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Johnny Balentina

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450px-Johnny Balentina WK 2005.jpg

Randolf Benito Balentina

  • Bats Right, Throws Right

[edit] Biographical Information

Johnny Balentina has been a member of numerous Dutch national teams from 1992 through 2007. He has also played for Neptunus from 1992 through 1999 and in 2006. He has played three times in the Olympics, once in the World Baseball Classic and four times in the Baseball World Cup. Only Marcel Joost and Dirk van 't Klooster have played more games with a Dutch national team. He was the first native of the Netherlands Antilles to play 100 games for the Netherlands national club (and the 7th overall player to reach that level). Additionally, he was among the all-time leaders in appearances in Haarlem Baseball Week. Like Roger Bresnahan, Koichi Sekikawa and Doggie Miller, he is the rare baseball player to regularly appear both in center field and at catcher during his career.

Balentina played in the European championship in 1993, in the 1994 Baseball World Cup (hitting .143/.217/.190 as the starting Dutch team catcher) and in the 1995 European Championship. In the 1995 European Championship, he was the All-Star catcher and MVP after hitting .525/~.568/.600 and leading the competition in runs (17) and stolen bases (10). He batted .263/.300/.263 in the 1995 Intercontinental Cup. He hit .360 in the 1995 World Port Tournament, second-best on the Dutch team. He played for The Netherlands in the 1996 Olympics, hitting a fine 7 for 18 with a triple but only one run and one RBI. He batted .296/~.367/.407 with 6 RBI in seven games in the 1997 World Port Tournament. He was MVP of the 1997 European Championship even though the Netherlands finished second; he hit .714 (second to Belgium's Tonny Verhaert), slugged 1.143 (second to Verhaert), scored 8 runs and drove in 7 in the round-robin phase.

In the 1998 Baseball World Cup, he hit .220/.273/.293 as the regular Dutch catcher. That year, he set a Neptunus club record with 7 triples, which still stood as of 2006. The next year, he hit .333/.381/.389 in the 1999 European Championship to help the Dutch win Gold. In the regular season in Hoofdklasse, Johnny tied for second with 17 doubles for Neptunus. He was MVP of the 1999 Holland Series. In the 1999 World Port Tournament, Balentina batted only .161/~.235/.161 for the winning Dutch entry.

In 2000, Balentina hit .390, third in the league. The ADO player had 60 hits (second-most) and was 9th in slugging (.461). He also participated in the 2000 Olympics. He was involved in the 2001 Baseball World Cup, going just 2 for 16 with no walks and extra-base hits while splitting catching duties with Chairon Isenia. In the 2001 European Championship, Balentina batted .276/.344/.389 with 3 steals, 8 runs and 8 RBI in 8 games for the Gold Medalists. He hit .194/~.194/.278 in the 2001 World Port Tournament.

He was not on the Dutch national team in 2002-2003 after 10 consecutive years with them.

In 2003, Johnny was on the Tornado's in Hoofdklasse (he also was the team's head coach in 2002-2003) and hit .331 (sixth in the league) with 53 hits (5th) and 17 steals (4th) in 21 tries. Balentina returned to the Dutch national team in time for the 2004 Olympics. He hit .353 for the Dutch team in the 2004 Haarlem Baseball Week and won the Jacques Reuvers Award. In the regular Hoofdklasse campaign, he batted .321 (10th in the league) for Kinheim with 27 runs (tied for 7th), 45 hits (tied for 6th), 10 doubles (tied for third) and 24 RBI (8th).

At age 34, the veteran slipped to .277 for Kinheim. He tied for 6th in the league with 44 hits, tied for the lead with 3 triples, was 8th with 23 RBI and 5th in stolen bases (10 in 14 attempts). He was 3 for 8 in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, when the Netherlands made their first semifinal ever.

In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Balentina barely played. He backed up Sidney de Jong at catcher and Andruw Jones, Dirk van 't Klooster and Yurendell DeCaster in the outfield. He went 0 for 1 at the plate as a 9th-inning pinch-hitter for de Jong against Cuba's Yadel Marti. In the 2006 regular season, Balentina led off for Neptunus and hit .356/~.403/.441 while playing error-free ball both at catcher (27 games) and center field (13 games). He finished third in the league in average, led in runs (40) and hits (63), tied for 10th in doubles (9), tied for 4th in triples (4) and the 34/35-year-old veteran stole 23 bases in 28 tries to lead in steals by five.

In the 2007 European Championship, Balentina hit .313/.300/.500 for the Dutch team as they won the Gold and qualified for the 2008 Olympics.

In the 2007 Hoofdklasse Honkbal season, Johnny batted .350/.423/.467 and stole 16 bases in 23 tries. He was 8th in the league in average, tied for second with three triples and tied Raily Legito and Ronald Jaarsma for the lead in stolen bases.

Through 2007, Balentina's career line in Hoofdklasse is .343/?/.474 with 560 runs in 645 games.

Through 2006, Balentina's 39 triples were the most in Neptunus history as were his 146 steals.

Balentina played for the Royal Scorpions in Curacao in 2008, the first time since 1990 he had not appeared in Hoofdklasse. He signed with Parma for 2009, following fellow Dutch national Ivanon Coffie to play in rival Italy. It had been two decades since Eddy Tromp and Win Remmerswaal had been the most recent Dutch players in Italy. With Parma, Balentina was expected to mentor Riccardo Bertagnon. Balentina debuted on Opening Day as the starting catcher and leadoff man for Parma but went 0 for 4 with two K's.

He is a cousin of Shaldimar Daantji.

Sources: Marco Stoovelar's Netherlands baseball page, Honkbalsite.com, 1997 Baseball Almanac, Neptunus website, Harry Wedemeijer's international tourney stats, Mister Baseball

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