Baseball in Haarlem? Of course they play baseball in a diverse Neighbourhood in New York City. No, not Harlem, Haarlem. Haarlem a city of 161,000 in the Netherlands. Baseball has been growing in Holland. In fact the Dutch have been a nemesis of the Cuban National team in the 2010s. It surprise many to find out that Haarlem Baseball Week once known as Honkbalweek was first held in 1961. It has been contested every second year since 1972.
Unfortunately, Canada’s Top Expert on Cuban baseball won’t be travelling with the squad to Haarlem. I have called in a special pinch hitter though. Perhaps Britain’s top expert on Cuban baseball, Gawain Owen. Gawain travelled with the Cuban National Team during their Halcyon days of the early 2000’s. He is referenced in the seminal writings about this era via Peter C. Bjarkman.
On the Island Serie Nacional 61 is wrapping up with Granma playing Matanzas. But for those like myself who enjoy watching Cuba in international baseball you would have had July 8th to 15th circled in your diaries for many months.
With Cuba playing in Holland and Phil unable to travel I will be taking up a position as guest blogger for this tournament and taking you inside the Dugout. In this being my first blog for Phil I will give a little intro on myself, why Holland and what I hope to be covering from now until the end of the tournament.Gawain Owen
I have been following Cuban baseball since 2004. That is when I first watched the team play in Nettuno, Italy in a pre Olympic tournament. As someone who had watched a lot of baseball in America, I fell in love with the truly authentic way in which the players were playing for the love of the game. Over many years I have built significant trust with those within the federation and players whilst maintaining my view point. I have no interest in politics or reasons why players have left the island. If you want to know more then listen to the interview Phil did with me
The Dutch are the powerhorse of European baseball. They have been a thorn in the side of Team Cuba since defeating them in the 2011 Baseball World Cup Final and then again in 2013 World Baseball Classic. In 2013 in my opinion it was the last of the great Cuba teams with many going onto play in MLB. Although they failed to reach the semi finals after Victor Mesa left Nortberto Gonzlaez in the game for one inning too many and Team Netherlands advanced to the semi finals instead of Cuba.
Holland have been hosting yearly tournaments with Haarlem and Rotterdam alternating for many years. and I have been attending since 2007 and the Cuban team have always faired well when they have attended. In a later article I will cover those teams playing but for anyone who loves to travel and watch baseball then I highly recommend attending in future if you can.
Before the tournament begins I will give my opinion on the team Cuba are sending and make my predictions on where they will finish this time. Once the tournament begins I will be inside the Dugout giving my honest opinion daily on how the team is doing and sharing any news as it happens. I look forward to sharing my week with you.