With the low temperatures of now, it feels like an eternity ago. Last summer, after four years, the Haarlem Baseball Week was finally held again. I was at the multi-day tournament for the first time and it turned out to be a memorable evening in many ways….
In the summer it is usually a lot quieter at the NH Sportredactie. Colleagues are taking a well-deserved holiday and clubs are on training camp. Often the most exciting news on such days is an (un)expected transfer at Ajax, AZ, FC Volendam or Telstar.
That’s why, as a young reporter, I had the opportunity to spend a day watching the Baseball Week. The idea was to make a report of the opening match between the Netherlands and Italy and possibly interview another player afterwards. On time and in good spirits I took the train to Bloemendaal station and covered the last part to the Pim Mulier Stadium on foot.
Arriving at the baseball stadium, I was able to bypass the long line of visitors and pick up my press card at a separate counter. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large, familiar figure moving towards me. The man stood next to me: Mart Smeets, a welcome guest at the Baseball Week. His son Tjerk is the assistant coach of the Netherlands. I only found that out later though.
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After grabbing a bottle of water in the press room, I wanted to sit in the press gallery. To my great surprise, it was completely full of scouts and people from the organization. Fortunately, the pressman sent the scouts away and suddenly I had a line all to myself. That was the other extreme.
The match against Italy started and the Dutch got off to a false start. Ricardo Paolini made the first run. Fortunately, Sharlon Schoop and Denzel Richardson repaired the damage the same inning. Apart from a few minor revivals, little happened in the game. It remained 2-1 for the Netherlands.
Attic room journalist
There was plenty of time during the game to talk to my neighbor in the stands. He turned out to be an American scout, who wanted to see the American team and had to record all kinds of statistics. He had a very extensive database in which all statistics were collected.
It was one of the first times for me that I was in a sports stadium as a reporter. I tried to explain to him that I have one attic room journalist ben, a mocking term for journalists who only work in the editorial office. Further than attic room journalist I didn’t come, but luckily he was able to laugh about it. After the match he asked if I would also visit the other matches. Unfortunately that has not happened anymore.
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The view from the press gallery
Netherlands battling against Italy
Scharlon Schoop (15) is ready to hit
National coach Evert-Jan ‘t Hoen
It should be clear, I had a great time in the press gallery. I was also able to stand next to the field to take good photos and see how the crowd was whipped up with music, cheerleaders and an enthusiastic announcer.
Afterwards I spoke to Evert-Jan ‘t Hoen, the national coach of the Netherlands. “This event is important for baseball, for the Netherlands and certainly for Haarlem. The stands were again full of enthusiastic people, that’s what you do it for.” In that conversation he indicated that the Orange wanted to go for the overall victory. I had little faith in that myself. I expected the Americans to be much better.
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I enjoyed following the remaining matches in the Netherlands via the live stream, when it came out in terms of planning. The Dutch baseball team was fourth after the group stage and reached the semi-final against Japan. In it, the last winner of the event was defeated.
My colleague Frank van der Meijden was allowed to go to the final and secretly I was a bit jealous. Because a day later, the Dutch team easily beat Curaçao in that final. A nice ending of the Baseball Week in my eyes. This experience certainly left a taste for more and that’s why this one hopes attic room journalist to be allowed to go ‘outside’ more often in 2023. The best thing there is, is experiencing sports in a stadium. And to top it all off, I hope to catch many more matches of this great event at the next edition in 2024.
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