Another blog, another story about another cap of mine… This is about my EPA-cap.
Every once in a while you have people entering your life, that you cannot get rid off…
Eric de Vries is one of those people.
The first time I met Eric, sometime in 1997, he was coaching the pitchers for Hoofddorp Pioniers. We just moved to Hoofddorp, when I went to the ballpark to watch a game. We had a talk after the game, but I cannot begin to remember what it was about…
In the next couple of years baseball was plan B, until my sons became old enough to pick a sport; we had to figure out what they would like.
Luckily for them I do not play soccer (never have) nor am I a big fan of a soccer-team, I just support AJAX Amsterdam as I am born and raised in Amsterdam and to piss off others… You will never find me or them on a soccer-field in rain or shine.
While we were searching for a club, one friend of ours’ son just started playing peanut-ball at Badhoevedorp; a small town close-by. We went over there to watch a game and I guess that is when we all fell (back) in love with game. Just watching these munchkins in their uniforms and big bats & helmets… Another friend of mine’s daughter started playing peanut-ball in Hoofddorp, which was even closer, so we went over there to watch and ended up with 1 kid becoming a member, 1 kid whining to please-please-please also wanted to join (but was underage) and 1 dad becoming trainer/coach for the team my kid was going to play in. Eventually the youngest also joined!
My kids were both really loving the game and especially the clinics that were giving by the big boys from the Hoofdklasse / Dutch National Team and even the Big Leaguers Rick van der Hurk brought to the Netherlands. During these Wintertrainings or clinics I was more than once asked to lend a hand, and I generally ended up helping Eric de Vries (with Swen Huijer) with the pitchers. You see: we live in a small world!
During the last 10 years Eric and me bumped into each other every once in awhile, but always with big smiling faces, hugs all over the place & loads to talk about. We go about things in a very similar manner: not just in a baseball way but also in general life. On one of the KNBSB catchers training during winter, Eric brought me a cap of EPA: ERIC’S PITCHING ACADEMY… Eric started his academy in 2008 as he was already training so many kids, he was gonna make a living out of it! And boy, he did!!!
Eric and me even got to play on the same team once, during the KIKA Marathon against Cancer that was organized by the LADYBUCS of Amsterdam – the only All-women team in seniors competition. Every team wanting to play against the ladies, had to pay! Every player on the “All-star team” had to pay as well and that was the team we played in together with a great number of players of the Hoofdklasse!
Last season my eldest son no longer wanted to be a catcher and choose to play outfield for the major part of the competition; needless to say that I (still trainer/coach – just different club) occasionally needed him behind the plate, which he did without complaining. During the last part of the competition we had 3 others on the team that would rotate catching, so he could play just outfield. BUT, during the last games of the season I ended up with just 1 pitcher, so I asked of him to pitch a few innings.
Since Eric is on the staff of RCH-Pinguins 1 as pitcher coach, he offered to help the youth out as well with his guidance. My son was in the bullpen several times under Eric’s wings: he had the speed, but lacked the skills. He loved Eric’s lessons so much, he asked if he could go train with Eric during off-season.
This season I am no longer a trainer or coach to the team my son plays in, but I still go to all his games, and then some… My son is now the regular starter for his team, I guess Eric taught him enough to get out there. To makes things even sweeter: How about making your debut in the Overgangsklasse and pitch your first strikeout while the Freezer is watching???
Even though the season is not over yet, he already asked to enter into Eric’s winterschool again.