by Pim van Nes
“It started with Los Angeles Dodgers wanting to sponsor us two years ago and later San Francisco Giants and more clubs showed their interest. Then MLB decided to take over the sponsoring for World Port Tournament”, their energetic president Bart Volkerijk explained to Mister-Baseball.com during Monday’s press conference in Rotterdam. The coordination in this new association for WPT was in hands of Jason Holowaty, MLB representative for Europe and stationed in London.
On Saturday July 18, the 15th edition of 31 years old World Port Tournament will open the Familie stadium doors in Rotterdam. It started in 1985 on request of Mayor Bram Peper and presided by Gerard Vaandrager. In 2005 WPT sacrificed edition 11 on behalf of the Baseball World Cup in the same Rotterdam stadium. The official opening of the 2015 version will take place on Sunday 19 with the ceremonial first pitch by present Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.
The tournament has a new formula with 5 days round robin, allowing a day off to each of the 5 teams. Second phase has a double elimination character. In his speech to the press, Volkerijk reminded his guests of his first appearance in World Port Tournament: as a pitcher for the Dutch national team in 1985. Now he is back as the tournament’s president, bringing a new WPT press officer: Michel Streur, also from The Hague.
Logically from The Hague, the Ambassador of Japan will be welcomed in the stadium on Wednesday July 22 before the game between Japan and the Netherlands. His country and especially Tokyo look forward to host baseball’s Premier Twelve in autumn 2015 and Olympic Games 2020 with an open door for baseball and softball. Volkerijk is proud to present four top ranked WBSC baseball countries represented by strong selections: Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands, next to a selection from Curacao with the highest average MLB players pro capita of the world.
Photo: © Rob Jelsma