by British Baseball Federation, www.britishbaseball.org
Five Major League Baseball stars will be coming to London on 16 and 17 November to run youth clinics for young baseball and softball players and host question-and-answer sessions as part of the third annual European Big League Tour, led by Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dutch pitcher Rick VandenHurk.
This is the third year in which the European Big League Tour has brought Major League stars to Europe to deliver clinics to young players, and the first time that London has been on the itinerary. This year’s Tour will also provide youth clinics in Rotterdam on 10-11 November.
The Tour is being hosted in London by BSUK, London Sports and Academy Baseball, and is supported by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Players who will join Rick VandenHurk in London will be Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and the exciting Washington Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina, along with two other players – including a marquee player – to be named later.
RECEPTION AND CLINICS
On Friday, 16 November, the players will talk to London and national media outlets, and then attend a reception hosted by BSUK, including a question-and-answer session for British baseball and softball leaders and coaches.
Then the MLB players will be at the heart of two youth clinics to be run on Saturday afternoon, 17 November for players aged 8-16 at the London Soccerdome, Europe’s largest indoor football facility, situated next to the O2 arena on the Greenwich Peninsula.
The first clinic, from 12.00-2.00 pm, will be run primarily for players from the youth baseball and softball league London Sports, while the second clinic, from 3.30-5.30 pm, will be run for players from BSUK’s baseball and softball Academies and BBF youth leagues.
The clinics will cover pitching, catching, hitting and defense, and will include an opportunity for those attending to put questions to the Major League players. Up to 125 young players are expected at each session.
The clinics will be free and registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis through the European Big League Tour website.
FULFILLING A DREAM
The idea of the European Big League Tour originated with Dutch pitcher Rick VandenHurk from Eindhoven, who had fulfilled his own dream of playing in the Major Leagues after being signed by the Florida Marlins in 2002. Rick wanted to bring that same dream to young players in Europe by giving them the chance to meet and practice with MLB stars.
It took a couple of years to bring this idea to fruition, but with support from MLB, the MLB Players Association and sponsors, the first European Big League Tour took place in 2010, with clinics held in Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Haarlem in the Netherlands and Antwerp in Belgium. All of them were hugely successful, with over 1200 enthusiastic young players attending. The Major League stars taking part included Florida Marlins catcher John Baker, Baltimore Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones, outfielders Roger Bernadina from the Washington Nationals and Greg Halman from the Seattle Mariners and former All-Star outfielder Brady Anderson.
In 2011, the second edition of the European Big League Tour came to the Netherlands with clinics in Utrecht and Amsterdam, followed by sessions in Prague in the Czech Republic and Parma in Italy. The players taking part, along with returnees Adam Jones, Greg Halman and Roger Bernadina, included sluggers Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers and Giancarlo Stanton from the Florida Marlins, along with Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler and a former six-time All-Star, Bobby Bonilla.