VELDHOVEN – Since 2010, Veldhoven native, Rick Van den Hurk has brought over 13 Major League Baseball stars to Europe to participate in the European Big League Tour (EBLT). In conjunction with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, Van den Hurk and these MLB stars have provided free baseball clinics to youth players. The purpose of the tour is to promote baseball in Europe and to support the return of baseball to the Olympic Games. The main goal is to let kids live out their dreams by meeting and practicing with the MLB stars. This year Van den Hurk is unable to organize the tour because of his post-season commitment to the Samsung Lions of the South Korean Baseball League. The fifth edition of the EBLT is being postponed until 2015.
The EBLT has given over 3,500 kids in The Netherlands, England, Czech Republique, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium and France the opportunity to learn from current world stars like Prince Fielder (Texas Rangers), Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins), Curtis Granderson (New York Mets), Jeremy Guthrie (Kansas City Royals) and Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles). Former stars including Bobby Bonilla and Brady Anderson also participated. During the clinics the kids were taught specific skills such as pitching, catching, fielding and batting. They also got the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with the players.
“I am happy and proud that we were able to organize a spectacular baseball event over the past four years with my American baseball colleagues and the Dutch internationals with the support of all partners, sponsors and volunteers. I would like to thank all the kids who have participated for their enthusiasm and effort during the clinics. If you keep dreaming big and practice hard, you can achieve anything you want,” said Van den Hurk. He indicated that the ELBT organization is exploring other options to promote baseball in Europe. All partners, including Rotterdam Topsport, MLB International and MLB Players Association have been informed of the decision to postpone the fifth edition of the EBLT.
The professional baseball player from Veldhoven is currently having a great season with the Samsung Lions in South Korea. The Samsung Lions are battling to win the regular season and the Korean Series again this year. Van den Hurk and the Samsung Lions won the Korean Series last year.