2012 High School Trip - Daily Reports
Just a quick note to let everyone know that the entire team arrived safely today with nary a delay. To avoid the light rain that started falling as soon as we set foot outside, we had a walk-thru practice in the Dorint hotel ballroom. This was probably a first for everyone involved, but it was productive. We then dragged a bunch of jet-lagged ballplayers on a 4km hike through the Amsterdam Woods to dinner in a thatched-roof windmill that was built in 1672. It was a beautiful place (www.jongedikkert.nl <http://www.jongedikkert.nl/> ) and the food was very good, but the portion of steak served was definitely not Texas-sized. A photo of the team in front of the restaurant is attached to this email. I think the attachment may be upside down, for which I apologize, but you should be able to rotate the photo on your computer screen. Tomorrow morning, we will have breakfast at the hotel before taking the team bus to our first games. We are playing at Amsterdam's baseball stadium, with a 3pm game vs the Czech 21U National Team and a 7pm game vs the Dutch 18U National Team. These opponents will be talented, so the OWB squad will have to shake off the effects of travel in order to compete.
We will continue to provide daily updates via email, and we will be regularly adding posts and videos to OWB's Facebook and Youtube pages.
After 12 hours of a sleep and a great breakfast, we departed Dorint Hotel for the Amsterdam Pirates' stadium. The Pirates club fields 30 youth and adult baseball and softball teams, including one team that plays in the Hoofdklasse (i.e., the Dutch major league). The facilities are excellent, and we had the privilege of meeting the man who founded the club 53 years ago. Also present was Robert Eenhorn. Robert, who is now the general manager of the Dutch national team program, battled with Derek Jeter for the Yankees' shortstop job in the mid-90s. While we know how that turned out, Robert did earn a 1996 World Series ring!
Back to OWB, the weather cooperated, and we had a very long day of baseball: 90 minutes of BP and other pre-game activities, followed by two 9-inning games. After 6 innings of game 1, we were leading the Czech U21 National Team 2-1, but some late inning mistakes cost us dearly and we lost 7-2. Our efforts in game 1 were highlighted by 4 no-hit innings with 5 Ks from Ryan Callanan. OWB's other game 1 pitchers were Byron Pitts-Howard and Alex Chiang. Fatigue really started to manifest itself in game 2, and we were beaten 12-0 by a skilled Dutch 18U National Team playing in front of a partisan crowd. There were few highlights in this game, but each of our 3 pitchers (Will Nichol, Joe Warren and Tristam Osgood) had at least 1 clean inning. We struggled offensively throughout the day, but Billy Arendt, Conner Gunn and Andrew Petersdorf each had a hit in both ends of the doubleheader, and every position player on the trip had an opportunity to play.
The good news on the baseball end is that we have another shot at the Czech team tomorrow afternoon, and two more shots at the Dutch. The good news on the off-field front is that we are checked into our hostel in Heemskerk, and our quarters are on the grounds of a 13th century castle with an actual moat! See attached photo. I will also separately email some additional photos from today. You can see a few photos on our facebook page, and you can now access just a couple of short videos from yesterday's indoor session on youtube.com.
Off to bed!
Today's game ended 4-0 to the Czechs. It was a much better, cleaner game as the boys work to put their jet lag behind them. We arrived at the complex just after 1pm, and all of the infield was under water. Due to great drainage and the heroic (or intelligent) efforts of the grounds crew (1 man), we were taking infield at 3:30pm and started the game one hour late. We were lucky to be in Amsterdam with the tough weather, given that the host club also had an indoor facility - a rarity near European baseball fields - where we could warm up and take batting practice prior to that. Since there was already another game scheduled for 7pm after us, we shortened the game to 7 innings. Blake Coolidge started and threw into the third inning, struggling with his control but giving up only two hits. He was followed by Cole Dreyfuss for 2+ innings, which included getting us out of an inning with two outs on his first pitch. Then Colin Brown and Max Araya for an inning each. The three relievers combined to allow only 1 hit. Unfortunately, Old World issued 12 walks for the game.
On the offensive side, Sam Reid, Conner Gunn, Andrew Petersdorf, and Colin Brown each recorded a base hit, while Alex Chiang drew a walk in the final frame. There were a number of well hit balls, especially early in the game, that went directly at players.
We spent the evening in Leidseplein at a sports bar that had all-you-can-eat ribs. This is shaping up as an annual event; the Old World Baseball off-field championship of sorts. This year's winner was (Macalester-bound) Jordan Katz with 8 full racks of ribs. Byron Pitts-Howard was a very respectable silver medalist with a comfortable seven. The estimated overall consumption was 1134 ribs while three players ate other food from the menu. That's an average of 54 ribs per player.
Tomorrow we check out of the castle and drive to Leiden for a private tour and boat ride before heading back to Amsterdam for another dinner - this time, an Indonesian Rijstafel. Friday we tour Amsterdam itself, including the Anne Frank house and a traditional Pancake House. Friday evening, we'll play our fourth game overall and second against the Netherlands before driving to Antwerp.
Thursday was our designated off/tourist day. We were dodging raindrops on the way across the moat to breakfast again, but the skies cleared mid-morning and gave us perfect weather to explore Leiden. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Corinne Araya, Max's mom, who helped us organize lunch and a boat ride on the canals of the city. Through personal connections of Corinne and Max, we also got a private tour of the city from twin brothers who are first-year students at the University of Leiden - another great and unique experience.
Late in the afternoon, we returned to central Amsterdam for a Rijstafel or Ricetable, an Indonesian meal consisting of a dozen or more small courses. This is a popular specialty meal in Holland. The boys also had about 45 minutes prior to dinner to explore the surrounding area on their own. We then returned to our excellent hotel for the evening, which has a pool and gym that many of the players used, as well as a gorgeous park across the street.
Tomorrow will include a traditional Dutch pancake meal, a walking tour of central Amsterdam, and a visit to the incomparable Anne Frank house and museum. We'll then play a 6pm game vs the Netherlands 18U National Team, followed by dinner in the clubhouse and a transfer to Antwerp, Belgium. Saturday, we'll play the Belgium men's national team at noon, then explore Bruges, Belgium by bike.
Our good luck with the weather continued today, as a cold, rainy morning gradually gave way to a beautiful afternoon and evening. This meant that we were able to have another full day of activities, tarting with a huge Dutch pancake meal, continuing with an Amsterdam city walking tour, an emotionally powerful visit to the Anne Frank Museum and another ballgame against the Dutch 18U national team, and ending with a bus transfer to Antwerp. Some photos from the day’s activities are attached to this email, and we have also added some materials to our Facebook and Youtube pages.
All in all, it was another very positive day, but luck on the field continues to elude us. Rather than blaming Friday the 13th, however, we’ll point the finger at our talented opponents. The Dutch men’s national team is the reigning world champion, and the Dutch 18U national team consists of the best players in that age group that the Netherlands has to offer. Anyway, the same Dutch team that beat us 12-0 on Tuesday slipped past us in a 7-5 decision today. While everyone would’ve been much happier with a win, all of the coaches feel that we played today’s game like a college team. We took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd on the strength of hits by Andrew Petersdorf and Kevin Kennedy and a sac fly from Max Araya. Our lead was short-lived, however; we gave up a 5-spot in the top of 3rd. The teams played very evenly for the next several innings, and we entered the bottom of the 9th down 7-2. Things looked bleak, but we went down fighting with our best offensive inning of the trip so far. With 2 outs, and facing a very tough left-handed pitcher, Andrew Petersdorf drilled a 2-run double to the wall in left-center. Kevin Kennedy quickly followed up with an RBI single to close the gap to 7-5. Kevin’s hit was his second of the game and the team’s 10th hit. Unfortunately, it was also our last hit, and the game ended with the potential tying run at the plate. Sam Reid, John Paseur, RJ Watters, Sean McCoy and Max Araya also had hits in the game, and the team received quality innings on the mound from Will Nichol, Byron Pitts-Howard, Tristam Osgood and Max Araya, none of whom gave up any earned runs. We limited each pitcher’s pitch count today in an effort to preserve arms for the balance of the trip. Beginning with today’s game, we have a stretch of 6 scheduled games in a 5-day span.
On another baseball note, on a daily basis the coaching staff has been emphasizing skills and behaviors that will help the OWB players successfully transition to college baseball. The guys have already made substantial progress in this regard (for example, the pitchers have started to do a better job of attacking hitters and pitching to contact), and we will continue to emphasize this.
Tomorrow we will take another shot at our first win on the trip, this time against the Belgian men’s national team. We will then go to the fabulous city of Bruges for a bicycle tour and dinner.
This was the best baseball game we have played to date. Old World jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a Conner Gunn base hit preceding Max Araya’s opposite field home run. The Dutch 18U national team pitching was solid, allowing only four more baserunners through the rest of the game, with Sam Berk getting the only other base hit. Offensively, the Dutch were held at bay, but they found just enough offense in the 7th to pull out a 3-2 victory.
Blake Coolidge pitched effectively and efficiently, lasting into the seventh inning before tiring. The Dutch first threatened in the 5th, getting their first two hitters to second and third base. However, after a chopper back to the mound and a rundown led to the first out, Blake got a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the inning unscathed. He left with two outs and the bases loaded in the 7th, with only 6 batters reaching in the previous six innings. Byron Pitts-Howard came on in relief. After walking one run in, the Dutch cleanup hitter stroked a clean single up the middle to plate two more runs. Byron then struck out the next hitter to keep the deficit to a single run. He came back again in the eighth with a 1-2-3 inning, but OWB did not threaten again, falling 3-2.
Game 7: Sunday July 15th.
Well, we took a step back in the afternoon, losing to the Belgian men's national team 5-2. Joe Warren gutted out 5+ innings after struggling to throw strikes through the first two. Belgium scored three times in those first two frames with one hit. Joe did find it eventually, and he was followed by Alex Chiang, Tristam Osgood (who threw 1.2 perfect innings), and Andrew Petersdorf, Conner Gunn, Petersdorf, Kevin Kennedy, and Blake Coolidge all had multiple hits.
After getting back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we got to see more of Antwerp than the airport runway beyond the outfield fence of both fields. We had a team meal at The Bistro in downtown Antwerp followed by an evening walking tour of the city. We’ll have breakfast Monday morning before riding 3-4 hours to Cologne, Germany – there we will explore the city center and climb the cathedral tower before a 6pm game against the local club, the Cologne Cardinals. As usual, some photos from today are attached.
Another day of amazing luck with the weather. Despite it pouring with rain through the morning, including as we boarded the bus at our hotel, we started our game only 15 minutes late. The ground was soft, but it stopped raining around 11am and no more drops fell until a very brief rain delay in the 6th inning. The second shower was more substantial, and finally ended the game - in the 9th inning, and in a tie. After a great pasta meal in the clubhouse (or dugout, or rain) as spectators, teams, and others sheltered from the downpour, we drove to the historic city of Bruges. Along the hour drive, we had sun rays and several downpours. But on the 3+ hour bike tour and dinner, we did not get wet until we re-entered the city right before travelling back to Antwerp for the evening.
The game see-sawed through 6 innings, as Belgium took an early 3-0 lead through 3 innings off starter Ryan Callanan, who walked one and struck out five. Colin Brown knocked in the first run for Old World in the 6th with a clean single, Andrew Petersdorf plated the second with a one-hopper off the left-centerfield wall. OWB added a third run in the 7th to tie the game behind a leadoff hit by Conner Gunn, a hit by Max Araya and an RBI single by RJ Watters. In the meantime in the other halves, Cole Dreyfuss walked two and hit one, but did not allow a hit until his 5th inning (the 8th). OWB got three more runs in the 8th to take a 6-3 lead... Billy Arendt relieved to finish the 8th, suffering from a couple of poor defensive decisions as his inherited runners scored. After 8, Belgium had come back to tie the game at 6 runs apiece. The game was called in the top of the 9th, as OWB was at the plate with the potential winning run on base.
To Bruges we then went, where we were treated with the aformentioned great weather for our bike ride around and out of the city. We cycled 17 miles in total, learning about historical battles, the breeding and birthing of cattle, and the plans of Napoleon. We had a great BBQ dinner in the small village of Oostkerke, at the restaurant De Knotwilg (knotty willow) before following the "stinky" canal back into the city. The boys then had a short period of time for chocolate, waffles, and exploration. Some photos from today are attached.
We have two games planned for Sunday; the first at 11am being our third and final matchup with the Netherlands 18U team, and the second being a rematch of our tie from today against the Belgium men. We'll close out the day with a ghost tour of Antwerp.
After a late night arrival at our castle, we had a quiet start to the day. We left the hotel at 10:30am on rented bikes, doing a 20-mile loop down one side of the Rhine River and back up the other with a ferry ride in between. We got wet, dried out, got wet again, dried out again, then mostly remained wet. That said, it wasn’t too cold, the ride was flat and smooth, and we saw castles, ruins, vineyards, and other sites. We returned to central Bonn for a late lunch and quick explore, then traveled the 45 minutes to Solingen for our game.
It was a long day for us, split between two countries and three cities, and the players will sleep well tonight. We checked out of our Antwerp hotel this morning and drove straight to Cologne, arriving at our first German destination just after noon. We had a team lunch at an upscale burger place called Hans im Gluck, and the players then had about 2.5 hours of pretty good weather to explore Cologne independently. Most of the players (and staff) used part of that block of time to climb the 533 steps to the top of Cologne's cathedral, with one reward of that effort being a spectacular view of the city.
In the evening, we played the Cologne Cardinals, a German "major league" team, and we lost 10-5 in cold, wet conditions. Will Nichol mastered the conditions for his first three innings on the mound, but a few walks and defensive mistakes allowed the Cards to build a snowman (i.e., an 8-run outburst) in the 4th inning. This turned a 3-0 advantage into an 8-3 deficit that we were ultimately unable to overcome. Tristam Osgood, Sam Reid and Andrew Petersdorf also pitched in the game, with Andrew recording two outs in a 1-pitch outing. Remarkably, this was the second such outing on our trip, as Cole Dreyfuss had one earlier. Offensively, we had just a few hits, but we had 9 stolen bases, a couple of perfectly-executed hit and runs, and a beautiful push bunt from Blake Coolidge. Basically, apart from the 4th inning, the team played a solid game. And, the players have certainly learned a great deal so far about what it will take for them to transition successfully to the college game.
We finally escaped the rainy ballfield for a lengthy dinner at an indoor biergarten - lengthy because we waited nearly 2 hours for our main courses to be served. The players were incredibly patient, however, and they ultimately enjoyed a good, traditional German meal. Now we have checked into the Schlosshotel Kommende, a picture of which is on our Facebook page. It is a great place just outside of Bonn, very different from our other accommodations, and we look forward to seeing it in the daylight tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, the players will have a chance to sleep in a bit, as our first activity is a Rhine River bike tour that departs from our hotel at 1030am. Tomorrow will also be our last game day (and our last shot at a win!), as we take on the Solingen Alligators, another German "major league" team at 6pm. As usual, some photos from today's activities are attached to this email.
Today was our final full day in Europe. We left Bonn at 10am to drive back to the Netherlands. Almost immediately, we hit thick traffic... so our arrival at Haarlem Honkbal (Baseball) Week was delayed. We were able to catch a couple of innings of Team USA versus Taiwan in a rain-delayed afternoon game before our dinner reservation, which was a BBQ buffet. Unfortunately, the Cuba vs Netherlands game that we planned to attend was rained out, but we had fun nonetheless with an hour or so of bowling. The guys really enjoyed one last chance to bond and enjoy each other's company. We have now returned to the Dorint Hotel at Amsterdam airport, and the shuttles and accompanying return flights begin tomorrow morning.
The trip has gone incredibly fast, and has hopefully been an enjoyable experience for all. We got to see a fair bit of Europe, and, unbelievably, we played each and every one of our nine scheduled games despite heavy rain occurring at some point during each day of our trip!
Thanks to all! We have little doubt your sons will return home tomorrow full of stories and looking forward to sharing their photos. We hope the impact and the experiences are lasting and beneficial.
We will follow up soon with final information, links to photos, and requests for input as to how we can improve the Old World Baseball experience. In the meantime, we would appreciate receiving an email from each family confirming that each player has returned home safely. Finally, if we can answer questions or help in any way, shape, or form - please do not hesitate to ask.
The Solingen Alligators are the defending German “major league” champions, and they are currently in the quarterfinals of this season’s playoffs. They were excited to get meaningful competition, and we were excited to play at such a great facility against such a well-run and talented team. We lost the 9 inning game 7-0. It was a well-played game, led by the pitching of Cole Dreyfuss, Ryan Callanan, Byron Pitts-Howard, Max Araya, and Colin Brown. They threw strikes and challenged a solid lineup of experienced adult players. Kevin Kennedy led the offensive attack with two hits while playing a steady second base. Sam Reid added a beautiful bunt base hit. As a team, Old World had our best day of at-bats, considering the quality of the pitching and the number of hard hit balls. The players learned a great deal watching how Solingen handled themselves and how they played and respected the game.
Postgame, the boys also got a great interactive experience, as Solingen invited us for a bbq at the field. The boys got to quiz the players about life and baseball in Germany, and how they got to where they are. It was a perfect ending, minus the score!
We leave tomorrow morning to drive back to the Netherlands. We should arrive in Haarlem in time to catch part of the Team USA vs Taiwan game. We’ll then have another barbeque and go to a bowling alley for the early evening, then return to the stadium for a rematch of last year’s World Cup final – Cuba against the World Champion Netherlands men’s team.
One more day to go, with all our games in the rearview mirror. It should be a great end to a great trip.