by Pim van Nes
Back to Bart. A week ago this series of newspaper articles started with an interview by Bart Boerop with Netherlands team manager Brian Farley. Now Boerop is back in an Algemeen Dagblad interview with short stop Michael Duursma (34), this week acting third base man in Orange. Second son of a Dutch father and an American mother, Michael learned baseball in the Netherlands, proceeded in USA college both in study and baseball and came back to the Netherlands for baseball with Pioniers in Hoofddorp and with his national team.
“Wherever the coach needs me, I’ll play happily!”
Twelve years ago Michael Duursma debuted in the Netherlands national team. Now at 34 years of age (which is considered old in the Netherlands, PvN), Duursma cannot think yet of having to retire ever. Even after his heaviest disappointment – he was dropped from the selection just before IBAF World Cup 2011 – he did not give up his baseball spirit. During present European Championship tournament he simply is back in the national starting line-up.
“And on third base: Michael Duursma!”, the announcer proclamed in Rotterdam stadium, as if it were regular business, Duursma at third base. Reality however is that this player never before was posted at field position five. Short stop position and also second base were familiar for him, but third base region so far was unexplored territory for Duursma. “I will play wherever the coach wants me to play”, Duursma no-complained about his new role, “I am happy to be back in the line-up!”
The player of Pioniers in Hoofddorp is accepting any job he gets confided (by Farley, PvN), which is logic for a player wanting to play. Less than a year ago, Duursma at last minute missed the definite national selection to start with World Championship tournament in Panama, when Farley after warming-up games had to reduce his group from 26 to 24 players. “That was a very big disappointment”, Duursma said. “I had belonged to the selection for such a long time and I felt that something special was going to happen (in the tournament, PvN). This sounds as second guessing perhaps, but I did understand this team was an extremely strong team!
No spot however in this team for Duursma, who nevertheless had joined the national team during nine years with World Cups and 2008 Olympic Games. After Farley’s decision last year, Duursma immediately took the plane back to the Netherlands. “The first few World Cup games I intentionally avoided to follow in the news media. It hurt too much. The game results only reached me the day after, but when they kept on winning, I started to watch their games. Though being miserable of missing them, I wanted the boys to take it all over there. I have been playing with them for such a long time!”
Being absent from such a climax, especially at Duursma age at the time (33), could have been a reason for him to retire from baseball. But this option was never taken in consideration by Duursma. “One can be pathetic and stay at home or choose to struggle back. I am a fighter and a winner. This still is what I like best: every day on a baseball field and playing this kind of tournaments.” Because Yurendel de Caster was committed in play-off finales in the States and consequently unable to come to the Netherlands, Duursma was picked for every game’s line-up so far.
“Two years ago I was there too, when we lost the European finale versus Italy. Ever since I have been focused on making it to this next tournament and clinch European title back”.
Pim van Nes: In the night game after this interview, Michael Duursma singled once, scored twice and drove in three in a six innings game versus Sweden (17-1).