Hon Urban (1927-2021): Baseball pioneer

Hon Urban reached the first floor.ANP. Photo

Hon Urban was born in Rotterdam in 1927, but moved to Amsterdam at the age of seven. When Urbanus was eleven, he went with his older brother to a training session for the baseball club OVVO in Amsterdam-East. He wore a baseball glove and threw some balls. A love affair was born over baseball.

De Arbanus became an excellent pitcher. He made his debut at the highest level at the age of nineteen and became a five-time national champion between 1949 and 1953. OVVO was the first club to win the Dutch Baseball League.

New York

Urbanus’ accomplishments went unnoticed. In 1952, he became the first European baseball player to be invited to a professional training camp for the New York Giants in the United States. “I wonder if I can compete at that level,” Arbanus said at the time. Albarol.

This fear turned out to be unfounded. After throwing the first ball the wind came immediately in front of Arbanos. According to American coaches, his technique is not very good.

Hon Urban in gorgeous costume.Personal photo

Urbanism is not driven by money. The work began with comments on his decision. At first, he completely lost control of his throw, but after several weeks of practice, Arbanos returned the balls to where he wanted to be.

It was felt that other snipers in the Netherlands should do the same. So during training camp Arpanus kept his eyes open. He wrote down in his diary everything he saw and heard. In addition, when he returned to the Netherlands, he took an educational film and a car full of photos with him.

Car with driver

When he returned to the Netherlands, Urbanus was invited by baseball clubs from across the country to share his knowledge. He was happy to do so because he was treated like a star and even got a car with a driver.

A year later, he was allowed to return to a training camp in the United States and had the opportunity to become a professional. But Arbustus decided to return to Amsterdam. He was just married.

Urban with OVVO team.  Personal photo
Urban with OVVO team.Personal photo

His second American visit gave a beautiful one. Dressed in a gigantic costume, he traveled by train via New York with then-famous movie star Jane Wire to raise money for flood victims in New Zealand. He raised and raised 10,000. There was only one minus during the train journey. Wilhelmus played at every station. “It finally bothered me,” Arbanus says.


Urbanus’ stay in the Netherlands was good news for the Dutch team. The Orange team debuted at the European Championships in 1956 and immediately became European champions. The next six European titles are for Orange. Arbanus played for OVVO for 24 years and was part of the Dutch national team for 12 years. He was named the league’s best hitter five times, the most expensive thunder three times and the once best hitter. In 1984, Urbanus was inducted into the Durban Baseball League Hall of Fame.

Hon Urban with his son Charles (left) and grandson Nick.  Personal photo
Hon Urban with his son Charles (left) and grandson Nick.Personal photo

Baseball genes are present in the Urbanus family. His son Charles and grandson Nick also became European baseball champions. Hon Urbanus is glad that three generations of his family have achieved this, especially since no other sports family in the Netherlands has been able to practice any sport.

“I am proud that the family has been able to continue the work they have already started,” he said in an interview with NOS a few years ago. “I came to America for a reason.”

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