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Robert Eenhoorn

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Robert Franciscus Eenhoorn

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Sir Robert Eenhoorn had a brief major league career spread out over four seasons, but was a productive player in the minors and has been a big factor in Dutch baseball for many years. As a player, he appeared in the Olympics twice. He later managed the Dutch national team in both the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Eenhoorn won both MVP and Coach of the Year honors in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. He currently is the Technical Director for the Dutch national team, performing that role so well that it won him a knighthood in his homeland.

[edit] Early life

Eenhoorn's father played baseball during World War II as an act of Dutch rebellion against the German occupation. Robert played soccer and baseball growing up and credited his soccer play with helping his footwork on the diamond. [1]

[edit] 1980s

He played for Neptunus and Haarlem Nicols in the Dutch Hoofdklasse from 1984-1990. He won the Ron Fraser Award as the top Dutch prospect in 1984. [2] He was on the Netherlands’ Gold Medal team in the 1987 European Championship. [3] He also played for his homeland in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and in the 1988 Baseball World Cup (hitting .256/.283/.395, fielding .887 with 8 errors in 11 games at SS). [4] He was not the only member of those Dutch teams who would wind up in the majors; one of his teammates was Rikkert Faneyte.

[edit] Professional baseball career in the US

Eenhoorn was named the third-team All-American shortstop by Baseball America in 1990 while attending Davidson College in North Carolina. [5] From 1949-2011, he is the only major league player to come out of Davidson. [6]The New York Yankees made him a second-round draft pick in 1990, one round after they took Carl Everett. The pick was compensation for the loss of free agent Walt Terrell to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the 45th overall pick, between Bob Wickman and Darrell Whitmore.

Eenhoorn began his professional career with the pennant-winning Oneonta Yankees in the New York-Penn League and hit .268/.324/.355. He stole 11 bases in 15 tries. He was voted to the League All-Star team as a utility infielder and was labeled a "defensive genius" by Baseball America. He led the league's shortstops in fielding percentage (.960). According to Baseball America, he was the top prospect in a league that produced Carlos Delgado (rated #4), Jeromy Burnitz (#10) and Brian Giles (unranked). [7]

In 1991 he hit .350/.395/.575 for the GCL Yankees and .241/.320/.343 for the Prince William Cannons. The next season, he batted .305/.370/.409 with the Fort Lauderdale Yankees and .235/.271/.327 for the Albany Yankees after entering the season as the #6 prospect in the Yankees system according to Baseball America. He was downgraded to #7 after the year, behind Derek Jeter and ahead of Dave Silvestri among pinstriped shortstops. [8]

In 1993, he was the All-Star shortstop in the Eastern League. He batted .280/.324/.433 that season, doing a good job at AA at age 25. He was removed from the top Yankee prospect list after that year. [9]

In 1994, Robert batted .239/.270/.324 for the Columbus Clippers. He went 2 for 4 in his first cup of coffee with the Yankees in 1994. In his big league debut, he pinch-hit for Pat Kelly with a 11-1 lead in the 6th. He was retired by Bobby Thigpen. Staying in the game at shortstop, with Mike Gallego moving to second base to replace Kelly, he turned a double play with Gallego and Don Mattingly in the bottom of the inning. He came up again and doubled off Goose Gossage to open the 9th and came home on a hit by Randy Velarde. [10]

With Jeter moving up to Columbus in 1995, Eenhorn was moved to second base and batted .252/.300/.352. He was 2 for 14 in the majors. In 1996, he hit .337/.406/.448 for a title-winning Columbus contingent but was only 1 for 14 in the major leagues.

Placed on waivers, he was snatched in September 1996 by the Anaheim Angels. In 1997, he hit .308/.350/.473 for the Vancouver Canadians and tied Edgar Caceres for the Pacific Coast League lead with 12 sacrifice hits. [11] He was 7 for 20 with the 1997 Angels, playing his last major league contest that season. He also hit his only home run in The Show, going deep off the Texas Rangers'Roger Pavlik as part of a four-RBI day. [12] He closed out his US career in 1998 with the Norfolk Tides (.233/.279/.352).

Altogether, his major league career comprised appearances in four seasons, of which 20 games were with the Yankees and 17 with the Angels. He played at second base, shortstop and third base. He hit .239/.260/.328 in the majors, fielding .930. In the minors, he had batted .271/.320/.391 with 359 runs and 322 RBI in 758 games, while fielding .954.

[edit] 1999-2001: Player-coach in the Netherlands

Robert was on the Netherlands Gold Medal team in the 1999 European Championships. His 11-year hiatus from international competition was due to the fact that professional players were not allowed to play until 1997; after his amateur career ended in 1989, he had thus been sidelined. In that European Championship, he batted .200/.304/.200 only and made three errors in five games at shortstop; the Dutch won Gold despite his struggles. He hit .316/.366/.368 in the 1999 World Port Tournament. He had four errors in nine games but split WPT MVP honors with double play mate Ken Brauckmiller as they turned 10 double plays during the tournament. [13] The Netherlands beat a Cuban B-squad led by stars Osmani Urrutia and Joan Carlos Pedroso, 2 games to 1, in the finals. In game 3, Eenhoorn drove in two of the three Dutch runs. [14] In the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, Eenhoorn hit a miserable .087/.125/.087 for the Netherlands. [15] During the regular season, he was player-head coach (the Dutch equivalent of manager) and his Neptunus team won the 1999 Holland Series. [16] He led the 1999 Hoofdklasse with 19 doubles and hit 16 homers to tie Elston Hansen and Raymond Hofer for the lead. [17]

He hit .335 with 35 RBI in the regular season and managed Neptunus to the 2000 Holland Series title. He was among the league leaders in average (9th, between Gino Henson and Faneyte), runs (38, tied for second with Raily Legito behind Hansen), hits (51, 7th), doubles (a league-best 16), home runs (3, tied for 8th), RBI (3rd behind Remy Maduro and Mike Crouwel) and slugging (4th behind Maduro, Crouwel and Marcel Kruyt). [18] He was named Hoofdklasse MVP as well as Coach of the Year, the first person to take both honors in the same year. [19]

In the 2000 Haarlem Baseball Week, he was 4 for 21 with two doubles, a walk and an error. [20] Eenhoorn played for the Netherlands at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He was not productive in those Olympics, going 3 for 26 with one walk, no runs and no RBI. He was caught stealing in both of his attempts. Defensively, he had 3 errors in six games, fielding .929. Only Evert-Jan 't Hoen hit worst among the Dutch regulars. He was 0 for 3 in the historic Dutch win over Silver Medal-winning Cuba. [21] He retired as a player at season's end. Overall, he had hit .347 with 26 HR in 252 games in the Netherlands. [22] His number 16 was later retired by Neptunus. [23]

He guided Neptunus to a third straight title in 2001 and again was Coach of the Year. He became the second head coach to guide his team to three straight titles; Jan-Dick Leurs had won four. [24]

Eenhoorn then set up the first baseball academy in Europe, the Unicorns academy (Eenhorn is Dutch for unicorn). The baseball academy model has been duplicated in other European countries and has led to a significant increase in the number of European players signing with MLB clubs. [25] Eenhorn said "I had to close a big gap when I arrived in America. I had to figure it out on my own; I had nobody to ask what it would be like. Boys these days do have that. The gap between Europe and a professional career is smaller." [26]

Eenhoorn shown just after the Beijing Olympics in 2008

[edit] 2001-2008: Managing the Dutch national team

He managed the Netherlands to a Gold Medal at the 2001 European Championships, a seventh-place finish in the 2001 Baseball World Cup and tied for 8th at the 2003 Baseball World Cup. He missed the 2003 European Championship due to a family tragedy; Davey Johnson took his place. [27] He was the manager of the 2004 Dutch Olympic team that finished sixth at the Athens Games. His coaches included Davey Johnson and Hensley Meulens. He guided the Netherlands to a 4th-place finish in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, the highest Dutch finish ever to that point. [28] He then led the Dutch to the Gold in the 2005 European Championship. He managed the Netherlands in the 2006 World Baseball Classic; he selected 18-year-old starting pitcher Shairon Martis against Panama and the move paid off as Martis threw the first no-hitter in World Baseball Classic History.

He managed his team to the 2007 European Championship title, winning a spot in the 2008 Olympics. [29] Eenhoorn led the Orange to a repeat of their 2005 fourth place in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He piloted the team to a win over Cuba, the first Cuban loss to a European team in a World Cup. [30] Through the 2007 World Cup, he led all Dutch national team managers in games (169) and wins (111, 39 more than Jan Dick Leurs). Eenoorhn won the CEB Coach of the Year Award for 2007, the first time it was awarded. [31]

He also managed the Dutch team at the 2008 Olympics, making him a two-time Olympic player and two-time Olympic manager, the only person to accomplish that in baseball.

[edit] 2009- : Technical director of the Dutch team, Knighthood

Following the 2008 Olympics, Eenhorn transitioned into the role of technical director (the equivalent of Dutch national team general manager) for the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Federation and Rod Delmonico replaced him as manager of the Dutch national team. [32]

On November 11, 2011, he was knighted on the order of Queen Beatrix, after he led the Dutch team to the 2011 Baseball World Cup title in his role as technical director, assembling the winning squad. It was the first global baseball tournament won by the Netherlands, as they beat Cuba twice as well as the US and other powers, in a performance that confirmed the country's progression in international baseball ranks over the preceding decade. Also knighted were manager Brian Farley and catcher Sidney de Jong. [33] [34]

Among Eenhoorn's future goals are having MLB regular season games played in Europe and MLB funding for Dutch baseball. [35] In 2014, Eenhorn left the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Federation to become general director of the soccer team AZ Alkmaar. [36]

[edit] References

  1. 2008 New York Times article about baseball in the Netherlands
  2. Neptunus website
  3. List of European Championship rosters
  4. Defunct IBAF site
  5. 1991 Baseball Almanac, pg. 264
  6. BR page for Davidson
  7. 1991 Baseball Almanac, pg. 193-195, 1991 Baseball Guide, pg. 469
  8. 1993 Baseball Almanac, pg. 146 and 1994 Baseball Almanac, pg. 153
  9. 1994 Baseball Almanac, pg. 246 and 1995 Baseball Almanac, pg. 144
  10. Box score for Eenhoorn's debut
  11. 1998 Baseball Almanac, pg. 249
  12. Box score for the game with Eenhoorn's MLB homer
  13. 1999 World Port Tournament stats
  14. 1999 World Port Tournament finale
  15. Defunct IBAF site
  16. 2000 Baseball Almanac, pg. 328
  17. 1999 Hoofdklasse leaders
  18. Hoofdklasse league leaders for 2000
  19. Marco Stoovelaar's article on the 2000 Dutch baseball and softball awards A snippet by Stoovelaar mentioning Eenhoorn's being the first to be both MVP and Coach of the Year
  20. 2000 Haarlem Baseball Week stats, courtesy of Harry Wedemeijer
  21. Defunct IBAF site
  22. Neptunus website
  23. Marco Stoovelaar's report on retired Neptunus numbers
  24. Marco Stoovelaar's Dutch baseball site
  25. ESPN.com
  26. ESPN.com article, cited above
  27. Baseball in Europe by Josh Chetwynd, pg. 254
  28. Honkbalsite
  29. Honkbalsite
  30. Mister Baseball
  31. [pointer=84&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=618&tx_ttnews[backPid]=15&cHash=178279bc3c CEB] Marco Stoovelaar article on the award
  32. Mister Baseball on Delmonico's hiring
  33. Article by Marco Stoovelaar on the knighting
  34. Baseball America column by John Manuel
  35. ESPN.com
  36. Mister Baseball

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