by Pim van Nes
Walking and talking with fans, sponsors, vips, players, coaches, journalists, scouts and federation officials from as soon as he arrives in Pim Mulier stadium in the morning till by midnight, when he leaves back for the Haarlem Week hotel in the same city – Robert Eenhoorn hardly can spare a minute for a spontaneous interview. However, focusing questions on Eenhoorn’s present position as technical director for Dutch baseball, Mister-Baseball.com managed to sit down with the former player of Neptunus Rotterdam, Haarlem Nicols, New York Yankees, Anaheim Angels and New York Mets. As a coach he worked again for Neptunus and for the Netherlands national team. In 2007 he was awarded as the Netherlands best coach of the year in a national all-sports contest and in 2011 being their director, his national baseball team was elected as the Netherlands best team in again an all-sports contest hosted by the Netherlands Olympic Committee.
Mister Baseball: This Haarlem Week the Netherlands national team has taken the field for the first time since their “Beamon-esque” World Cup performance last year in Panama. The Dutch have changed their image from an outsider in world wide tournaments into World Championship title holder. Do you reckon with a different approach by opponents in Haarlemse Honkbal Week and European Championship tournament in September?
Robert Eenhoorn: “Of course winning a World Cup, changes the image of an organisation. We have received a lot of publicity and recognition, which has helped Dutch Baseball directly and will also help European Baseball indirectly. It is one of the best examples that the game is changing worldwide. But the title doesn’t change our way of working. We have a group of hard working guys, who are always looking to get better. We focus on the process and believe the results will follow then.”
Mister Baseball: Your baseball career lasted from 6 years till 42 years of age on grass and gravel. Since then you have been a technical director for baseball in the Netherlands. How much time do you spend behind a desk at home or in KNBSB federation office? Are you fond of your new position or do you long secretly for a field job as a coach or field manager with a club or a national team abroad?
Robert Eenhoorn: “Everybody working in sports knows it is hard to put your week into hours. I do what needs to be done, which exceeds a 40 hour workweek. But when you enjoy what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like working. The field might be something to go back to in the future, but right now there is a lot of work that needs to be done off the field. Nationally we have things pretty much under control, but internationally the game of baseball is changing and has a lot of question marks at the moment which need to be answered. It is a crucial time for the game. I believe these next 4 years are going to be critical for the game. Either baseball will be sprinting downhill or running uphill. Connecting organisations will be the key to success.”
Mister Baseball: Do other European countries have a similar technical director in their federation organisation? Who are your counter parts in competitive countries like Spain, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, England? Do you communicate frequently with them? Only in official gatherings or also informally and bilaterally? Do you make progress with them in agreements about international cooperation in European baseball?
Robert Eenhoorn: “I don’t believe a lot of countries have a technical director, but everybody has somebody in charge of the Technical part of the game. I do speak with baseball on-the-field people about the game, but most of my recent international talks have been with Board members of Federations. That is a lot harder and more complex, because the agenda is not always the game of Baseball. If I look at Europe at the moment, I have to say we are making only little progress. For as long as I can remember, Italy has mostly been in charge in Europe off the field and has brought Europe where we are today. We could have been further in my opinion. Italian baseball President is also President of IBAF. In my opinion an unhealthy situation and impossible to do. Wearing different hats, usually slows down processes. The other problem is that most people are too busy with themselves right now, because of the new elections, which will take place next year. This is the other decelerator at the moment. I do have faith in on-the-field people in most of the European countries. They have done an excellent job by improving the level of the game in their respective countries. They need to get a more prominent role in European Baseball, if we want to move ahead. They make the difference. The Dutch would like to help in this process, but only if it is about the game. If politics take over, we will just concentrate on ourselves. This is exactly what we have told the current acting President of CEB. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Mister Baseball: Thank you for your time during this busy week in Haarlem.