Han Urbanus was the first Dutch baseball player to delve into the cuisine of American professional baseball. He used the knowledge acquired in 1952 during an internship of over a month with the New York Giants to develop the sport in the Netherlands.
The internship made Urbanus, then 24, realize that there was still a lot of work to be done in the Netherlands to improve the sport of baseball. Armed with an instructional film and necessary notes, he returned to the Netherlands to further share his acquired knowledge. He became a pioneer in pitching and teaching throwing techniques. He was clearly told that the pitch was very different in the United States. And this while he thought he had more or less control of the throw.
On a subsequent trip, Urbanus was offered a contract to become a professional, but the Amsterdammer preferred his work as an accountant and his wife to an uncertain adventure in the lower professional regions.
Urbanus has had a more than impressive career at the OVVO in Amsterdam. As a very talented pitcher, he led the Amsterdam club to five consecutive national titles. At the highest level of baseball in the Netherlands, he has pitched no less than eleven without strokes in his career. He is five times the best pitcher in the Netherlands and three times the most valuable player. In total, he will play for OVVO for 24 years. He was also international for seventeen years. With the Orange team, he became seven times European champion in a row. He has come to 64 international matches.
On July 6, 1958, he was the starting pitcher for the Netherlands against Italy. It was the first baseball game to be broadcast on Dutch television. Urbanus pitched all twelve innings in the game which lasted four hours and was won 6-5 by the Dutch. In the final of this European Championship, Urbanus once again came out of the mound as the winning pitcher after another victory over Italy. This is just one of the sporting highlights of Urbanus who was also a coach after his long playing career. But he later admitted that he didn’t have enough patience for this.
Han Urbanus was inducted into the KNBSB Hall of Fame on May 3, 1984. In fact, along with his older brother Charles. Han passed his baseball genes down to his son Charles and grandson Nick, who both played in the Big League and the National Team for years.
A day after Han Urbanus’ death, the Dutch baseball world was shocked again. Loek Loevendie died on Saturday at the age of 88. “Ome Loek” was the icon of Amsterdam Pirates Baseball and Softball Club. In 1959, Loevendie was one of the founders of the baseball division of Rap football club. It had an eye for talent and detail. “Mister Pirates” immediately saw when someone had something extra and he often gave extra training to develop that talent. He was on the field every day to train a total of thousands of young baseball players in fifty years. In 2004, Loevendie was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Dutch association.
Both Han Urbanus and Loek Loevendie are remembered for the tremendous enthusiasm with which they spoke about their sport and their commitment to developing baseball at all levels.