Athletic Bedlington Baseball Club, normally known as Athletic Bedlington or Athletic, is a professional baseball club located in Bedlington, Dunchurchshire, Ianoia. They were the first team from Bedlington to turn professional in 1907.
Athletic Bedlington was founded on Saturday the 24th of March 1906, by members of the middle and upper classes as a gentleman’s club, where gentlemen could gather, play baseball, and engage in social networking. The club played it’s first game against Gogoyan Sports a few weeks later, winning 9-2. They garnered the nickname “The B’s” due to the large B on their jerseys.
Following the success of numerous exhibition games, Athletic Bedlington was chosen to join an expanded Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) in 1907, a sudden move by the league following the request by former I-League club Donyatt-Burstwick wishing to join after they were voted out a few months earlier. Bedlington were thrust into the limelight in the opening series, being drawn away from home to the former I-League club, returning home with a respectable 2 draws and a loss. Their first professional home game was against Ince Ironworks in which they won, 5-1. Despite the draw of the much more well known Sharks, Athletic Bedlington surprised many and were the talk of the league by finishing a respectable 7th in their first season, achieving a 31-14-33 record.
Despite a slow start to the 1908 campaign, which saw Bedlington lose 7 of it’s first 10 games, the team recovered well and flirted with 5th place towards the back-half of the season before eventually finishing 6th. That proved to be the highest finish the club would achieve in the league, slipping to 8th in 1909 after once again having a slow start to the season; going winless in their first 6 games, before spending the majority of the year in 10th. 1910 was the last season the club achieved a winning record, going 34-13-31 to claim 7th.
Following the 1910 campaign, the team officially declared they would no longer be recruiting Bedlington-born players only. This caused a fractious relationship within the club and supporter base, with many believing the club should retain it’s “Bedlington-born only” approach. This caused a breakaway club, Bedlington Pure of Heart, known colloquially as Pure of Heart, to be formed, which folded due to financial pressure a few years later.
The loss of many players and fans saw a downturn in fortunes for the club as they completed the 1911 season in 10th – a position they never sat above all year – with a 30-9-39 record. They even spent August rooted to the foot of the NBA table having won just three games and drawn 2 in the previous 17. The following year they faired worse, dropping to 12th at season’s end, subsequently finishing a place lower in each of the next two seasons to end the 1914 campaign – the final season before the league because the de facto second tier of baseball in Ianoia – dead last.
Athletic Bedlington play their home games at Highlington Common, that was originally a piece of uncultivated land between four connecting railway lines in the center of Bedlington. The railway lines have since been slewed away, as well as beneath, the stadium, and the old railway corridors have been converted into green spaces known as Highlington Park, another name for the ballpark. The grandstand, that spans along the field’s foul lines, extending from the left field to the right field, used to consist of wooden seating with bench-style arrangements. In the 1970s, the club updated the stadium to more modern standards following numerous fires caused by discarded cigarettes.
An expansive outfield surrounded by 11 foot high walls that drop to 10 feet high in right field severely reduces home runs to both left and right-handed hitters. Triples are much more common, especially compared to other ballparks in the country, giving the stadium the nickname “Triples Common”. This pitcher-friendly park underwent a slight adjustment in 1962, moving the bullpens from behind the grandstands near home plate, to beyond the left field wall, bringing in the dimensions slightly to accommodate the change.