With the Baseball Week coming up we look at “Let’s catch up with…”: a weekly article where we catch up with (old) baseball players, referees, volunteers and supporters and rake up some memories.
Johnny Balentina:Catcher and outfielder played for decades for several big league clubs and the Dutch team.
The most beautiful memory of the Baseball Week:
“Can it be a few memories? In any case, the crowded stadium on Wednesday evenings, the enthusiastic audiences, the music… Songs were made and sung. For me, they had made lyrics to this old song “Oh Johnny”, by Aunt Leen, a Dutch singer from the fifties), and every time I ran onto the field, the audience began to sing “Oh Johnny, hit it hard, just for me / Oh Johnny, because to us you’re the only number twenty-three!” It didn’t fit the rhythm at all, but I got goosebumps every time.
My election to MVP of the 2004 tournament was also very nice, and now that I’m talking about it, I’m really excited to go to the baseball week this summer, who knows… “
Favourite player and coach:
“At that time I looked up to boys like Marcel Joost and Robert Eenhoorn, and now I am a big fan of Didi Gregorius, I have had a lot of coaches in my career and, naturally, you learn something from every one of them. I had Charles Urbanus who gave me a lot of opportunities in my early days, David Daniels, we called him Double D, showed me baseball in a different way and saw a leader in me. He encouraged me to take on that role. Finally, Robert Eenhoorn, who just came back from the Major League and had seen and done the real big job, he had a lot of confidence in me and that was very important to me.”
Do you still do something in baseball?
“Absolutely! I’m never doing nothing in that area, haha! I live in Curaçao and I am the manager of the Wildcats, champion of Curaçao, and former Major Leaguer Yurendell de Caster has just signed up with us. I also give training to the youth and organize baseball camps, and I still play fanatically in a veteran team, because yes, once a baseball player, always a baseball player. “