by Pim van Nes
In his home stadium in Rotterdam last Thursday, Shaldimar Daantji at the age of 26 debuted for the Netherlands national team in the exhibition game versus Cuba. He entered the game at bat in the fifth inning as substitute for record high Major Leaguer Eugene Kingsale. Daantji was the first of six offensive players in the lineup, who helped to change the score from 1-2 trailing to 3-2 winning. A surprise result booked by a Dutch selection of solely present Hoofdklasse players, whilst many other colleague players from the Netherlands are active in American Major and Minor Leagues.
Now as new element in the national team participating in 25th Haarlemse Honkbal Week, Daantji lives as a pro ball player in the States: waking up in a hotel room, breakfast, lunch and game with his teammates and their coaches and then back to his hotel room for another night during this 10-day Week. But usually Daantji, after every Hoofdklasse game, alike his club teammates goes back home. If possible his mother and the rest of the family join Shaldimar to home and road games, because even the longest road game in the Netherlands normally takes less than an hour traveling by car. And after every night game, back to work early next morning, five days a week. After the daily job hours up to 17.30 or 18.30h, players like Daantji have to rush to home stadium or to the team bus for a road game.
Rotterdam and its satellite city Capelle aan den IJssel are Daantji’s family and baseball world. He was born in Rotterdam (4 May 1984) and grew up with his family residing in Capelle. He started to play baseball at the age of 6 and his first club was Euro Stars in Capelle, inspired by famous cousins. Johnny and Shulaika Balentina, children of his mother’s sister, played baseball and softball and Shaldimar followed their example in hit and run. His secondary school Thorbecke Lyceum in Rotterdam was also famous as facilitating both school and sports schedules for athletic talents among its students. But that did not work out correctly for Shaldimar due to an administrative error by his former elementary school. Baseball however remained his sport without this special school, but with the skill of Henk Huijzer and Farouk Bonifacia, local club coaches readily remembered by present national team player Daantji.
At the age of 17 he played already for the first team of Euro Stars and he developed his talents further with Robert Eenhoorn’s Unicorns organization. His progress in this domain lead him to the 2001 selection for Jong Oranje, the youngsters national team of the Netherlands with regular central practice sessions. In this team he met Roger Bernadina, his colleague outfielder, who last night doubled and scored unassisted 1-1 in the first inning of his Washington Nationals versus San Francisco Giants. Bernadina, who this season is a regular outfielder for his Major League club, batting second these days, was signed by the former Montreal Expos by late scout Chicho Jessurun, when Curacao born Bernadina played for Sparta/Feyenoord in Hoofdklasse. It was Shaldimar Daantji who was asked to help his friend Roger in his final tryout in the ballpark of Compri Zwijndrecht, 15 km south of Rotterdam. After that tryout Bernadina signed the pro contract, which brought him to last night’s ML victory with rookie star pitcher Stephen Strasburg: 8-1.
Shaldimar in 2001 played European Championship hosted by Barcelona, Spain and the Netherlands Kingdom Games in Rotterdam with his Jong Oranje Team. In 2002 he joined that team again for World Cup tournament participation in Canada. Regular season games he played with Tridents, the talents team of DOOR Neptunus in Rotterdam. The club opened its dugout for Daantji in 2003 and 2004 and from time to time he made his appearances as pinch runner and hitter in the best club team of the Netherlands. In order to play more often as a starting lineup player, Daantji accepted the invitation by Amsterdam Pirates, where he managed to get this position in the 2005 Hoofdklasse season in a team with coach and player Rikkert Faneyte, former Major League player with San Francisco Giants. In 2006 he joined Almere, where he was teammate with former pro players Eugene Kingsale and Ivanon Coffie.
Daantji came back to Rotterdam in 2007, when he met Cuba born starting pitcher Eddy Oropesa, former relief pitcher in four Major League seasons, but now coming from Miami to help out Sparta/Feyenoord during many more innings. Daantji stayed with that club for the 2008 Hoofdklasse season to handle the flies provoked by Dutch star pitcher Rob Cordemans. Once back with DOOR Neptunus in 2009, Daantji got his regular starting position among former pro players like Eugene Kingsale, Dushan Ruzic and Diegomar Markwell. In 2010 he is reunited with Belgian coach Steve Janssen, now as manager of the club, but before with Tridents 10 years ago and with Sparta/Feyenoord two years ago. Now Janssen is pitching coach with the national team, in which Daantji made his debut this week. Shaldimar, speaking in Van der Valk hotel in Haarlem: “I am looking forward to play with this national team in present Honkbal Week. Will do my utmost to help my teammates and to win as much as possible. Hopefully I may join the selection to be delegated to European Cup tournament in Germany, but nothing is sure about that yet!”
by Pim van Nes
Baseball writer for