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History of baseball in the Netherlands

February 28, 2023

In 1911, English teacher J.C.G Grasé returned to the Netherlands from a trip to the United States and introduced baseball to the northwestern European country.

The inaugural official honkbal games were played later that year. On March 12, 1913, Grasé founded the Dutch Baseball Union and established Quick Amsterdam (now known as Amsterdamsche Honkbal Club Quick) as the oldest baseball club in Europe.

While baseball isn’t the country’s No. 1 sport, the Netherlands has turned into one of the strongest European forces on the diamond. Its Kingdom also extends to relatively recent baseball hotbeds like Curaçao and Aruba.

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Here’s a glimpse into how much the sport has grown over the years.

WBSC rank

No. 7

Last WBC appearance


Best WBC finish

2013 and 2017, fourth place

Country’s top current Major Leaguers

Xander Bogaerts


Before he makes his regular-season debut with the San Diego Padres, the 30-year-old shortstop will represent the Netherlands for the second time in the WBC. Bogaerts was first on the Red Sox’s radar in 2009 during a workout in Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island. He - - along with his brother Jair - - signed with Boston.

Since then, Bogaerts has enjoyed a career that consists of being a four-time All-Star selection, two-time World Series champion and a five-time Silver Slugger, by far the best career by a player of Aruban descent (Granted, there are only six in history to make the Majors). He takes the Classic honor seriously, as he told back in 2017: "I'm going to play baseball. I'm not going on vacation," Bogaerts said. "I'll be in baseball mode and I'll be playing in some competitive games, playing for some real important things for the country and playing with teammates you grew up playing with or against, so it should be fun."

Kenley Jansen

Another product from one of the Dutch Caribbean Islands (Curaçao), Jansen is known most of all as a dominant closer for the Dodgers. He is their all-time franchise leader in saves (350) and notched three All-Star selections and won a World Series in 2020 with Los Angeles. Jansen, who signed with the Red Sox this offseason, will make his third appearance in the WBC.

A fun side note: Before he was a pitcher, Jansen was a catching prospect and actually played that position for the Netherlands in 2009 -- the same year the team stunned the Dominican Republic in pool play. Jansen made a critical play in the ninth inning when he threw out Willy Taveras in an attempted steal in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Famous Players

Bert Blyleven

Blyleven is the only Dutch-born Hall of Famer. He was born in Zeist but primarily raised in Garden Grove, Calif. During his career, he was a two-time All-Star, won two World Series and pitched a no-hitter on Sept. 22, 1977.

For the fourth time, he will serve as the pitching coach for the Netherlands in the WBC.

Andruw Jones


Jones represented the Netherlands in the inaugural WBC in 2006 and once more in 2013. He'll make another appearance this year, but this time as the bench coach.

A native of Curaçao, Jones has paved the way for players from the 171-square-mile island -- a place where baseball has become king. 2023 Classic players Jansen, Jurickson Profar, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius and Jonathan Schoop all call the country home.

Jones made five All-Star games, won 10 Gold Gloves, homered in consecutive innings in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series at 19 years old and is considered one of the greatest defensive center fielders to ever step onto a ballfield.

Biggest Moments in History

In the 2009 WBC, the Netherlands had a squad that consisted of zero Major League-level players. Yet, the small country was able to knock off the Dominican Republic -- a team that fielded stars like David Ortiz, Robinson Canó and Hanley Ramirez -- not once, but twice.

The first triumph over the Dominican Republic came on March 7, when the Netherlands scored three runs in the first inning and were able to hold on for a 3-2 win.

Unlike the first game, the second encounter between these two teams was decided in the late innings. Trailing 1-0 heading into the bottom of the 11th inning, the Netherlands answered with a two-run frame to eliminate the Dominican Republic in walk-off fashion.

The Netherlands was eliminated in the next round, but it put the country on the baseball map, adding momentum toward its next WBC appearance, when it placed fourth.

Local League setup and teams

The Honkbal Hoofdklasse was established in 1922 and is the highest level of baseball in the Netherlands. The eight-team league consists of a 42-game season, which is primarily played on the weekends from April to September. The top four teams make it to the playoffs, with the first round being a best-of-five series. The championship round, known as the Holland Series, is best-of-seven. The two participants in the Holland Series qualify for the European Cup.

National team history

The Netherlands is ranked No. 7 in the WBSC rankings, making it the highest-ranked European team. Along with its WBC accolades, the Dutch have placed first in the European Baseball Championship 24 times. The Netherlands also competed in the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Famous/Notable ballparks

Pim Mulier Sportpark has a seating capacity of 2,500, the largest in the Honkbal Hoofdklasse Netherlands baseball league. It houses two teams, DSS Haarlem and Kinheim, and it's part of a larger sports complex with three soccer fields, two softball fields, two baseball fields and a track.