by Pim van Nes
As a player of the Amsterdam Pirates, young Rikkert Faneyte won the 1987 and 1990 editions of the Netherlands major league, before he left his home country to try a career as a pro ball player in the States. As the first Dutch player since Win Remmerswaal with the Boston Red Sox in 1979, Faneyte managed to make it to the Major Leagues as an outfielder with the San Francisco Giants. He debuted in 1993 at the age of 24 and he played his last game in 1996 more or less simultaneously with Robert Eenhoorn (1994-1997) in the Majors. As junior players they were each other’s opponents in club teams, but in national selections they were teammates and even roommates.
By the time, that Eenhoorn this year is finalizing his career as a coach, first with his club Neptunus and now as manager of the Netherlands national team, Rikkert Faneyte is debuting as a club coach. Of course with the Amsterdam Pirates, the club that made him grew up in baseball among so many other local talents. It took the club some time before Faneyte accepted the invitation to board the Pirates ship as skipper of a new selection, prepared by club president John Witte and supported by new sponsor L&D. Without special goals fixed, the modest ex-Giant just made his team play and enjoy ball games in regular season, but by doing so his ship sailed into post season as third of the final standings. In the playoffs semi-finals Neptunus was beaten in the decisive fifth game in Rotterdam.
The best-of-five Holland Series started bad for Amsterdam, as defending champion Kinheim took the lead and Olympic All Star catcher Sidney de Jong got injured early in game one. Without him the re-shuffled team tied the score and won the game in the last inning 4-3. Game two in Haarlem was played again without Sidney de Jong, who was expected to come back in the upcoming weekend for games four and five. Yes, if necessary. Now it was visiting Amsterdam to take the lead early and they carried it forward to a 6-3 victory, extending the lead in the series to 2-0. On Wednesday night in game three, Kinheim manager Ben Thijssen had to confide the mound to pitcher David Bergman, who had recovered from game one during three days only. A risk as a result of repeated re-scheduling of playoff games as from a week ago, but Kinheim needed their best pitcher to survive game three and the series.
Bergman started by striking out leadoff batter Wesley Connor, but allowed bases to Maikel Benner, Marvin Bleij, Fausto Alvarez, Bas de Jong and Kenny Berkenbosch. All hits, except a walk for Bleij, who reached a game batting average of 1.000 hitting four for four in the remaining at bats. All hits, including a Cuban homerun to right field on Bergman’s first pitch to Alvarez with Benner and Bleij on bases, led to four stunning runs in the first inning. Amsterdam went on to extend the score in every inning, except in the third when the first Kinheim reliever Duko Jansen managed to get control over the Amsterdam batters.
In the fourth, however, Benner and Bleij opened with two singles and they scored again on a sacrifice fly by Bas de Jong and on the pressure provoked by steal attempts. An error at second base opened the door to home plate for Bleij from third base: 7-0 for Amsterdam. In the seventh inning Amsterdam drove in another three runs to reach 12-0 and closer Pim Walsma saved the seven-inning game and the shutout for L&D Amsterdam. A new Dutch champion in the 21st century since the titles gathered by Neptunus and Kinheim.
Winning pitcher was Canadian Ryan Murphy, who conceded only two hits during his six innings: singles by Vince Rooi in the second and Danny Rombley in the fifth. The third Kinheim single came from Denny Beljaards off closer Walsma, but all were in vain. All Amsterdam batters had at least one hit and multiple hit games had Benner and Bleij (4 each), Kenny Berkenbosch (3) and with two each for Alvarez, De Jong, Pavel van Zaane, Zair Koeiman and Remco Draijer. Cuban slugger Fausto Alvarez Rizo batted in four runs and scored twice, including the twelfth.
Federation president Ruud van Zetten handed medals to the Pirates players, the Series MVP Award to Ryan Murphy and the Championship Cup to captain Sidney de Jong. Next year’s L&D Amsterdam Pirates will head to Europe, according to the players singing in front of their dugout.
Pim van Nes
Baseball writer for
Photo: © Ron Wickert, www.eott.nl