In 2019 "Playball" Europe exist already 25 years as leading Baseball Academy in Europe.
Instead of flying to Florida, it is now possible to take the bus or train to visit a baseball academy with professional coaches. By bringing Major and Minor instructors to Europe the American dream will be reality. "Playball" Europe organizes clinics in several European countries and a International Baseball Academy. The founder of "Playball'' Europe is Karel 'Charly' Crouwel.
Karel started playing baseball (catcher) in Amsterdam with the Cats (OVVO) when he was 9 years old. When he was 16 years old he was selected for the Dutch National Team.
He also played for the Haarlem Nicols and his last team was Kinheim also in Haarlem. He finished his career as Manager/Coach and won the National Championship with the Kinheim team in 1978.
In 1977 Karel and Rob Muller (one of the first sponsors in Dutch baseball) invited Hank Aaron to Holland. In a 4 days tour Karel showed Hank the tourist places (pictures in Old Dutch National dress), planned a big press conference and the last night of his stay we organized a homerun contest and game in a fully packed Haarlem stadium. Hank acted 4 innings as guest player in the Dutch National Team against a team of American players who played in the Dutch competition.
Karel also worked 10 years with the Dutch National Ice Hockey Team. Highlights were; become World Champion in the final game against former East Germany in 1979, Olympic Winter Games Lake Placid 1980 and playing the “A” Poule in Sweden 1981.
In his busy sports career Karel also worked 3 years as manager/trainer for a top division (Kinzo) basketball team.
So, it was just 1 step to go and Karel started his dream "Playball" Europe in 1995. The first Playball clinic was held from Friday September 29th to Monday October 2nd in Amsterdam.
"Playball" To Day
Markus Torenstra (responsible for the field program) started in 1997 as trainee and in 2000 he joins the "Playball" Europe staff till 2011. Together with Chicho Jesurun (MLB Scout), Raban Schalm (2001-2011 Chief Pitcher Instructor responsable for the "Playball" Winter Academy), Sape Wagenaar (2003-present Chief Catcher Instructor/advisor) and all other USA and Dutch "Playball" Instructors who join "Playball" for many years like the today’s Head Coaches Nick Urbanus and Roeli Henrique, broth "Playball" Summer Academy, as it is today.
"Playball" and MLB
"Playball" Europe haze associations with a few MLB organizations in the USA. Every year professional Instructors from the Dutch Major League, Dutch National Team and players/Instructors from abroad will visit the "Playball" Academy in Europe. In the past, some players who join the "Playball" Europe Academy, signed a professional contract for playing in one of the Major League organizations. One of the first Instructors who visit "Playball" Europe was Randy Kierce, 1996 and 1997. Randy worked before as scout for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He was the Instructor, Rick van de Hurk said in an interview, "who advised me to change position from catcher in to be Pitcher". And that was for Rick (MLB Pitcher) the best advice ever.