WILLEMSTAD – The Baseball Week is in full swing and in addition to the sporting activities that take place at the Tio Daou Ballpark, much attention is given to the game itself. The DABA – Dutch Antilles Baseball Academy – founded by Hensley Meulens, kicked off the week by inviting Hunter Pence of the San Francisco Giants as a keynote speaker at their fundraiser.
According to coach Ben Thijssen there is a lot of talent on Curaçao. He is proud to see how the players are putting our island on the international map. “Baseball Week is an opportunity where we can give back to the community. We send invitations to all the teams that are members of Curaçao Little League, and during the first two years nearly 900 children participated. ”
Saturday was the turn of the local coaches, who participated in various seminars and clinics given by legendary coaches like Ron Wotus, Jim Jones and Robert Coffie, and also by the Dutch coaches Steve Janssen and Martijn Nijhoff. The first Little League clinics were held on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, where about twenty professionals and prospects trained with the youngest players.
Yossua Ferreira, age 17, and Eljereau Franscisca, age 16, are very grateful that they can be part of the Baseball Week. “I’ve never experienced anything like this, where a coach takes the time to explain little things that can improve your game and help you with the way you play,” Yossua added. According to Thijssen, it is important for young players to be exposed to coaches and players who can develop their future careers, and also be inspired by their experiences.
Hensley Meulens also agrees with this vision. The batting coach of the San Francisco Giants is a great inspiration for anyone who comes in contact with him. “I have been giving clinics for over 30 years and during an entire month we would teach at every field in Curaçao,” he says. “Now we changed the format and partnered with Blue Bay, and bring the little leaguers together during one week at Tio Daou Ballpark to give them various clinics.”
According Meulens, 85 percent of baseball is your mentality and 15 percent is physical. During spring training this year, he asked Hunter Pence to come to Curaçao and share his experiences. Pence is legendary for his Yes-I-Can attitude and positive influence on his Giants team mates and is credited as a crucial motivating factor. He helped his team achieve two world championships when nobody thought it was possible. “This year our team has the top batting averages of the League and we also have two silver sluggers, which are indicative of the quality of Hensley’s work,” Pence explained. According to Pence, this is due to Hensley’s ability to understand the rhythm of each player and play into their strengths.
During his lecture, Spence explained how this year especially he had to apply his winner’s mentality to deal with the many challenges he encountered because of injury. He also cautioned us about the power of the word. “Be careful what you say to yourself, because if you do not believe that you’re one of the best and belong in the Big Leagues, you won’t be. I believe that I’m standing by the decisions I’ve made in the past”, he concluded.
Additionally, the All-Star pitcher Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays will also participate during the Baseball Week and share his pitching knowledge during the clinics. The last clinics will be held on Friday, followed by a friendly match between the seniors and professional players, finalized by the long-anticipated Homerun Derby.