This year, in 2024, Playball Europe will celebrate its 30th anniversary as a now well-known baseball academy in Europe.

30stpba ball logoInstead of flying to Florida, you can now travel by bus, train, or a short European flight to visit a baseball school. With professional instructors, Playball Europe makes the American dream a reality. Playball Europe organizes clinics in various European countries and has the International Baseball Academy as its permanent base in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The founder of Playball Europe is Karel "Charly" Crouwel.

karel crouwel nl team prins claus 1966 pim mullier stadionKarel started playing baseball at the age of 9 as a catcher in Amsterdam with the Cats (OVVO). At the age of 15, he played in the Dutch Top Division and was selected for the Dutch National Team at the age of 16. He also played for the Haarlem Nicols, and his final team was Kinheim, also based in Haarlem. Karel ended his playing career as a manager/coach and won the National Championship with the Kinheim team in 1978.

In 1977, Karel and Rob Muller, one of the first sponsors (Aktie '68 / employment agency) of Dutch baseball, invited Hank Aaron (755 Home Runs) to come to the Netherlands.
See Hank Aaron Goes Dutch.

dutch olympic team 1980 lake placidFrom 1971 to 1981, Karel worked as a physical trainer with the Dutch National Ice Hockey Team.

Some highlights of his ice hockey period were winning the World Championship in the final against former East Germany in 1979, participating in the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid in 1980, and playing in the "A" Pool in Sweden in 1981. 

After this period, Karel was 3 years manager and trainer of the top division basketball team KINZO and winning the Dutch championship twice.kinzo basketbal

With all these experiences, it was only one step for Karel to realize his dream of starting Playball Europe: a baseball Academy with a vision - YOUTH... being trained by instructors with experience in MLB, USA university, the Dutch National Team and the Dutch Major League. They are selected based on the position of the registered participants. Instructors who can provide the best guidance to the participants from their own experience. The first Playball Academy was organized in September 1995 in Amsterdam.


EPSON MFP image One of the first instructors was Chicho Jesurun (†), MLB scout for the Montreal Expos and Miami Marlins.
Playball Europe has built ties with various MLB organizations in the US. In the past, some players have signed professional contracts with Major League organizations. Players like Vince Rooi and Roger Bernadina / photo (both Montreal Expos).
One of the first MLB instructors to visit Playball Europe was Randy Kierce in 1996 and 1997. Randy had previously worked as a scout for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He was the instructor who advised Rick van de Hurk, later an MLB pitcher, to switch from catcher to pitcher - advice that Rick considered the best he ever received (said Rick).


It was almost there... Two MLB games in Amsterdam, March 2007. In 2005, meetings began with the CEO of the ARENA Stadium, Henk Markerink, and (ideamlb amsterdam team from) Jan Tilmans, Frans Bolk, and Karel Crouwel. Several telephone calls took place with MLB board members James Pierce and Paul Archey. An inspection of the ARENA was carried out by Murray Cook (MLB field & stadium advisor), followed by a meeting at Amsterdam Airport with MLB VP Jim Small. All parties were positive, and an agreement with the ARENA with Playball Europe as Promoter was 100%, with support from City of Amsterdam confirmed. There was even a draft contract with MLB ready, until... a dispute arose between MLB and the players' union, which lasted almost two years. Then MLB decided to start with the World Baseball Classic..., and the deal was over.


PBA Africa InstructorsIn 2018, one of the participants (Kofie Frimpong / Ghana) asked MLB NY about an Academy in Europe, they referred him to Playball Europe, and we are quite proud of that. Kofie is very committed to the Playball concept and has developed enormously in recent years through... to visit clinics in the USA and Japan. This has resulted in the Playball Africa Academy being established in 2023 with Ghana as its home base.

Throughout the 30 years of Playball Europe's existence, numerous foreign and Dutch instructorsknbsb leen volkenrijk award 2019 and players have participated and contributed to its success. It is now recognized internationally as a highly reputable Baseball Academy in Europe. For this, Playball Europe received the Leen Volkerijk Award from the KNBSB in 2019.


Playball was and still is my dream.
Thank you Instuctors and Pirates staff for your support in this journey
Thank you Annemieke for your patience

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