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Nov '12 12

Five Big Leaguers teach baseball to 500 kids in Rotterdam

Europeans in the USA Comments Off on Five Big Leaguers teach baseball to 500 kids in Rotterdam

by Pim van Nes

For the third time since 2010 Dutch pitcher Rick van den Hurk brought fellow Big Leaguers from USA to Europe and for the second time Rotterdam hosted clinics for baseball juniors. More than 500 kids all in their club’s uniforms came from across the Netherlands and a few tens traveled from Belgium in order to meet their MLB heroes. Pittsburg Pirates pitcher Van den Hurk was accompanied by compatriot Roger Bernadina, outfielder for Washington Nationals, Italian thirdbaseman Alex Liddi from Seattle Mariners, USA pitcher Jeremy Guthrie from Kansas City Royals and USA outfielder Chris Dickerson from New York Yankees. Everybody missed two times participant Gregory Halman, who tragically died in Rotterdam on November 21 last year, but his mother Hanny Suidgeest and his sister Eva Halman visited Big Leaguers clinic last Saturday and spoke with the players and director Wim van den Hurk. Special for them was to meet Alex Liddi again, Gregory’s friend and room mate during their Seattle Mariners years.

Rotterdam was also one of the hosting cities for the first ever edition of Big Leaguers Tour in Europe: 2010. Already during the local clinic that year, Rotterdam Topsport vice director Hans Zoethoutmaar informed Mister-Baseball.com, that he would like to welcome those Big Leaguers every year and now he has an agreement for three consequtive years: 2012, 2013 and 2014. Wim van den Hurk, Big Leaguers director in Europe and father of the Pittsburgh pitcher Rick told Mister-Baseball.com on Sunday afternoon: “This year in Rotterdam we have received over 500 boys and girls. Space and time permitting we can offer more clinics to more kids here in Rotterdam. We encounter an excellent cooperation with Rotterdam Topsport staff and we are happy to stay in Bilderberg hotel here. Later this week we will travel to London for clinics on next Saturday and Sunday. Delegates from UK were attending the sessions in Rotterdam in order to have the right impression. For future editions we can combine clinics in Rotterdam with clinics in Paris and Dubai. We have been talking with people in Dubai for 2012 already, but we decided to postpone further discussions”.

The Big Leaguers weekend in Rotterdam started on Friday with a reception in the prestigious Burger Zaal of Rotterdam townhall, hosted by vice mayor Antoinette Laan who welcomed the five baseball players and US consul general in the Netherlands Randy W. Berry (picture). The players showed to be professional not only in baseball, but also in taking questions from both entertainer Ronald Buijs and their audience: invitees of Rotterdam municipality and representatives of various press media. After this Master Class performance by MLB players and speeches by officials mentioned before, all guests socialized in a drinks and snacks meeting in very same townhall. The two Dutch Major League players Roger Bernadina and Rick van den Hurk told journalists that they look forward to join the Netherlands national team in World Baseball Classic games, providing their club managements in Washington and Pittsburgh allow them to interrupt spring training by their professional organisations. Netherlands technical director Robert Eenhoorn and Brian Farley, manager of his IBAF World Champion team, represented the national baseball movement and so did Gerard Vaandrager for the local World Port Tournament, which welcomed him back as founder and chairman.

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