‘Xander Bogaerts puts the Red Sox on top“, We read on the site of Major League Baseball (MLB) under a video where the baseball player hits the ball in the stands of Fenway Park. The Boston Globe also praises Bogaerts home run to The New York Times can only conclude that Aruba has ended the Yankees season. The 29-year-old Dutch “Kingdom Team” international is the big leader of the Red Sox – who now face the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the American League play-offs – but that’s hardly new in the game. the Netherlands. “What Bogaerts is accomplishing is truly unprecedented,” says Ton Hofstede, who has been active as a recruiter for MLB clubs for years. “He’s the captain of a very large organization. Unique for someone who plays Orange.
The star of Bogaerts has long been in North America. Thirteen years ago, he joined the Red Sox as a talented teenager. He has exceeded all expectations since making his debut on August 20, 2013 against the San Francisco Giants. Bogaerts immediately won the World Series in his debut season with the Red Sox. He repeated this feat in 2018. And now the road to the title is open again. The right-handed baseball player is considered one of the best shortstops in the MLB, is after Max Verstappen the highest paid Dutch top athlete (104 million euros in six years) and is the most successful athlete his home island of Aruba has produced. “When he plays, all of Aruba is watching,” says Hofstede. “There he really sets an example for young baseball players.”
Bogaerts is the figurehead of a very successful generation of professionals, whose roots lie in the Leeward Islands. He As a young player from the southern coastal town of Sint Nicolaas, he admired Aruban pros such as Sidney Ponson and Calvin Maduro, but he has now far surpassed his examples. At the same time, the same process took place in Curacao, where talented baseball players such as Andrelton Simmons, Kenley Jansen, Didi Gregorius, Jurickson Profar and Ozzie Albies followed in the footsteps of Hensley Meulens and Andruw Jones. “If you look at the population and how many players have reached the Majors, Aruba and Curacao are the best baseball countries in the world,” said Hofstede, who will soon be leaving for Curacao. „In addition to Bogaerts do Jansen [Los Angeles Dodgers] and Albies [Atlanta Braves] now also in the championship. Success is due to a mixture of factors. The fact that they often have athletic bodies and “soft hands” is a big advantage in baseball.
Baseball is the number one sport on the Dutch islands off the coast of Venezuela. Anyone who dreams of becoming a professional like Bogaerts has to rely on the United States. Those who lose weight in the Rat race For a place in the MLB, they often end up in the Dutch Premier League. Like Alex’s twin brother Jair Bogaerts, who retired early last season with Hoofddorp Pioneers in the Holland Series battle. There is a world of difference between baseball in Boston and Hoofddorp. It is not uncommon for the baseball brothers to both play for the Dutch team. Everyone at their own level.
For example, Xander Bogaerts was all the rage early in his career when he won the World Cup in Panama in October 2011 at age 19 with the Dutch team. At the time, a World Cup without Major League professionals. Two years later, Bogaerts made his debut as a third baseman at the World Baseball Classic – the precursor to the World Cup which will again be scheduled in 2023 and in which the best baseball players in the world can participate. Hofstede: “Bogaerts has been in the last four twice with the best Dutch professionals. But this took place largely out of sight of the Dutch public.
It’s no different when Bogaerts with the Red Sox in the wildcard game in front of a million dollar American crowd puts New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole in the first inning with a homerun. Fenway Park almost explodes as Bogaerts quickly puts the eternal rival behind him in the ‘all or nothing contest’. In the sixth inning he scored his second point, making his share of the 6-2 win huge. “We have to take advantage of it,” he told the media afterwards. “I had never played a game like this before. It had to happen here.
In Dutch baseball, Bogaerts is cherished as a global player in a global sport, but he is relatively unknown to the general public. “The 30,000 baseball fans in the Netherlands know, of course, how special Bogaerts’ exploits are,” Hofstede explains over the phone. “But when Bogaerts walks through the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, few will recognize him. He is never pictured in the Sportsman of the Year election. There is a task for the baseball association [KNBSB] do something with the success of Bogaerts and other top players from Aruba and Curacao.
KNBSB Technical Director and former International Baseball Tjerk Smeets has experienced Bogaerts in various tournaments. “I saw him for the first time in a shortie at the 2011 World Cup,” said the former receiver. “I saw then that Bogaerts was a huge talent, but that he would break through so quickly and get here is really impressive. Both offensively and defensively, he belongs to the absolute top. It’s a shame that there is so little attention for this in the Netherlands.
Smeets understands that Bogaerts and his MLB contemporaries can be fantastic examples for Dutch youth in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hoofddorp or Bussum, but they will always remain in the shadow of footballers like Frenkie de Jong or Memphis Depay. “No matter how well Bogaerts performs, we are a football country,” Smeets says. “It is sometimes quite frustrating. There is not much that can be changed. A performance by Bogaerts and other professionals for a Dutch audience is practically impossible. MLB does not allow this, and furthermore, insurance premiums would be prohibitive. It’s reality.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of October 7, 2021
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