Translation error set back Dutch baseball a few decades
For almost half a century the Dutch were pitching baseballs incorrectly due to a translation error of the rules from American English into Dutch. Adults were pitching as soft as small boys and that was not to their advantage.
A Dutch book entitled ‘Sportlegendes’ (‘Sport legends’) has a chapter on baseball player Han Urbanus from Amsterdam who travelled to play with the New York Giants in 1952, the first European to do so, although he only trained with them.
The Americans watched Urbanus throw and didn’t understand what he was doing. The strictly interpreted Dutch rules Urbanus played by said that the pitcher ‘needs to keep contact with the rubber on the mound and may not lift their support leg until the ball is thrown’. Lifting a foot while pitching comes naturally, which normal in the US, but not in the Netherlands, and meant a ball speed loss of some 40 km/h.
Back then there was no real way of knowing this besides reading the rules or seeing it live and maybe catch some TV in the US and Canada. Urbanus had to learn how to throw all over again, although he said that after two weeks, he had it figured out. The Giants gave him some rolls of films to show his team back home how the game was played.
Tomorrow the Dutch will be playing in the 2014 European Baseball Championship held in the Czech Republic and are a big favourite to win. They were last tournament’s winner as well as having won the World Cup back in 2011.