by Pim van Nes
Six European nations have delegated their best clubs to Rotterdam for a round robin tournament, in which the best two qualify for the Final Four in Barcelona in September. Yesterday we met two players from the Spanish club Tenerife Marlins after their second European game in the Familie Stadion.
Both players, Nestor Perez and Richard Montiel, were born in Latin American countries and learned to play baseball first at the age of three years. Simply by throwing and catching a ball at home and school, just like here in Europe we first kick a ball. Richard Montiel was born in Maracaibo in Venezuela (1979), where he went to school when he was five years old. There he was prepared for baseball as a pitcher and third base man.
Richard Montiel: “Now I defend first base in my Marlins club team, but since school time in Maracaibo I have playedin so many places and countries that I do not swiftly recall in which cities exactly during my professional career in USA. I was a catcher contracted by Cleveland Indians and they let me play in their Minor League clubs for three years. Later I went back to Venezuela and played at first base for the Cardinales in the province of Lara. In 2003 I moved to Spain and settled at Tenerife to play baseball and find additional work. When I am off the field, I work as a technical coordinator for a cultural centre in my city. During my seven seasons with the Marlins, five times I became the best hitter of the Spanish major league and one time I conquered the Triple Crown. My club appointed me captain of the first team and I try to be useful for the rest of the team with this responsibility.”
Nestor Perez was born in Matanzas in Cuba (1976) and started at school playing baseball at the age of seven. He played in the same club as Eddy Oropesa, who made it as a relief pitcher to four years in the American Major Leagues and now lives with his family in Florida. Coming back from the Minors, Oropesa played one season as a starting pitcher in for another club in Rotterdam (Sparta/Feyenoord). Nestor Perez also tried a career abroad and in 1997 left for Spain, the country of his grandparents.
Nestor Perez: “I joined the Tenerife Marlins immediately, but soon I was scouted and I got a contract with Tampa Bay and became their shortstop. My highest class was Double A in the Minor Leagues and I stayed there till 2005. I returned to Tenerife Marlins in 2006. I am gonna be 34 this year and I will try to keep my life in baseball as long as I can conserve this top level in Spain. I have two jobs now in this organization: shortstop and manager.
We came to Rotterdam just to play game by game without the idea of qualifying for Barcelona due to stronger opponents like Neptunus, Rimini and San Marino. This was our spirit when we started our first game here last night, but inning by inning we saw that the game versus home team Neptunus remained close. Even by the end of the game we surprised ourselves for beating one of the favorite teams. Also in the afternoon game versus Rimini we had a chance to win, but we did not get the break-through we needed.
For me this is my fourth time to play in the Netherlands. I also played here in the European Championship 2003 and the World Cups in 2005 and 2009. My opinion is that baseball in Europe is best in the Netherlands, because it appears to be popular in a wide range of sport fans, because tournaments are organized well and facilities are adequate. We try to adept in our club several routines and approaches we meet here.”
Mister Baseball thanks Mrs. Wanda Rijkhof for interpreting where necessary in this interview.
Pim van Nes
Baseball writer for
Photos by Tenerife Marlins Puerto Cruz