Lowell Spinners

I have quite a few baseball caps and there are some nice stories to some of them…

Lowell_SpinnersThe cap I want to tell you about is the Lowell Spinners cap. Lowell Spinners is a Short-Season A New York-Penn League Minor League baseball team affiliated to the Boston Red Sox.
As an European, I do not have a deep rooted feeling for Minor League teams, but since I have been a Red Sox fan for quite some time, I also became a fan of the Lowell Spinners as of some years ago…

 

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Swen signs his deal!

April 2008 a young man named Swen Huijer, from my club at that time (Hoofddorp Pioniers), was being watched by scouts from some pretty big Major League teams from across the Atlantic ocean. The New York Mets and New York Yankees were already interested in this 6.9 feet gentle giant. He got offered a deal by the Yankees to come play in the Dominican Republic.

He was smart enough to wait for the next big thing: while playing an invitational tournament in Italy (organized by MLB), scouts from Boston saw what he could do and in the next few day offered him a contract with the Red Sox organisation.

When you sign a contract, you are (generally) placed in a team that is in the lower Minor Leagues, so was Swen. He started his American Dream in the GCL (Gulf Coast League) Red Sox in Fort Meyers, Florida. He played there for 3 seasons in the so-called Rookie level.

Swen Huijer Lowell SpinnersWe were going to spent a long summer vacation in Florida in 2011, traveling the state, see all the Disney & Universal parks & of course a couple of baseball games; so I also scheduled a stop in Fort Meyers to go see Swen in his hometown… But Swen was doing so good, he was promoted to the next level:  Short Season A. He was to pack his bags and move to Lowell, home of the Spinners, just a short hour from Fenway Park but 1400+ miles from Fort Meyers. Thus we never got to see Swen play in Fort Meyers. As a peace offering he brought me THE Lowell Spinners cap. It turned out to be Swen’s final season in the Leagues…

Swen came back to the Netherlands at the end of the 2011 season; he retired from professional baseball. He played for the Dutch Major League (Hoofdklasse) team of Hoofddorp and started his “Baseball Against Cancer“-foundation. During off-seasons he taught kids the basics of pitching with the help of his brother, Lars.

swen&edWe run in to each other every now and then, we live in the same town, we both coach Little League (Swen coaches the Littles, I coach the Seniors, both for the same team – Kennemerland), he organizes the BAC, I was one of the coaches of the BAC-team. I have a soft spot for this tall guy with his big heart, I still wear my Lowell Spinners cap often… WITH GREAT PRIDE!

Weekend away? Weekend off!

Every once in a while, my wife gets to go off on a weekend to hang with her friends or to attend a meeting of Young Living, somewhere in Europe. This time she was initially invited to join my mother-in-law, who won a trip to Vienna (Austria), but ended up getting invited by Young Living as a speaker about Toxic-free/Chemical-free living.

We started clean living years ago, by paying attention to what we eat; reading the labels to find out what kind of mess is used to flavor or color your food! So we decided to stop using packets or sachets, started with fresh veggies and flavoring our food with natural herbs. After that we replaced the drinks for the kids with natural sweetened drinks and so on.

The same goes for the way we got introduced to Young Living: we were in a place in our live where stress (and all that goes with it) made up a large part of it. I was unemployed for a long time due to reorganization , while Danielle was working in a very stressful job, with the possibility to get unemployed as well… A friend of ours advised to buy a starter-kit from Young Living with a lot of oils to relief several situations. Danielle got through the stressful days, we both got to sleep good again and the way we smell nice… Oh boy! Then there was no stopping; we also have supplements now, energy drinks, toothpaste and household products. I probably forgot a few, sorry…

But when she is away, I get to take care of our household… Or: my version of it! The boys always want to eat different stuff than usually, so we get to eat French Fries, Kebab, Chinese and such.

And since I cancelled my appointment for today ánd it turned out that none of the guys had any obligations to sports this entire weekend, I had a massive amount of (free) time to spend my way.

KaysI have been planning to visit a secondhand record store for a long time, but other commitments always got in the way… I visited them today! Kay’s Odyssey in Wagenberg (near Breda) is a very nice shop, nice people, good vibe, loaded with vinyl! I bought some great records and was talking to one of the owners and he directed me to the newest wing to the store where he had even more records… So I dug crates for another hour, enjoyed a good cup of coffee and of course more additions to my collection.

I came home with the following vinyl: Trouble Funk – Still Smokin’ (original DC Go-Go), Tony Terry – She’s Fly, B&Q Band – Main Attraction (Ben Liebrand remix), Ben Liebrand – Styles (The Album), PITA – Break Beats (just breaks & beats & samples), Chandra Simmons – Never Gonna’ Let You Go (Mantronik Remix), The Time – Jerk Out (Prince… of course!), Janet Jackson – Escapade (One of her best singles), Roxanne – The Real Roxanne (UTFO/Full Force), Prince – 1999 (What can I say?), Warren G – I Shot The Sheriff (Promo with remixes), Stetsasonic – Sally (One of the best live-bands in Hip hop I’ve ever seen!!!), Jill Jones – G-Spot (Probably the best song Prince gave her), 3rd Base – Pop Goes The Weasel (Children’s song rap-style), Derek B – Bad Young Brother (English Rap – US style), Derek B – We’ve Got The Juice (Old-school), Jesse Johnson – She I Can’t Resist (Former guitar player of The Time/Prince), Mantronix – Ladies (Oh Yeah!!!) & Atlantic Ocean – Waterfall (Peter Parker’s Remixes White Label)…

On the way out I found out that a couple of guys I know (Formerly Known as DSS Rookies) were playing ball against the local team in Oosterhout (Twins), which happens to be like 10 minutes away… So I dropped by to see them and cheer them on. Good weather, great company, Successful Day!!!

All I got to do now, is figuring out what to have for dinner… GUYS!

Baseball Against Cancer By Night – Part 2

Still on a natural high of all the good vibes I picked up during the entire event… On the other hand I am on an emotional roller-coaster; tearing up and hearing my voice break every time I see or hear something that gets to me.

To get back to the BAC By Night: we ended up playing 8 games, instead of 9, because we had to take an hour out of the schedule due to a rain-delay. We had to let the All Star Game (final game of the night – with a lot of the instructors) slip, because we wanted to let all our scheduled opponents play.

UmpsA BIG shout-out to the umpires: Edwin Louisa (Left) & Michael Toet (Right) for umping. We all had a change to interact with these umpires on a different level, as nice guys, almost human… hahaha! Thanks guys for being with us and for making this a success!!!

And a massive applause for Roy van de Wateringen (Centre) for umping all night, all 8 games!!! You’re the best, Roy!

Also a huge “thank you” to Lars & Maarten Broersen for the maintenance of the field during the night.

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Swen Huijer taking the mound

A major shout-out to all the parents and other supporters that were there throughout the night, with food, drinks, applause and a word of comfort every now and then…

During the different games we had a couple of guest players; some dropped in and played along! So a big shout-out to Danny van Ewijk, Glenn Bakker, Dè Flanigan, Theo Geerman, Thom van de Snoek & Damian Melis!!!

But the biggest shout-out goes to the man behind Baseball Against Cancer: Swen Huijer. Swen pitched during our third game, against the Pioniers III. But he was also there a greater part of the night for mental support to the team!
Lange, you know you are the best!

And finally thanks to the entire team for your absolute dedication and commitment!!!
Top: Daaf – Arnoud – Merle – Famke – Teun – Jaycy – Ward – Jules – Joppe – Giancarlo – Ed
Bottom: Barend – Timothy – Thomas – Lucca – Shaquille – Steve – Michael – Luc – Bob – (Marlon)

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Baseball Against Cancer By Night

logo BACAs you might know, I am a bit of a baseball nut… And I am a sucker for charity. So when you have a charity AND Baseball, COUNT ME IN! Not just donating, but also attending as 1 of the coaches of the hosting team.

This is the first lustrum of Baseball Against Cancer, which started in 2013. Swen Huijer, former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox organisation, together with Joey van Ruth came up with the idea to host a baseball clinic for kids, to fund their participation in the 2013 Alpe D’huzes. They found themselves (with a lot of volunteers) hosting the first event for over 200 kids, with a total proceeds of over €4.000!!!

Each year after that, the venue grew and attracted  more people and attention: not only did the US Ambassador Timothy Broas threw the first pitch at the 2014 edition, but Dutch National Radio 1 reported live during the 2015 edition. More events were added like the Zumba against Cancer, BBQ against cancer & Softball against cancer.

In 2017, to celebrate the 5th anniversary, Baseball Against Cancer By Night is presented: an 17-hour marathon hosted by a youth team playing all through the night against 9 different teams with several celebrities joining and attending!

The schedule for May 2nd-3rd (for now) looks like:
– 16:30 – 18:30 Onze Gezellen Junioren 1
– 18:30 – 20:30 Portland Poema’s
– 20:30 – 22:30 Hoofddorp Pioniers Heren 3
– 22:30 – 00:30 DSS Rookies
– 00:30 – 02:30 Storks Junioren 1
– 02:30 – 04:30 Nuenen Junioren 1
– 04:30 – 06:30 Nighthawks Junioren 1
– 06:30 – 08:30 Ad-M-Visie Hitmanics
– 08:30 – 09:45 Allstar Team

Feel free to donate, or come and visit us during this night! We need all the support we can.

On behalf of:
Joppe – Timothy – Thomas – Michael – Luc – Shaquille – Ward – Teun – Lucca – Jaycy – Steve – Giancarlo – Famke – Merle – Bob – Jules – Arnoud – Barend – Ed.

Prince & Wrecka Stow

wrecka stowWOW! Can you believe it’s been a year already since his untimely departure… 1 year without his musical ingenuity, 1 year where there has been so much hassle about the legacy without a will, or maybe there is a will, without heir, or maybe there is a heir, the taxes that needs to be paid before any clarity on what will happen to all he left behind.

I am a HUGE prince-fan (have over 200 media – 12″, LP, CD) ever since late 1981, when he came up with “Controversy” and a couple of months later he dropped “1999”… Back then I was in my Heavy Metal period, long hair-leather jacket-denim, patches & studs, when this strange dude came out with his mix of Rock, Pop, Funk and the awesome way he played his guitar!!! One of my classmates was like: “you stepping away from the metal to listen to this guy strutting on stage in thong and stockings???”. I told him that this guy was gonna give us what Jimi Hendrix did in the 70’s: INNOVATION IN MUSIC! And boy did he do that! He is the main reason -I strongly believe- I started listening to many different types of music, to find such beauty in so many of the songs, I would not have otherwise listen to.

Every new single, album, side-project, protégé he came up with, had something new to it. The people he was surrounding himself with made him out to be the “PRINCE” of everything, not the Godfather of Soul, not the King of Pop, but the Prince of Music! I every once in a while still buy something I never saw or heared before (Yep, it can happen). For example, last Xmas I bought the last 2 albums (HitNRun Phase 1 and 2) on vinyl – even though they are never release officially. A few months ago I found a promo with Rihanna on one side and Prince’s “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold” on the other side. So I still dig crates and keep an eye out for gems that I need to have. Hahaha vinyl-Hoarder…

RSD2017Which brings me to Record Store Day 2017! Several RE-releases of Prince singles, which I still own from way back, so I will not buy them. But my local Record Store, Northend Records in Haarlem, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a small party and some special release. So in a couple of minutes I will be dragging my wife and 1 of my kids along, on our way to buy something in the Baseball store, to pick up my RDS2017-stuff!

Have a great weekend!

The story of the Longhorn Baseball Cap

Over the years I have build a nice little collection of caps, and not just any caps, but caps of teams I feel a connection with… I hear you thinking: Yeah yeah, so you buy a lot of caps, so what?

No, I have a lot of caps that have a story to it! Every once in a while I will tell you about one of my Special Caps and the story that goes with it!

First one is the latest addition: Texas Longhorns.

What does a Dutchie got to do with wearing a Longhorns cap? I used to play basketball in the late 70’s, early 80’s when the Longhorns dominated the NCAA! Most of you perhaps do not know what NCAA is: National Collegiate Athletic Association. This is THE steppingstone for young athletes to get into NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLS, MLB and so on.
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I do not know whether it was the logo or the color or the combo of both that made me a Longhorn fan, but I rooted for them!!! Years of rooting, but no cap… How would a NCAA cap get to the Netherlands? Even nowadays it is hard to get it delivered…

BUT: My wife and I won a cruise to the Caribbean (Tampa-Honduras-Belize-Tampa) and before we took off everyone on that cruise was able to join a Facebook group to get to know one another. People where sharing their stories & pictures and I saw several people from Texas joining… I was excited enough to boldly ask if someone might bring me a Longhorns cap, so I did!

A lot of people commented that they would love to bring me one, and what kind would I like to have? For me, any would be fine.

Evan was coming to the cruise as well and he was gonna bring me a Longhorns Cap.
This is a picture of Evan & me, when we first met on board & he handed me my Longhorns cap!

Evan Gremont

Evan & Me

I have been wearing this cap for most of the cruise and lots of people asked if I was that guy that wanted the Longhorns cap in the Facebook group… That was nice, since we got to know so many nice people on that cruise with Young Living… And not just because of the cap!

Oh and by the way: I paid it forward!!! That shirt I am wearing in the pic? There was a girl on board (with a broken foot); we met her and her father in the elevator and he commented on my shirt that I was going to be his daughter’s newest best friend. So I asked him why. He said – pointing at my shirt – she plays Softball!!!
Later on I looked her up at the swimming pool deck and I gave her my shirt. So she now has a shirt that was never available outside the Netherlands. ENJOY!!!

Evan, once again: Thank you so much for bringing my cap! I will wear it with pride!!!