WILLEMSTAD: Family and brotherhood are the most important values for Sharlon and Jonathan Schoop. For the past three years, both brothers have been playing for the Baltimore Orioles. Jonathan has been playing in the Major Leagues and Sharlon for the Triple A. Both look back to a successful 2016, where Sharlon was called up as a standby in the Major Leagues for three days, increasing his future chances for a permanent spot on the roster. If this happens, it would be the first time in our history that two brothers will play for the same Major League team.
Jonathan is especially satisfied, since he was able to play 162 games and achieved solid stats during this season. Despite all their successes, the Schoop brothers religiously return to Curaçao during their four-month break, to spend quality time with family and friends. Sharlon, who returned to his favorite position as a short stop, hopes to get another opportunity in the Major Leagues. “Not to place the blame on anything specifically, but I endured a lot of injuries during my career. I’ve been playing in the Minor Leagues for thirteen years, where I played with the Giants for seven, two with Kansas City, to then sign with the Orioles”, he explains.
Comparing their game
“I don’t worry when people do that”, Jonathan explains. “If you tell me that he’s better than I am, I’d agree with you, because he’s my brother. That kind of rivalry doesn’t exist between us, because I can’t go against my brother”, he adds. Sharlon recounted how a manager once asked Jonathan what the difference was between the two. “He replied that the opportunities that Jonathan has gotten, I haven’t had thus far”. According to Sharlon, talent and luck are essential, and the coaches need to believe in your abilities. Jonathan is optimistic that his brother will one day reach the Major Leagues. “He’s a tremendous player and he has a lot of experience, because he’s been through allot. I’ve studied him and learned from him. He only needs to relax, continue to do his best and if it’s going to happen, it will happen”, Jonathan adds.
The life of baseball
According to Sharlon, life as a professional baseball player is not a walk in the park, since a player maintains a hectic training and travel schedule and isn’t left with much time off. “You give up allot for the game, like your youth, education, and free time. There isn’t any amount of money that can buy that back”, he explains. On an average day, I arrive at the field at 3 PM, I eat, go to the gym, then we warm up and stretch, to prepare for the 7 PM game. After we’re done with the game, we go home and the next day do it all over again”, Jonathan explains. “During one month we might get one to two days off”, they add.
Making a sweet deal
When a baseball prospect starts to get attention from professional teams, Sharlon advises the parents to negotiate a good signing bonus. “You can never predict the luck of your child, however if it doesn’t pan out, you at least have a backup”, he explains. According to Sharlon, the better the signing bonus, the more attention a team will give a prospect and the greater its chances are to advance professionally. Contingent on his talent and skills, Sharlon believes that a good signing bonus should start around 200.000 USD. He also emphasizes that the coaches need to start investing more in the game and skill sets of the players, instead of only focusing on winning. Jonathan agrees with him, and believes that more money needs to be poured into baseball. “Local kids can go far with baseball”, he explains. “That’s why baseball needs to be promoted more, where perhaps we can start a (permanent) baseball academy that is better suited to cultivate talent”, Jonathan explains.
The Schoop brotherhood
Currently Jonathan and Sharlon live together in Baltimore. “I’m the cleanest of the two, because Jon always loses stuff in the house”, Sharlon jokingly declares. Yet the bond with Curaçao remains strong, since both brothers have families and children that still live on the island and consider it their real home. When you arrive at the home of the Schoop family in Sta. Maria on any given day, you’ll encounter a vibrant atmosphere, where several relatives and neighborhood friends gather to discuss the daily occurrences. Quickly a BBQ is lit or somebody prepares a scrumptious meal to feed the domino playing guests. “We grew up here and do everything together, from playing sports to parties”, Jonathan explains. “Its Sta. Maria City and we are proud of our neighborhood”, he declares.
According to the Schoop brothers, when you engage in positivism, your focus should remain on that. “It’s exciting to see my friends do great things, and that’s why we’ve decided to build a recording studio in our yard, so they can continue to create music. We don’t have to go anywhere for our entertainment, but can stay home and chill”, Jonathan explains with a laugh.
At the end of our visit, a loud and hilarious discussion ensued between the Schoop brothers about who is their parents’ favorite child. Even the oldest brother Slaider – nicknamed Sli – chimed in. Sharlon loudly declares that Sli is their mother’s favorite, where Jonathan quickly adds “but you’re definitely our father’s favorite, since he does EVERYTHING for you”. “Whatever”, Sharlon exclaims, “you know how hard it is to get him to do anything for me, however when Jon asks, our father jumps”, he quickly shoots back. “It’s funny how much alike they are”, Slaider adds with a smile. “Maybe I am my mother’s favorite”, Slaider quips, and “because I stayed with her in Curacao and I take good care of her” he concludes. To put an end to the controversy, Mrs. Claudette explains with a big smile that she loves all her children equally. “I always had to caution the elder boys not to pick on Jonathan so much. But now look how much taller he is than them both”, she laughs.