Global Baseball Games: Three-time Olympian Evert Jan ‘t Hoen will serve as infield coach on Team Europe's staff

Global Baseball Games: Three-time Olympian Evert Jan ‘t Hoen will serve as infield coach on Team Europe's staff
The Dutch National Team manager has experience in international baseball at the highest levels as a player. "It's an honour to be part of Team Europe."

Evert Jan ‘t Hoen has represented the Netherlands in three Olympics (1996, 2000 and 2004), one World Baseball Classic (2006) and three Baseball World Cups (1998, 2001 and 2005). He has been part of four Dutch European Champion teams: 1995, 2003, 1999 and 2005.

He has experienced international baseball in the amateur and the professional era. The WBSC caught up with him to look ahead to the exciting Global Baseball Games series between Samurai Japan and Team Europe, which will take place on 6 & 7 March in Osaka, Japan, and where 't Hoen will feature as infield coach on Team Europe's staff.

"I was still very young," he told the WBSC when asked about his Olympic experience. "When I participated in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. I remember it as a great experience. Only amateur players participated in those Games. In 2000, I was already playing professional baseball, but I noticed the level of play dramatically improved. Professionals in international baseball have only been good for the game."

His career as a baseball player began in the United States. Born in 1975 in Alphen aan den Rijn, west of The Netherlands, he was drafted out of Indian River Community College by the California Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1995. A middle infielder who also played third base and the outfield, he played 485 Minor League games in the Angels organization through the 2001 season, including 66 at the AAA level. He retired as a player after the 2007 season.

After working as a scout for MLB's Cincinnati Reds, his coaching career developed in Europe, and he experienced the National Team level in 2017 when he was an assistant coach for Eric De Bruin during the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. He has managed the Dutch National Team since 2018.

‘t Hoen will serve as the infield coach under manager Marco Mazzieri on Team Europe's coaching staff.

"It's an honour to be part of Team Europe. I'm looking forward to working with different coaches and new players. As a staff member, you want to prepare the players as much as possible, but in this event, they will have to do a lot alone. In Japan, we will have only a few days to prepare."

What do you think the Global Baseball Games will mean to players?

"It will be a great experience for them. Playing in a big stadium's atmosphere against such good competition is something many of our players don't experience too often. Of course, we will have players with pro experience on the roster. But this opportunity will also help these players become better baseball players."

Japanese teams always represent a challenge. There are no friendly matches for them; they always play at their best.

"As everybody should! Japanese players practice a lot, and I'm positive they will be prepared to play to win. We are not travelling to Japan to visit. We will also compete to win."

How do you value the level of European baseball at this moment?

"At times, I've felt the level was getting better. In the Netherlands, some players sign professional contracts every year. What happens is they do not reach the top level. It's been a while since we had a player developed in the Netherlands, not counting the [Caribbean] islands, has reached the MLB level."

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Spain won an unprecedented European Championship final against Great Britain in 2023.

"You can tell more countries are getting better. Italy and the Netherlands haven't played a final in 10 years. After 2014, something happened."

"Last year we finished third," he added, "Germany placed fourth, Czechia have improved their overall level and also had successful minor league players. I think this is good for European baseball."

The Netherlands will be the only European country in the Premier12 later this year.

"The tournament is going to be different from the 2019 edition. Each team will compete in five games in the opening round this time. Whatever the format, it will be a battle when the top 12 teams face each other. All teams can win or lose against each other. No country will have easy games, and everybody wants to travel to Japan for the final round. So do the Netherlands."