Baseball in The Netherlands - History - 1970 - Present


In 1970, a Dutch-born pitcher named Bert Blyleven made the Minnesota Twins roster. He had a very successful Major League career which lasted until 1992, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. He was, however, raised in California and never played in the Dutch league. The first Dutch Major League Baseball player who actually grew up and learned the game in the Netherlands was Win Remmerswaal, who pitched briefly for the Boston Red Sox in 1979 and 1980.

Dutch baseball was dominated by Sparta from Rotterdam in the early 70s. The "magnificent three" from the Dutch Antilles were unstoppable: Hudson John, Simon Arrindell and Hamilton Richardson, who all had a big influence on Sparta, but by 1974, the era was over.

At the end of the 1972 season, the football club Ajax decided to cut loose the baseball branch, ending the ball club.

At the end of the 1977 season, there was some turmoil at OVVO from Amsterdam. This baseball club was also a branch of a football club. The football club, an amateur side, decided to turn professional and begin paying players. The baseball branch did not agree, and big names, like Han Urbanus, decided to leave and founded a new club: Amstel Tigers. Other players like Charles Urbanus Jr. (pitcher/shortstop), Jan Hijzelendoorn (pitcher), Paul Smit (catcher) and Don Wedman decided to follow suit, along with almost the entire team. The Dutch Baseball Federation tried to mediate, but the players did not come back. The city of Amsterdam appointed a terrain in the Western part of the city. The Amstel Tigers thought that field would be too far away, but ultimately the new club built a baseball field there, which is now used by Quick Amsterdam.

In the meantime, OVVO would not be persuaded to take a step back to a lower division. The Amstel Tigers started their first season in the overgangsklasse; a league one level lower than the hoofdklasse. With such strong players, the Tigers were quickly promoted to the top division in 1979. OVVO's 1978 season was a disaster and the team was relegated. The Amstel Tigers went on to become champions in 1979, 1980, and 1986.

In 1979, a Dutch pitcher made his MLB debut on the mound in Milwaukee. The Red Sox were trailing 4-1, as they called pitcher Win Remmerswaal. His debut was a good one, even though his team lost 5-3. After the game, journalists seemed fascinated that a Dutch player could have come so far in the game. The MLB career of Win Remmerswaal only lasted two seasons, due to injuries. After the 1980 season, Remmerswaal pitched 22 games (3 victories and 1 loss). His short career among baseball's elite lasted 55 innings. After his Major League career, Remmerswaal went to Italy, and played on several teams for many years.

The eighties and nineties were bad decades for many baseball clubs. In 1986, Charles Urbanus, Jr. decided that it would be his last season. This was a huge blow for his club, the Amstel Tigers. Urbanus was a magnet for players, who considered it an honour to play with him. But an Amstel Tigers without him was not as attractive to new talent and the club lost competitiveness. Eventually, the members voted for a merger with HCAW from Bussum, a club that was playing the lower league. The new club, HCAW Tigers, were promoted to the major league in 1989 and would go on to win the title in 1996 and 1998, albeit without any of the old Amstel Tigers players. Haarlem Nicols were particularly dominant in the 1980s with seven pennants over ten years, but declared bankruptcy in 1994, just five years after winning their last pennant.

In 1981, Neptunus Rotterdam won the pennant for the first time since the baseball team's foundation in 1942. Neptunus began to dominate the championship during the 1990s and 2000s, winning eleven pennants in total including seven consecutively between 1999 and 2005.

Champions 1970-2011
Year Club
1970 Haarlem Nicols
1971 Sparta Rotterdam
1972 Sparta Rotterdam
1973 Sparta Rotterdam
1974 Sparta Rotterdam
1975 Haarlem Nicols
1976 Haarlem Nicols
1977 Haarlem Nicols
1978 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
1979 Amstel Tijgers
1980 Amstel Tijgers
1981 Neptunus Rotterdam
1982 Haarlem Nicols
1983 Haarlem Nicols
1984 Haarlem Nicols
1985 Haarlem Nicols
1986 Amstel Tijgers
1987 Pirates Amsterdam
1988 Haarlem Nicols
1989 Haarlem Nicols
1990 Pirates Amsterdam
1991 Neptunus Rotterdam
1992 ADO Den Haag
1993 Neptunus Rotterdam
1994 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
1995 Neptunus Rotterdam
1996 H.C.A.W Bussum Tijgers
1997 Pioneers Hoofddorp
1998 H.C.A.W Bussum Tijgers
1999 Neptunus Rotterdam
2000 Neptunus Rotterdam
2001 Neptunus Rotterdam
2002 Neptunus Rotterdam
2003 Neptunus Rotterdam
2004 Neptunus Rotterdam
2005 Neptunus Rotterdam
2006 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
2007 S.C. Kinheim Haarlem
2008 Pirates Amsterdam
2009 Neptunus Rotterdam
2010 Neptunus Rotterdam
2011 Pirates Amsterdam

Read more about this topic:  Baseball In The Netherlands, History, 1970

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