WILLEMSTAD – In a well secured Tio Daou ballpark, the Baseball Week ended with a thrilling Homerun Derby. The local favorite and “Homerun King” of Japan, Wladimir ‘Coco’ Balentien went to battle with the Dutch star Kalian Sams and Jonathan Schoop of the Baltimore Orioles. Ultimately Kalian Sams hit the ball twice in a row from the Tio Daou Ballpark and secured his victory. But Coco Balentien also showed the fans his carefully honed talent during an amazing display of pure strength. “Two years ago I didn’t do anything, but this year I did something”, he declared. The general section quickly filled up with adoring fans, however the VIP section remained emptier, so the organizers handed out free tickets to also fill these up.
The last day of the Baseball Week began quietly, with a friendly match between the local selection and professional players, which resulted in a no hit, no run against the selection. “It was a bit dramatic for us, but we learned a lot from this experience. Next time we will not allow them to beat us like that”, assured the young players.
Afterwards, there was a ‘meet & greet’ between the players and the public. The little ones stood patiently in line with their parents to get an autograph of their favorite player on the many caps, T-shirts and balls that were purchased. Even Andruw Jones was present. “I’m here for the kids,” he explained. “It’s a pleasure to give back to the ones who really love the game.”
It was evident how much the children truly enjoyed their encounter with the players. “I want to ask Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius how they arrived in the Major Leagues,” said a boy. “We have been taught how to run faster, throw stronger and pay more attention to the targets”, they explained.
Notable was the absence of Jair Jurrjens, the ambassador of Blue Bay and one of the initiators of the Baseball Week, which was unable to attend for personal reasons. From the dugout, Blue Bay organizers thanked the players for their contribution and indicated that 52.000 U.S Dollars was collected during the fundraising for the foundation. In January 2016, a report will be released on how the funds were allocated.
During the opening, Curaçao musicians Kris Berry and Jean Jacques Rojer performed an acoustic version of the National Anthem and then Excel Dance Academy gave a colorful show. After the Homerun Derby, there was a fireworks show, after which the band ERA closed the evening.