Netherlands will have a 'great team' in Final Olympic Baseball Qualifier, says Randolph Oduber

Netherlands will have a 'great team' in Final Olympic Baseball Qualifier, says Randolph Oduber
26/05/2020
Oduber, a member of the WBSC Athletes Commission, has played for the Dutch National Baseball Team since 2013.

When the Netherlands joins the host Chinese Taipei, Australia, China and the second- and third-place finishers from the WBSC Americas Baseball Qualifier at the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, they definitely won’t be short on confidence, if star player Randolph Oduber is anything to go by.

The former Minor Leaguer told the WBSC: "I won't rate our chances as of right now because no one knows what the circumstances will be. One thing I know for sure is that we will have a great team and are coming to win it all."

The WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, which was scheduled to take place in Taichung and Douliu, TPE, in April, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. New dates for the event, as well as the preceding WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, are still to be announced.

Olympic Honours

But when it does take place, the Netherlands will be looking to maintain its record of never having missed an Olympic baseball tournament since 1992, something Oduber, 31, values greatly.

"It would be an immense accomplishment to make it to the Olympics. As a nation, we have progressed by being able to play in tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic and the WBSC Premier12. The Olympics will only continue this movement. On a personal level, it would be a big achievement for each and every athlete, in their current lives and also their future. The opportunity to say I am an Olympian is respected throughout the world."

The Netherlands is participating in the WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier after being upset by Israel at the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier in September.

"Even though I was injured and had to miss the Qualifier, I supported the team to the best of my abilities," said Oduber. "The qualifier taught us many lessons. It helped the team further strengthen both our teamwork and skills. It will never be fun to lose, but we gained valuable lessons that will be used in preparation for our final qualifier."

Coping with COVID-19

Since the Europe/Africa qualifier, it's been a strange spring for baseball players.

"As soon as information surrounding COVID-19 was being given and experiencing the lockdown that immediately followed, I quickly began rescheduling my training plans in order to stay in shape. In Aruba, we were able to go out for runs, swims, and also workout outdoors, which helped me a lot. I focused on staying mentally strong and positive, seeking to make the best out of the situation.

"My plans [for 2020] are to stay in shape, making sure that when everything re-opens and gets going again, I can be game-ready in no time. I'm still searching for a team this year, so I hope to get that sorted out soon."

New Ideas

Off the field, Oduber is the newest member of the WBSC Athletes Commission and is looking to use his experience and position as a current player to contribute to the growth of baseball around the world.

"I am glad to be part of the Commission," Oduber said. "This has allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the business side of the sport and also bring new ideas to the table."

Oduber added: "Seeing that I am still active, I can quickly assess what the players' needs are or what they are thinking. The ability to bring this knowledge to the board is something great if you really think about it."

Rich History

Born in Paradera, Aruba, on 18 March 1989, Oduber was playing at the Western Oklahoma State College when the San Francisco Giants drafted him in 2009. He didn't come to terms with the Giants, but signed with the Washington Nationals after they drafted him in 2010.

Oduber played a total of 428 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) games for the Washington Nationals through the 2015 season. He then played for Neptunus Rotterdam in the Dutch Hoofdsklasse, for the Lincoln Saltdogs in the independent American Association and for Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League.

He made his international debut for the Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and helped his National Team reach the medal round. He helped the Netherlands win the 2014 and 2016 European Championships. He made the All-World Team of the 2015 WBSC Premier12. He was on the roster of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was limited to just three at-bats during the 2019 European Championship due to injuries.