell was a national team mainstay and one of the top players in the south of Britain from 1987–92. He was arguably the best hitter in the semi-professional Scottish Amicable Baseball League, winning the top circuit’s batting title twice, first in 1988—when he put up a .529 average—and again in 1989. From 1982–91, Dodwell represented GB internationally with distinction.
In the 1986 European B-Pool Championship, Dodwell smacked a two-run home run in the ninth inning to lead the national side to a 9-8 victory over Finland. In the 1989 Euros, he was one of the team’s top hitters, registering a .333 average in 24 AB. Among his highlights at the event: posting three base hits, including a double, and knocking in four in GB’s 8-7 victory over Germany. In an exhibition game against the MLB Alumni All-Star team that year, Dodwell went 1-for-3 with an RBI as GB’s clean-up hitter, also pitching a scoreless seventh, striking out two and surrendering only one hit.
Dodwell managed the Southern Tigers in 1987 in the SANL, spinning two shutouts that year. In 1988, he hit three home runs and scored 18 runs for the Tigers as the league’s Best Batter. In the club’s thrilling comeback in the 1989 final, he doubled, walked, and stole a base. In 1992 and 1993, he won the Independent National League crown with the London Warriors.
Dodwell was also a trailblazer as one of the first of his generation to travel abroad to improve his baseball skills. In 1987, he played for Blackburn in Australia, where he put up a very respectable .317 batting average. Two years later, he also pitched for a New York club named the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Martyn Dutton was a regular on the Great Britain national team in from 1994–2001 and a key two-way player for the Brighton Buccaneers dynasty of that era. Beginning in 1994, the pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman represented GB in 14 events, including four European Championships.
In 1994, Dutton tuned up for the European Championship B-Pool by pitching England past Scotland in the annual matchup, then allowed only two hits against Norway in the Euros. He pitched four innings of one-run ball, striking out seven batters for the British side that won the 1996 European B-Pool gold medal. At the plate, he registered a .345 batting average in 15 GB games at major events.
Dutton burst on the scene in the 1994 BBF Knockout Cup, where he seemingly willed his Birmingham Braves to victory, inducing the final out of the 8-7 final with the tying run 90-feet away. The two-way star had already lashed a double and two singles in four at bats, scored twice, and driven in a run. He turned in another good performance on the continent in 1997, scoring the Bandits’ opening run in a pivotal game at the European Club Championship B-Pool. Dutton then held the Copenhagen Fighters hitless until the seventh, punching out eight in a 9-3 win. A day later, Dutton homered in a semi-final loss.
Domestically, Dutton then became a key cog for the Brighton club. Dutton secured the key up-the-middle position of centre field and was a strong middle order bat for Brighton for three national championships in 1999, 2001, and 2002. In 1998, Dutton slashed .522/.537/.739, and his total available statistics credit him with a .404 batting average and 52 RBI over four seasons.
John Gibson Lee (c. 1886–c. 1960) was an important figure in early British baseball. A former player for Tottenham Hotspur in the short-lived London Baseball League, Lee won the 1908 title with Spurs. He twice suited up for England, including in its first international game. He was also the organising secretary of the British Baseball Association and a key baseball figure during WWI. The American Baseball Magazine proclaimed him ‘the Father of Baseball in England’, noting, ‘[he] has labored for years…to instill, in England, [a] love of baseball…’.
In 1916, Lee formed the eight-team Military Baseball League, which included his London Americans club, with a championship trophy donated by Viscountess Nancy Astor, soon to become the first female MP in the House of Commons. ‘Baseball has gripped England and is now being played in many parts of the country before big crowds,’ noted the New York Times on July 11. Those crowds included Princess Louise, at least two lord mayors that threw out a first pitch, and many other nobility and celebrities.
By August 3 of the following year, Lee had ‘arranged about 150 games around London’ and, by season’s end, had hosted three games at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Included among them was a ‘United States’ team captained by Lee—who hit second behind 17-year MLB veteran Arlie Latham (then 57)—against ‘Canada’. One game even attracted HRH King George V, Queen Mary, and three princesses on the recommendation of Princess Mary, who had taken in a game a week prior. In October that year, Lee took the London Americans and a Canadian squad to play in Ireland, the proceeds of ticket sales benefiting wounded troops.
The tour continued Lee’s international-themed exploits, as the infielder suited up at third base for the ‘English-born’ side against an ‘American-born’ squad in London in 1907. That event, for which the score is unknown, is regarded as the first game played by an English or British national team. In 1911, Lee was one of only three players to once more represent England against ‘America’, making a ‘fine catch’ to end the game.
Full candidate biographies are appended below. Details of the 2021 British Baseball Hall of Fame induction festivities, if possible, will be released at a later date, in accordance with government guidelines for public health. Biographies, statistical highlights, and photos for the previous 11 classes of inductees can be found at www.bbhof.org.uk.
Official Comments on the Announcement
Gabriel Fidler, BBHOF Chair
‘The quality of the candidates on the British Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is clear, given that this year’s inductees include the all-time home run leader, Maikel Azcuy, a two-way star of a professional league in Julian Dodwell, a clutch-hitting pitcher in Martyn Dutton, and J.G. Lee, an England player who raised large sums in support of injured soldiers in WWI.
‘Moreover, the four selections highlight the rich history of baseball in Britain as they cover 12 decades and 35 separate competitions for the English and British national teams. They include members of 12 British Championship-winning teams, from Tottenham Hotspur in 1908 to Southampton Mustangs in 2016.
‘As research continues into the almost 300-year history of baseball in Britain, we look forward to telling the stories of other baseball stars and pioneers and honouring local heroes from grassroots organisers to British sporting legends.’
BBHOF by the Numbers
- There are three categories for induction: Baseball Players, Coaches, Manages, Umpires, and Other Officials, and Game Builders. Election is through the selection on a simple majority of the ballots.
- In 2021, the Board of Electors added three new members, bringing the total to 15. The full list of electors is available on the BBHOF homepage.
- Five criteria are considered for induction, with election to the Hall of Fame reserved for “superlative contributions to and/or performances in the game of baseball in Great Britain”.
- Categories and criteria may be viewed at: http://www.bbhof.org.uk/files/bbhof_induction.pdf.
- This ballot marks the sixth consecutive year with at least two candidates elected.
- The latest group of inductees continues a trend of player-dominated classes, with 17 of the last 19 successful nominees entering under the “Baseball Players” category. Of the first 25 men and women enshrined, almost half (12) were from the other two classifications.
- The modern and historical committees consider an average of 15 candidates and make an average of 4 selections per ballot. In 2020, 16 nominees were listed, 11 on the modern ballot.
About the British Baseball Hall of Fame (BBHOF)
In 2019, only a few weeks after the historic London Series, the sport celebrated the 270th Anniversary of the first recorded baseball game in history, which took place on 12 Sep. 1749 in Walton-on-Thames. The rich history of the sport since then—including a total of 92 known national champions between 1890 and 2021—led to the formation of the BBHOF by Project COBB founder Joe Gray, for the purpose of ‘honouring our history, inspiring the future’. Its Board of Electors includes 15 members, all distinguished members of the British baseball community. Nominees may be proposed by members of the public, while electors and a panel of Regional Experts also recommend, research, and compose biographies of potential inductees. The Hall is endorsed by the national governing body of the sport, the British Baseball Federation.
About Project COBB
Project COBB is the archive for baseball in the UK, including the official archival resource for Great Britain Baseball national teams. Those interested in the broader history of baseball in Britain—including a list of all known national champions between 1890-2020, a wide variety of historical documents, statistics, published research, and much more—should visit www.projectcobb.org.uk. If you have any records, statistics, clippings, programmes, or other items of interest not already featured in the archive that you are willing to scan, loan, or donate, you are encouraged to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of the Project COBB Photo Archive and Joe Gray.