With Xander Bogaerts, Dutch baseball is cherished as a world-class player in a global sport

“XAnder Bogarts puts the Red Sox ahead‘, on the Major League Baseball (MLB) website. under the video A baseball player hits the ball in the stands of Fenway Park. Boston Globe He is also full of praise for Bogart’s home run employment New York times We can only conclude that the Arubi has finished the Yankees’ season. The 29-year-old international from the Netherlands is the great captain of the Red Sox – who now face the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the MLS playoffs – but that’s a rare occurrence in the Netherlands. “What the Bogaerts have achieved is truly unprecedented,” says Ton Hofstede, who has been active as a club scout in MLB for years. “He is the leader of a very large organization. Unique to whoever plays at Orange.”

The star of Bogart has long appeared in North America. Thirteen years ago, he joined the Red Sox as a talented teenager. he is He exceeded all expectations since his debut on August 20, 2013, against the San Francisco Giants. Bogarts immediately won the World Championship in his first season with the Red Sox. He repeated this feat in 2018. And now the path to the title is open again. The right-handed baseball player is one of the best short stops In MLB, after Max Verstappen is the highest-earning Dutch athlete (104 million euros in six years) and is the most successful athlete his home island of Aruba has produced. “When he plays, you see all of Aruba,” Hofstede says. “Here’s really an example for guys who play baseball.”

Bogarts is a figurehead for a highly successful generation of professionals, whose roots lie in the Leeward Islands. he is As a young player from the southern coastal town of Sint Nicolas, he looked up to Aruban pros like Sidney Bunson and Calvin Maduro, but is now far beyond his examples. At the same time, the same process took place in Curaçao, where such talented baseball players as Andrilton Simmons, Kenley Janssen, Didi Gregorios, Jurickson Provar and Ozzy Albis followed in the footsteps of Hensley Mullins and Andrew Jones. “If you look at the population and the number of players that got to Majors, Aruba and Curaçao are the best baseball countries in the world,” says Hofstede, who is soon leaving for Curaçao. „In addition to Bogaerts do Jansen [Los Angeles Dodgers] Wallbess [Atlanta Braves] Now also in the tournament, and success depends on a combination of factors. The fact that they have athletic bodies and ‘soft hands’ is a huge advantage in baseball.”

twin

Baseball is the premier sport on the Dutch islands off the coast of Venezuela. Anyone who dreams of becoming a professional like Bogart has to count on the United States. Those who lose weight in RTRS For a place in MLB, they often end up in the Eredivisie. Like Jair Bogaerts, twin brother of Xander, who pulled out early last season with the Hoofddorp Pioniers in the Holland Series fight. There is a vast difference between baseball in Boston and Hoofdorp. It is not uncommon for the two brothers who play baseball to play for the Dutch team. Each on its own level.

For example, Xander Bogaerts caused a stir early in his career by winning the World Cup in Panama in October 2011 when he was 19 years old with the Dutch national team. At the time, it was the World Cup without the league professionals. Two years later, Bogarts debuted as the third baseball player in the World Baseball Classic – a precursor to the World Cup to be scheduled again in 2023 in which the best baseball players in the world can participate. Hofstede: „Bogart has reached the semi-finals twice with the best Dutch professionals. But this happened largely out of sight of the Dutch public.”

Xander Bogarts after his all-or-nothing game against the New York Yankees.
CJ Gunther/EPA Photo

It’s no different when Bogarts and the Red Sox in a wildcard game in front of a crowd of millions of Americans put New York Yankees player Gerrit Cole in the first half with a archery. Fenway Park is nearly imploding as the Bogaerts quickly put the eternal “all-or-nothing” contender behind him. In the sixth inning, he scored his second run, making his 6-2 win share a huge. “We should enjoy this,” he told the media afterwards. “I’ve never played a match like this before. It should have happened here.”

In Dutch baseball, Bogarts is cherished as a world class player in a world sport, but is relatively unknown to the general public. “The 30,000 baseball fans in the Netherlands know, of course, how special Bogart’s accomplishments are,” explains Hofstede over the phone. “But when Bogarts walks through Calverstraat in Amsterdam, few will recognize him. He was never in the picture at the Athlete of the Year election. There is a mission for the Major League Baseball. [KNBSB] To do something successfully Bogarts and other top players from Aruba and Curaçao.”

Great examples

Tjerk Smeets, head coach of KNBSB and former international baseball player, has Bogaerts experience in various tournaments. “I first saw him as short at the 2011 World Cup,” explains the former fishing catcher. “I saw then that Bogarts was a tremendous talent, but he’s going to break through very quickly and get this far. Offensively and defensively, he belongs at the absolute top. It’s a pity that so little attention is paid to this in Holland.”

Smits understands that Bogarts and his MLB contemporaries can be great examples for Dutch youth in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hofdorp or Bossum, but they will always remain in the shadows of footballers like Frenkie de Jong or Memphis Depay. “No matter how great a Bogarts performance is, we are a football country,” Smits says. “It’s sometimes very frustrating. We can’t change much about it. It is virtually impossible for Bogaerts and other professionals to perform for the Dutch public. MLB will not allow it and, moreover, the premiums will be exorbitant. That is the reality.”

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