A patchwork Dream Team made up of rookies, seasoned players and veterans from Curaçao, Aruba, and Holland, led by Curaçao’s first MLB player and current hitting coach for the SF Giants, Hensley Meulens, was the surprise entry into the Final Four of the 2013 World Baseball Classic tournament. Our magical run included a win over Australia and Korea in Taiwan, two wins over Cuba in Tokyo, and ended in the semi-finals against undefeated Dominican Republic, who then went on to beat Puerto Rico in the finals, in San Francisco’s AT&T Stadium.
Curaçao was glued to the WBC and rooting for our Cinderella team during odd hours of the night and early morning because of time differences. Our awesome players Andruw Jones, Roger Bernadina, Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, Jurickson Profar, Quintin de Cuba, Curt Smith, Wladimir Balentien, Dashenko Ricardo, Hainley Statia, Yurendel de Caster, Jonatan Isenia, Diegomar Markwell, Johnny Balentina, Shairon Martis, Kenley Jansen have made us extremely proud, both on and off the field… Pretty awesome for an island of 145K to make it to the semi-finals of the WBC, huh?!
10. “Hensley got the guys from Curaçao and Holland to come together as a team. That’s what you have to do. In a short period of time, he’s done a great job. What you’re seeing is a guy who one day will be an MLB manager.” – Hall of Famer, Bert Blyleven, Kingdom of the Netherlands Pitching Coach
9. “We’ve got a lot of guys from Curaçao, and we feel like we’re playing for someone who’s like our brother,” Yurendel de Caster said about Manager Hensley Meulens. “We can talk to him, we can trust him. We’re close with him like that.”
8. “The key players that have really shined in the WBC are from Curaçao.” – Hall of Famer, Bert Blyleven, Kingdom of the Netherlands
7. Happy coincidence, 2012 World Series Champs SF Giants & Kingdom of the Netherlands’ colors = Orange and Black. “It’s a great honor just to be able to manage this team into the final round, into our park where I work [AT&T Park], where we won a championship 2 out of 3 years, wearing the same colors!” – Hensley Meulens, Manager of the WBC Kingdom of the Netherlands team and hitting coach for the SF Giants.
6. All-Star Little League buddies Jurickson Profar (20), Jonathan Schoop (21), Andrelton Simmons (23) — among the brightest and youngest infielders in the game right now — got to play on the same team as their childhood baseball idol, Andruw Jones (35)… for the very first time.
5. Our starting pitcher, Diegomar Markwell, has a powerful arm and a huge heart! He has trained 50 boys as part of the ‘Akademia di Beisbòl bándabou Tigers’ in the past several months and is currently raising funds to upgrade their training facilities.
4. Our Babe Ruth, ‘e kid ta kome yambo, e kid ta kome funchi, the kid from Curacao!’ Andruw Jones, youngest ever to hit two home runs during the 1996 World Series at 19 years old, recruited much of our dream team and was considered a father figure during the WBC… An ‘expensive’ position to be in, quipped Andruw.
3. We couldn’t beat Domi-Nation and Fernando Rodney’s ‘lucky Plátano’… I don’t know about you, but we’ll be frying plantain all week. Yum!
2. We may have lost, but we didn’t lose our sense of humor! “If you guys think I’m good at Baseball, you should see me play Korfbal!” – Wladimir Balentien [The Dutch have been Korfball World Champion since 1995; their stiffest competition is Belgium]
1. Long live the awesome Baseball Bromance between Hensley Meulens & Andruw Jones.
“Everything starts with Hensley Meulens. He opened a lot of doors for us guys from Curacao!” – Andruw Jones
“Andruw has played with a lot of heart, a lot of determination, he’s leading by example on the field.” – Hensley Meulens