Baseball in the Netherlands

Baseball in the Netherlands

Baseball in the Netherlands started in by|1911 in Amsterdam. The first league (now the Honkbal Hoofdklasse) began in by|1922.



The driving force in the early days of Dutch baseball was J.C.G. Grasé of Amsterdam. After discovering baseball while on vacation in the United States, 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 Grasé founded the Dutch Baseball Union. Grasé was also the founder of the oldest still existing baseball club in Europe, Quick Amsterdam (March 1, 1913). Through the early years the Dutch Baseball Union and Quick Amsterdam were synonymous.

The first official competition was played in 1922. The major league was formed out of four clubs that year: Ajax (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 was only played in Amsterdam. Later the game was introduced in Haarlem as well. These two cities dominated Dutch baseball until 1963.

In 1925 a ship of the American Navy visited the harbour of Amsterdam. Players of Blue White heard this news and invited the sailors to a game of baseball. After one inning the Americans led 14-0. After two hours of play, the final score was 27-2.

In the early days the pitcher was the one who could throw the fastest ball. In those days, it was considered unsportsmanlike to bunt or to take advantage of the lack of control by a pitcher. It was considered a humiliation to get a base on balls. It was far better to hit a fly out than to reach first base on four balls. Baseball was played in shorts.

At the end of the 1937 season, EDO from Haarlem and Blue White from Amsterdam played each other to determine the Dutch champion. The game was played with a two-hour time limit. The coach of EDO thought that he had won the game after the final out of an inning, but according to the umpire there were three more minutes to be played, so a new inning began. The players of EDO were furious and Blue White ended up winning and became Dutch champion. But 1937 was the last year that a game lasted two hours. Starting in 1938, games in the major league lasted nine innings.

In 1939 a team of Mormon missionaries from Salt Lake City 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).

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


After the German invasion in May 1940, baseball went through a hard period. As the war continued, baseball materials became scarce. Starting in 1943, baseballs were made of some kind of rubber with a cork center. The balls, which were made by the tire company Vredenstein, could absorb little more than a couple of hits before breaking apart. Because the balls didn't have seams, some pitchers would cut out a small piece in order to throw a curve. Clubs were forced to mend cracked bats with screws or whatever other materials were handy.

After WWII the Americans helped Europe rebuild with the Marshall Plan. They also sent baseball materials to the Netherlands including uniforms, bats, balls, etc. Teams like OVVO from Amsterdam and HHC from Haarlem played in red uniforms.

Many games were played against military teams. In their own league the Dutch could hold their own, but not against the better skilled Americans. The pitcher Han Urbanus was the best Dutch pitcher in these days. When you managed to get a hit against him, you had a starting spot in the Dutch national team. A Dutch American journalist, Albert Balink, managed two trips to spring training camp for Han Urbanus. This journalist knew that the Dutch would need a lot more experience to improve. Martin Jole, one of the players who could hit Hans Urbanus, went to a spring training camp of the Cincinnati Reds. He showed Dutch players how swinging a bat day after day could improve their hitting.

Albert Balink also introduced medals for the best players and hitters. In this way he taught 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.

Dutch baseball was dominated from 1949 to 1953 by OVVO from Amsterdam which claimed five consecutive national titles. In 1955 the club won it all one last time. They would never win another championship again.

The post-war help of the Americans helped the Dutch earn their 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 their game. The number of baseball fields built around the country increased dramatically.

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

Prior to 1963, baseball was dominated by teams from Amsterdam and Haarlem. But in 1963 Sparta from Rotterdam became Dutch champion. From 1963 to 1974 Sparta clinched nine national titles, a record not exceeded until 1985 by the Haarlem Nicols. This club is the result of a merger between EHS and EDO, both located in Haarlem. The new club will play its 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.

Champions from 1940-1969

*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


In 1970, a Dutch-born pitcher named Bert Blyleven made the California Angels roster. He had a very successful Major League career which lasted until 1992. 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. These three had a big influence on Sparta, but after 1974 it was over.

At the end of the 1972 season, the soccer club Ajax decided to cut lose the baseball branch. This was the end of a legendary ball club. Soccer players like Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens did play baseball. Cruyff was a decent pitcher.

At the end of the 1977 season, there was some turmoil at O.V.V.O. from Amsterdam. This baseball club is a branch of a soccer club. The soccer (amateur) club was involved in a scandal as the amateur club seems to pay its soccer players. The baseball branch does not agree and big names like Han Urbanus decided to leave and find 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 though that the field would be too far away, but ultimately the new club will built a baseball field (Quick Amsterdam, as mentioned before, now plays on this field).

In the meantime O.V.V.O. would not be persuaded to take a step back to a lower division. The Amstel Tigers started its first season in the "overgangsklasse"; a league one level lower than the Major League. With players such as the ones mentioned above, it did not come as a surprise that the club went to the highest league the next season (1979). Because O.V.V.O. refused to take a step back, the 1978 season was a disaster and the team was demoted. The Amstel Tigers were 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, shiploads of journalists asked him all kind of questions. They wanted to know how he did come this far. 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 in baseball's Walhalla lasted 55 innings. After his Major League career, Remmerswaal went to Italy. He played for several teams for many years.

The eighties and nineties were bad decades for many baseball clubs. In 1986, Charles Urbanus jr. decided that it will be his last season. In the long run (2 years) this was a huge blow for his club, the Amstel Tigers. Urbanus was a magnet for players. It was an honour to play with him. But an Amstel Tigers without him is not so big anymore. After the 1988, season the club did not field a decent team. The members voted for a merger with H.C.A.W. from Bussum, a club that did demote to the lower league. In this way the club played in the Major League in 1989 again. None of the members of Amstel Tigers played for the new merger club H.C.A.W. – Tigers. In 1988 Giants from Diemen moved to Almere. This move indicated the herald of a new club, Almere '90. Strangly, the new club did not play in the Major League for the last 12 years of the 20th century. In 1994 the legendary Haarlem Nicols declared bankruptcy.

In 1981 Neptunus (baseball branch founded in 1942) from Rotterdam won the pennant for the first time. It was the first of eleven titles in the next decades.

Champions from 1970–present

*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 Neptunus Rotterdam


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