The Amsterdam Urbanus family is synonymous with baseball: three generations have become European champions twelve times in total. Father Familias Hahn – died Friday at the age of 93 – seven times, his son Charles (64) three times and Clay son Nick (27) twice. Grandpa Han was more than just a hero. He was also an innovator who taught Holland to play baseball again in the 1950s. Look back with Charles Urbanus.
Soon after World War II, Han Urbanus was already a national champion of baseball: his strong arm awarded OVVO from Amsterdam-East the national title five times in a row. Albert Palenck – a baseball-crazy Dutch naturalized American – visited OVVO during that successful period during a vacation. He was immediately captured by Han.
The first European
New York-based Palenck was friends with Horace Stoneham, owner of the popular baseball team The New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). Palenk arranged a training period with the giants for Han. “That was a wonderful trip, because he did not travel by plane, but only by boat,” Charles’s son knows. “Not only was he the first Dutch, he was the first European to tour professional American baseball stadiums at the time.”
It was great news that the Amsterdam baseball player had gone to the cradle of his sport. All the newspapers wrote about this trip that would change Dutch baseball forever. This became apparent immediately upon Han’s arrival at the training camp, where he was assigned to cast her. The Americans didn’t know what they were seeing. Obviously, there was a big difference between the Netherlands and the USA throwing. While the Dutch always kept their hind leg on the throw board during throwing, the Americans fired that leg as soon as the ball left the glove. The Dutch simply incorrectly translated the rules of the American game from the instruction manual.
A revolution in Dutch baseball
This made a big difference. Charles: “If you can let go of your leg, you are tossing 30 kilometers per hour faster. This saves a sip of drink. You are less likely to be injured, because your leg is more likely to come off the ground, and therefore less likely to make strange movements.”
In order to convince the Dutch of the American casting method, the giants Hahn presented two films with sample materials. “It contains all the basic techniques. With these cinematic roles under his arm, my father then began a road trip across the Netherlands and visited a whole chain of baseball clubs. Then he gave instructions based on the movie pictures.” This was the biggest revolution in Dutch baseball: After half a century, the American rules of the game were correctly enforced – even when throwing.
“A year later, in 1953, my father went to the United States again,” says Charles. Dams were breached in Zealand, and the flood disaster was countless. So Palink began raising money in the United States for the victims of the disaster. He founded Holland Flood Relief and asked Hahn, as a well-known New York Dutchman, to participate in the group. But this trip was much more luxurious, Charles said. “Now my father can fly over.”
A train to close the dam
Upon his arrival, it turns out Palenck set up a traveling circus. He arranged the so-called “Close-the-dike” train, which ran between New York and Albany, through the Hudson Valley, an area where many Dutch immigrants lived. The train was full of celebrities. Actress Jane White had officially flown the train with water from the Dutch disaster area before leaving.
People standing along the road can stop the train.
Then the celebrities got off the train and the public could donate money. Charles: “It was a huge success. People just signed their checks on the spot on my father’s back.” A total of $ 10,000 was raised this way. After the fundraising campaign, Han did another training period with the Giants. He was now offered a contract, but the Dutchman finally refused kindly for the honor. It was a tough decision, but Urbanus had just finished his accounting training and was on the verge of getting married. He later said, “I really wanted it, but I couldn’t.”
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