23/02/2024 2 Minute Read

Baseball World Cup winner Sharlon Schoop shares fond international career memories ahead of Global Baseball Games

The Dutch veteran started the 2011 Baseball World Cup final against Cuba at second base, with his younger brother Jonathan, a future MLB All-Star, at third. "International baseball is different. You play with guys you grew up with. It is still baseball, but the chemistry is different. You play with your heart."

Sharlon Schoop started the 2011 Baseball World Cup final Netherlands-Cuba at second base. He bunted Curt Smith to third in the bottom of the fourth, with the game tied at one.

Smith would score the winning run on a base hit up the middle by Jonathan, Schoop's brother and a future Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star.

At the time, Sharlon was 24 and had finished a season at the Double-A level for the San Francisco Giants. He would elect free agency on 2 November.

Jonathan was 20 and regarded as a top Baltimore Orioles prospect. He caught a line drive by pinch hitter Olivera to end the game with the tying run in scoring position. The Netherlands became the first country outside the Americas and Asia to win the Baseball World Cup.

"Winning such a big tournament while you represent your country is something special," Sharlon told the WBSC. "It's a dream come true. Seeing your younger brother catching the ball for the final out makes it unforgettable."

It was 15 October 2011, a very wet day in Panama City.

"We were delayed at least three hours. We had to sit and wait for a long time. I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was so big for us and will never go away. It's something you want to tell your children."

Schoop is one of seven players representing the Netherlands on Team Europe's roster for the Global Baseball Games, the CARNEXT SAMURAI JAPAN SERIES, scheduled for 6 and 7 March in Osaka, Japan. The other six are pitchers Tom De Blok, Lars Huijer, Kevin Kelly and Franklin Van Gurp; infielder Juremi Profar and utility Delano Selassa. The Netherlands had 14 players, including seven pitchers, on the 2015 Team Europe roster.

As the world No. 7 programme, the Netherlands will participate in the III WBSC Premier12, presented by RAXUS. Schoop has represented his country in the first two editions of the WBSC flagship event.

"International baseball is different. I'm a professional, but in international baseball, you play with guys you grew up with. It is still baseball, but the chemistry is different. You play with your heart."

Schoop is a veteran of 942 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) games, including 154 at the Triple-A level. Most recently, he appeared in the new-born Venezuelan Summer League. He has also played four seasons in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.

"In professional baseball, you will find more consistency and pitchers who can throw harder. Still, baseball is baseball everywhere in the world."

In November 2016, Schoop was on the Dutch National Team facing Samurai Japan in a pair of friendlies.

"I remember Shohei Ohtani was on that team. Japan plays fundamental baseball, and they are very good at it. We played hard and had a chance to win both games. We took leads late in the games, but they managed to come back and beat us."

Japan won both games in 10 innings, 9-8 and 12-10. Future WBSC Premier12 MVP Seiya Suzuki walked off the second with a grand slam.

Schoop said when facing Japan, you have to come to terms with the short ball, the sacrifice bunt and the hit-and-run.

"I'm the type of player who believes in this brand of baseball. In the US, you rarely see this when you play in the regular season. But in a short series, it's different. You need to win that game. You don't have 80 more games to play. To me, the bunt, the hit and run, and moving runners work really well."

How do you think you can help Team Europe? You have played in all positions except catcher during your career.

"I can play everywhere. My favourite position would be second base, but I will do whatever the manager needs."

Many players on your roster haven't appeared in games for months. Do you think this will be a problem?

"As a baseball player, you need to be ready. Sometimes, you haven't seen live pitching for a while when you come up. You need to go out there and do your best. We have experience with that. We will be fine."