• The History of Dutch baseball

    History of Dutch baseball
    It came up to my mind to tell you guys something about the history of Dutch baseball. Mainly because I think it is a unknow history to you.

    I will divide my posts in several periods of the history.

    History of Dutch Baseball


    The driving force in the early days of Dutch baseball was mr. Grasé. This man from Amsterdam went to the United States for a vacation. There he saw a couple of baseball games.
    Very impressed, he introduced the game in the Netherlands in 1911. Because of his profession as teacher of the English language, he could translate the difficult rules of the game.
    The first official games were played in 1911.

    On March 12, 1912 Emile Grasé founded the Dutch Baseball Union. Mr. Grasé was also the founder of the oldest still existing baseball club in Europe, Quick Amsterdam (March 1, 1913). In those early years the Dutch Baseball Union and Quick Amsterdam were quite the same.

    The first official competition was played in 1922. The major league was formed out of four clubs that year: Ajax (yes a branch of the famous soccer club), Blue White (also a soccer club), Hercules and Quick Amsterdam. Quick Amsterdam became the first Dutch champion.
    In these early years, people could talk for days about a scoreless inning.

    During the first years, baseball is only played in Amsterdam. Later the game is introduced in Haarlem as well. These two cities will dominate Dutch baseball until 1963.

    In 1925 a ship of the American Navy comes to the harbour of Amsterdam. Players of Blue White hear this news and go the the ship to invite the sailors to a game of baseball. It will be a big deception for the Dutch. After one inning the Americans are leading 14-0. After two hours of play, the final score is 27-2. The two points have been given by the Americans.

    In the early days the pitcher was the one who could throw the fastest ball. In those days, you were considered a bad sport if you bunted or took advantage of the lack of control by a pitcher. It was considered a humiliation to get a BB. It was far better to hit a fly out than to reach the bases on four balls. Baseball was played in shorts (The White Sox were not unique!).

    At the end of the 1937 season, one final game will decide who will be the Dutch champion. EDO from Haarlem and Blue White from Amsterdam, will battle each other. The games are still played by the hour. A game lasts two hours. The coach of EDO thinks that he has won the game after the final out of an inning. But according to the umpire there are three more minutes to be played, so a new inning is about to start. The players of EDO are furious and when your in such a state of mind, it is hard to play baseball. You can guess it… Blue White wins and becomes Dutch champion. But 1937 was the last year that a game lasted two hours. From 1938 games in the major league will last nine innings.

    In 1939 a team of Mormon preachers played in the Dutch league under the name Seagulls. They only lost two games (vs Blue White from Amsterdam 7-1 and vs. HHC from Haarlem 6-2).

    Dutch champions from 1922-1939:

    1922 Quick Amsterdam
    1923 Blue White Amsterdam
    1924 Ajax Amsterdam
    1925 Quick Amsterdam
    1926 A.G.H.C. Amsterdam (this was a high school team)
    1927 A.G.H.C. Amsterdam
    1928 Ajax Amsterdam
    1929 S.C. Haarlem Haarlem
    1930 S.C. Haarlem Haarlem
    1931 Blue White Amsterdam
    1932 Blue White Amsterdam
    1933 V.V.G.A. Amsterdam (team of civil servants)
    1934 S.C. Haarlem Haarlem
    1935 Quick Amsterdam
    1936 H.H.C. Haarlem
    1937 Blue White Amsterdam
    1938 Blue White Amsterdam
    1939 Seagulls

    The picture below is one of the first baseball games ever played in the Netherlands. This is now the Museumplein (museum square) in Amsterdam, near the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

    ---------- Post added at 06:40 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:27 PM ----------

    1940 - 1970

    After the German invasion in May 1940, baseball will live through a hard period, just like the Dutch people. As the war continues, baseball materials get more scarce. From 1943 baseballs were made of some kind of rubber with a cork center. Two hits and the balls did break. These balls were made by the tyre company Vredenstein. These balls didn’t have any seams so some pitchers cut out a small piece, so they could throw some curves. Because baseball materials were very scarce, clubs were forced to mend cracked bats with screws or whatsoever.

    After WWII the Americans didn’t only help the Dutch with the Marshall plan, they also sent shiploads of baseball materials: uniforms in any kind of color, bats, balls etc. Teams like OVVO from Amsterdam and HHC from Haarlem played in red uniforms, a colour the Americans didn’t like in those days...

    Many games were played against military teams. In their own league, the Dutch could hit quite well, but against the Americans it seemed that hitting was a neglected part of the game.
    In their own league the Dutch could hit… except against one young pitcher: Han Urbanus. For the Dutch this guy was a phenomenon. When you managed to get a hit against him, you had a starting spot in the Dutch national team. An Dutch American journalist, Albert Balink, managed two trips to spring training camp for Han Urbanus. This journalist new that the Dutch would need this to improve. Another player, Martin Jole, went to a spring training camp of the Cincinnati Reds. This Martin Jole, was one of the players that could hit Han Urbanus. He learned the Dutch that swinging a bat day after day, would improve your hitting.
    Albert Balink did more for our beloved sport. He introduced medals for the best players and hitters. In this way he taught the Dutch that baseball is a sport of stats. In 1953 Han Urbanus got a phone call from the USA. The New York Giants had offered him a minor league contract. He refused… He preferred to teach his fellow countrymen what he had learned in the USA…

    From 1949 to 1953 OVVO from Amsterdam dominated Dutch baseball by clinching the national titles in these years. In 1955 the club will win it all one more time. After that year, they will never win a championship again.

    The help of the Americans resulted in the first European title in 1956. In Rome, Italy, Han Urbanus seemed a defensive force. And the Dutch batters did very well. Because of the European title, the Dutch were allowed to go to the Global World Series.
    American coaches like Ron Fraser and Bill Arce helped the Dutch to improve very much.
    Baseball fields were built everywhere, baseball fields with mounds. Before WWII the Dutch pitched out of a hole or just flat ground at best…

    In 1963 a real baseball stadium was built in Haarlem. This stadium would be the base of the Haarlem Baseball Week, a yearly event.

    Like said before until 1963 baseball was dominated by teams from Amsterdam and Haarlem. But suddenly in 1963 Sparta from Rotterdam became Dutch champion. From 1963 to 1974 the club will clinch nine national titles, a record only to be improved in 1985 by Haarlem Nicols. This club is the result of a merger between EHS and EDO, both located in Haarlem. The new club will play it’s home games in the new Pim Mulier Stadium.

    In the early sixties, each team played 14 games (!). One game every weekend. If your team had a dominating pitcher, he could win 12 of those 14 games and your team would win the pennant. So the few players who had visited the American spring training camps shouted that more games had to be played.

    Dutch champions from 1940-1970

    1940 S.C. Haarlem Haarlem
    1941 S.C. Haarlem Haarlem
    1942 Ajax Amsterdam
    1943 Blue White Amsterdam
    1944 Blue White Amsterdam
    1945 Blue White Amsterdam
    1946 Blue White Amsterdam
    1947 Schoten Haarlem
    1948 Ajax Amsterdam
    1949 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1950 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1951 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1952 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1953 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1954 E.H.S. Haarlem.
    1955 O.V.V.O Amsterdam
    1956 Schoten Haarlem
    1957 Schoten Haarlem
    1958 E.D.O. Haarlem
    1959 E.H.S. Haarlem
    1960 Schoten Haarlem
    1961 Schoten Haarlem
    1962 E.H.S. Haarlem
    1963 Sparta Rotterdam
    1964 Sparta Rotterdam
    1965 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1966 Sparta Rotterdam
    1967 Sparta Rotterdam
    1968 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1969 Sparta Rotterdam

    ---------- Post added at 07:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:40 PM ----------

    1970 –

    Dutch baseball is dominated by Sparta from Rotterdam in the first years of the seventies. The magnificent three from the Dutch Antilles are unstoppable: Hudson John, Simon Arrindell and Hamilton Richardson. These three had a big influence on Sparta. But after 1974 it will be over. The players of Sparta seem to be satisfied with 9 titles in 15 years. Sparta will no longer play an important role.

    At the end of the 1972 season the soccer club Ajax, decides to cut lose the baseball branch. This is the end of a legendary ball club. Soccer players like Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens did play baseball. Cruyff was a decent catcher. Even with baseball he wanted to keep control of the game.

    Then at the end of the 1977 season there is some turmoil at O.V.V.O. from Amsterdam. This baseball club is a branch of a soccer club. The soccer (amateur) club is involved in a scandal. The club seems to pay it’s soccer players. The baseball branch doesn’t agree and big names like Han Urbanus decide to leave the club and found a new club: Amstel Tigers. Players like
    Charles Urbanus jr. (pitcher/shortstop), Jan Hijzelendoorn (pitcher), Paul Smit (catcher) and Don Wedman decide to join. Almost the complete major league team will follow. The Dutch Baseball Federation tries to mediate, but the rebels will not come back. The city of Amsterdam appoints a terrain in the Western part of the city. First Amstel Tigers think that the field will be too far away. But in the end the new club will build a great baseball field (Quick Amsterdam, mentioned before, now plays on this great field).
    In the meantime O.V.V.O. can not be persuaded to take a step back to a lower division. Amstel Tigers will start it’s first season in the “overgangsklasse”. A league, one level lower than the Major League. With players like the ones mentioned above it won’t come as a surprise that the club will go to the highest league the next season (1979). Because O.V.V.O. refuses to take a step back, the 1978 season will be a disaster and the team will be demoted.
    Amstel Tigers will be champion in 1979, 1980 and 1986.

    In 1979 a Dutch pitcher makes his MLB debut on the mound in Milwaukee. The Red Sox are trailing 4-1 as they call pitcher Win Remmerswaal. His debut will be a good one eventhough his team will lose 5-3. After the game shiploads of journalists ask him all kind of questions. They want to know how he did come this far. Unfortunately the MLB career of Win Remmerswaal will only last two seasons. Injuries and especially the hard life of a ballplayer (travelling, drugs, etc.) will cost him dearly. After the 1980 season, Remmerswaal will have pitched 22 games (3 victories and 1 loss). His short career in baseball's Walhalla, has lasted 55 innings. After his Major League career, Remmerswaal went to Italy. He played for several teams for many years, making some money with what he could do best.

    The eighties and nineties will be bad decades for many baseball clubs. In 1986, Charles Urbanus jr. decides that it will be his last season. On the long run (2 years) this will be a huge blow for his club, Amstel Tigers. Urbanus was a magnet for players. It was an honour to play with him. But an Amstel Tigers without him, suddenly is not so big anymore. After the 1988 season the club will not be capable to field a decent team. The members decide to vote for a merger with H.C.A.W. from Bussum, a club that did demote to the lower league. In this way the club will play in the Major League in 1989 again. None of the members of Amstel Tigers will play for the new merger club H.C.A.W. – Tigers.
    In 1988 Giants from Diemen will move to Almere. This move will be the herald of a new club, Almere ’90. Strangly, the new club will not play in the Major League for the last 12 years of the 20th century.

    In 1994 the legendary Haarlem Nicols will be declared bankrupt. The pay of the players will cost the club dearly. One of the big names that have played for the Haarlem Nicols is Stan Bahnsen. He played one season with the club in 1992.

    In 1981 Neptunus (baseball branch founded in 1942) from Rotterdam will win the pennant for the first time. It will be the first of eleven titles in the next decades. Because of a good youth program and a very professional approach, the club will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Dutch champions from 1970 – now.

    1970 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1971 Sparta Rotterdam
    1972 Sparta Rotterdam
    1973 Sparta Rotterdam
    1974 Sparta Rotterdam
    1975 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1976 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1977 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1978 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
    1979 Amstel Tijgers Amsterdam
    1980 Amstel Tijgers Amsterdam
    1981 Neptunus Rotterdam
    1982 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1983 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1984 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1985 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1986 Amstel Tijgers Amsterdam
    1987 Pirates Amsterdam
    1988 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1989 Haarlem Nicols Haarlem
    1990 Pirates Amsterdam
    1991 Neptunus Rotterdam
    1992 ADO The Hague
    1993 Neptunus Rotterdam
    1994 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
    1995 Neptunus Rotterdam
    1996 H.C.A.W Bussum
    1997 Pioniers Hoofddorp
    1998 H.C.A.W. Bussum
    1999 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2000 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2001 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2002 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2003 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2004 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2005 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2006 Kinheim Haarlem
    2007 Kinheim Haarlem
    2008 Pirates Amsterdam
    2009 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2010 Neptunus Rotterdam
    2011 Pirates Amsterdam
    2012 Kinheim Haarlem
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The History of Dutch baseball started by yankeebiscuitfan View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. nebo86's Avatar
      nebo86 -
      Great work YBF!