But how did his visit to the Netherlands become reality…?

Much has been posted about the passing of Hank Aaron, and rightfully so.
He was an idol for many, and for Dutch fans, it was a special experience to have such an icon visit the Netherlands.
Also, a video, made upon our request, has been widely viewed.
(the video incorrectly named the year 1974 - this should be 1977).

It all started on a Sunday morning in February 1977. We gathered after the winter morning training at 11 AM. Rob Muller, the manager (formerly sponsored by AKTIE 68), and myself, then Coach of the Kinheim Baseball Team (Haarlem NL), were meeting to discuss the ongoing affairs of the first team.

We were considering scouting an American player and brainstorming ideas for a festive season opener. The best ideas were suggested (and yes, there were snacks and “a few” drinks involved). However, inviting an MLB player was not an option due to Spring Training in the US.

As a joke, we mentioned Hank Aaron's name since he had already retired. And after a few more "snacks and “a few” more drinks," we became increasingly enthusiastic. To make this idea more concrete, we called a contact at NOS (a national live radio sports program) to see if there was support for this to be done on a grand scale a few months later.

This was understood differently by NOS, perhaps due to our enthusiasm (and "drinks"), as we were called at 2:30 PM the same Sunday afternoon.
We thought it would be an informal conversation, but later found out, unbeknownst to us, that we were live on air. The announcement was: "HANK AARON IS COMING TO THE NETHERLANDS". The phones were ringing off the hook (there was no social media then), as the baseball community in the Netherlands became very excited, and now whole Holland knew that Hank Aaron was coming to the Netherlands, except... Hank Aaron.

Three days later, after many phone calls, we managed to confirm through his management: HANK AARON IS COMING TO THE NETHERLANDS.

On Sunday morning, June 26, 1977, he landed with his wife at Schiphol Airport, and we drove to the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam for an initial meeting. In the afternoon, he attended a home game of HCAW (Dutch team top division), where NOS TV had a broadcast, and in the evening, there was a private dinner at the Hilton Amsterdam, where we had a suite reserved, and we discussed the week's program.

Family Aaron and Crouwel Old Dutch Dress 1977On Monday, we took a tourist tour to Marken and Volendam (Of course a photo in traditional Dutch clothing and wooden shoes). There were incredible reactions from American tourists, and in the evening, there was a planned press conference attended by the Dutch sports press.

On Tuesday, we went for a traditional canal tour in Amsterdam and a visit to Gassan Diamonds. In the evening, Hank attended the Kinheim training for a BP (batting practice) with the Kinheim first team, and we ended downtown Amsterdam.

On Wednesday, a late breakfast and in the afternoon, we visited a specially organized youth baseball event in Amsterdam and paid a visit to the well-known 'sports' café La Bastille.
And then... on Wednesday evening, in a fully packed stadium with Dixieland band in the stands, THE HOMERUN DERBY (featuring among others, HamiltonEPSON MFP image Richardson, Hudson John, and King Zsuschen), followed by a brass band on the field and a game with Hank that all attendees still remember to this day.

The gates opened at 6 PM, but at 4 PM, there were already a few thousand visitors waiting. Hank was driven to the stadium with a police escort with sirens blaring (we had arranged a helicopter, but it couldn't land due to the floodlights). After the game, we had a private chat as the next day I took him to Schiphol Airport for a 3-day visit to London (Paris was canceled).

Before his departure, we had him sign a box of balls (we could have brought 20 boxes considering the numerous requests). The Legend left the Airport! Three days later, on Sunday, he departed from London to Atlanta, USA. Hank Aaron... an experience that will remain vivid in our memories for years to come. And an experience that many, as evidenced after his passing, still look back on with warm feelings.

 hank aaron rob muller

Unfortunately, in 2017, we also had to say goodbye to Rob Muller. He too was special, as a lover of the game and one of the first major sponsors who helped boost baseball in the Netherlands.

see more pics > more pics to see    or check the papers > PRESS


 With great memories of Rob and Tinie

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