Strelda Baseball Club, normally known as Strelda, is a professional baseball club located in Warnborough, Dunchurchshire, Ianoia. The club was a founding member of the Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) in 1900, and was still part of the league when it rebranded as the Nationwide League, which formed the second tier of professional baseball in Ianoia in 1915. They are affectionately known as the “Wild Purples”, due to the color of the flower the club is named after.
Founded on December 7th, 1899, Strelda aimed to shine a spotlight on the city’s talented baseball players, providing them with opportunities to showcase their skills on a national level. At the time, the western region of Ianoia lacked significant baseball clubs, making Strelda’s endeavor to join the upcoming Nationwide Baseball Alliance (NBA) in 1900 all the more significant. Despite having no prior experience in competitive matches, the Wild Purples quickly organized two friendly games against the Bay Young Boys (now known as Thelveton Young Boys) and Woodmers End, emerging victorious in all four encounters.
The club played its first professional game as members of the Nationwide Baseball Alliance on the 7th of April 1900 as a double-header, emerging victorious in the first game, 6-5, away to Leekcliff & Salt. They won the second game, 7-6, after trailing 6-4 heading into the top of the 8th before First Baseman Frederick Davies hit the clubs first home run, a 3-run blast to left field, to give the club the lead. Strelda didn’t win their first home game until the 20th of May, their 8th home game of the season, defeating Worcester Bank, 7-5, on their way to an 8th place finish in the league with a record of 23-31.
In their second year, 1901, Strelda experienced remarkable success, marking their most triumphant season until 1914. With a record of 29 wins and 25 losses, they secured a commendable 4th place. Beginning the year with an impressive sweep against Great McCutchen, Strelda maintained their position at the top of the NBA standings until the end of April. They appeared poised to secure the runner-up position, but during the final weekend, they suffered two defeats at home against Red Flag. This setback caused them to slip behind both Red Flag and Canons on the Friday, ultimately missing out on the desired second-place finish.
Despite finishing under 500 in 1902, Strelda’s season culminated in a 5th place finish, before they slumped to 10th – and last, in 1903, winning a paltry 7 games at home, including a streak of 3 wins in 23 fixtures during the months of May and June. The Wild Purples won one extra game the following year to finish 9th, 8 points clear of bottom-placed NN Kingsdown, a feat they repeated in 1905.
1906 saw the NBA expand by two clubs, and Strelda experienced an upturn in fortunes, fluctuating in the middle of the table before a run of good results through June and July had them holding third for an extended period. Unfortunately, the form wasn’t sustainable and the club suffered a 6-game losing streak which saw them drop to 7th where they eventually finished with a 33-33 record. The league expanded again the following year, and introduced tied games. Strelda experienced their first tied game on Saturday the 6th of April, drawing 2-2 with Kirtling Hurlers. Sitting mid-table once more, the club suffered a run of 1 win in 11 games in July, falling down the table to sit second-last, before sweeping Ince Ironworks on the final weekend to place 11th.
Over the subsequent five years, the club’s standing remained in the lower half of the league, declining to 12th place in 1908. However, there was a temporary improvement as they reached 9th place in 1909, before securing two consecutive 8th place finishes. 1912 marked the end of this lackluster phase, even though they struggled in the initial half of the season, consistently occupying the last position. In the latter half, their performance showed a modest improvement, but they never managed to rise above 10th place. Nonetheless, a strong finish was achieved by winning eight out of their final nine games, ultimately concluding the season on a more positive note.
After a lousy start to the 1913 campaign, which included a run of 4 straight games without scoring, Strelda sat 10th at the halfway point of the season. The club went on a tear in the second-half however, losing just 10 times in the remaining 39 fixtures, to achieve a 6th place finish, their highest finish since 1902. The final year of the NBA before it rebranded to the Nationwide League saw Strelda finish 4th, their highest ever finish and best performance in the pre-second tier era. A string of 13 straight victories in June saw Strelda leading the league before slowly slipping down the standings with one win in 7 games during the month of September.
Located adjacent to the eastern coast of Warnborough, Olive Wharf serves as the home ground for Strelda. Positioned in close proximity to the city’s prominent fishing port, the stadium finds itself surrounded by fashionable fish restaurants and a bustling fish market. However, the club faces a persistent challenge in the form of seagulls. In response, the club constructed awnings over the grandstands encircling the playing area in 1967. These sun-shade sails, ahead of their time in terms of modernity, not only provide shade but also deter seagulls from roosting and nesting above the seating area.
Renowned as a pitcher-friendly park, the distinct characteristics of Olive Wharf’s baseball field contribute to its reputation. The outfield, in particular, presents a formidable challenge for hitters. Enclosed by towering 12-foot-high walls, the deep outfield poses a considerable obstacle for sluggers attempting to send the ball over the boundaries.
One notable feature that affects the dynamics of the game is the extra deep right field foul pole. Positioned a substantial 354 feet away from home plate, it demands exceptional power and accuracy from left-handed hitters aiming to launch home runs down the right field line. The extended distance serves as a significant deterrent, resulting in a noticeable drop in home run production for left-handed batters compared to their right-handed counterparts.