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