The history of the World Port Tournament Baseball
The genesis of the World Port Tournament begins in 1984, when a committee of baseball enthusiasts is compiled. Following the visit of the Mayors of Havana and Rotterdam (Bram Peper) in the Haarlem Baseball Week, the idea arises to set up a similar tournament in Rotterdam. This can also serve as a “dress rehearsal” for the Baseball World Cup that will take place in the Netherlands in 1986.
Bram Peper told this later on: “When visiting with my colleague Dr. Oscar Ferdinand Mell in the Haarlem Baseball Week, he (one of the ten most powerful men in Cuba and a personal friend of Fidel Castro): If you also a tournament organizes, I’ll send a team from Havana.
“The original idea was to create a tournament where teams from a number of major port cities all over the world would come against each other. Allows the business interests of Rotterdam and its port would indeed best be served.
Ultimately, the initiative resulted in the first World Port Tournament, which was organized in 1985 with Havana, Kobe in Japan, Dallas-USA, Netherlands and Alpha from Curacao as participants. The first board consisted of: Gerard Vaandrager (Chairman), Piet Eenhoorn, Andries Verhoeven, Frans van Aalen, Hamilton Richardson, Gerard Rooijakkers, Hans van der Sluis, Leen Staub and Ria van de Heuvel.
The tournament was immediately a success. As many as 30,000 visitors, many of whom had never attended a baseball game. The aims to establish a business interesting and attractive event to the public also proved to be achieved.
After an equally successful Baseball World Cup in 1986, it was only logical that the tournament would be continued in 1987. With Havana again as a winner and a success on all fronts, there seemed to emerge a new tradition at the Rotterdam sports calendar . The family character of the tournament was at this year an extra charge. For the first time a mascot was used to promote the event, the Miami Maniac joined the Antillean carnival.
In 1989 for the first time there were two American teams. It was the amateur champions of 1987 (the Baltimore Johnny’s) and 1988 (Dallas). It was striking that in those days, the Dutch team was very successful in the tournament. After a marathon in which the Cubans were defeated, the Dutch also defeated our other favorite in the finals, Baltimore.
Much less successful was the next tournament for the Netherlands. The defending champion became in last place, after losing a deciding game against Canada. For the tournament itself had little consequences. The crowd continued to flow unabated and excited about the results.
In 1993 there was a very special team at the start, the MLB All Stars, with a large number of good players from the biggest Baseball League in the world. Notable was the presence of Bert Blijleven, the Dutchman who played for the Minnesota Twins. Not surprisingly, this team was going to win the tournament.
In the 1995 edition the arrival of a strong MLB team was not feasible. However, the Cubans came with a stronger team, which became the expected winner of the tournament. Netherlands appeared to have smashed the way up and managed to get a blistering finale.
1997 was an important year for the WPT. The Cuban delegation showed that the tournament internationally seriously counted. Instead of a team from the city of Havana, the national senior squad was delegated, who then with ease hit all opponents of the field. The largely waterlogged tournament awarded by the weather admittedly less spectators than usual, it was decided that the property was to be renewed. With the support of the Rotterdam Baseball plans for a whole new baseball stadium were put into motion.
The opening of the World Port Tournament 1999 was marked by the opening of the new stadium. The first ball was brought in from a ribbon of people from Rotterdam City Hall to the stadium, where founder Bram Peper threw out the first ball. The new stadium was a big motivation for the Dutch team. In the final, the Dutch team managed to defeat Cuba by a 3-2 victory in a deciding game of seven innings.
In the years 2001 and 2003, the finalists were flat, but the Dutch were not always able to grab the title. In the field of participants a change of quality was noticeable. Meanwhile there were, beside the American contestant, only big admired country teams, who also became every Tournament of an higher level. The public saw better baseball and the Dutch baseball appeared to get stronger because of the World Port Tournament.
After an absence of four years, because of the organization of the Baseball World Cup in 2005, the World Port Tournament in 2007 successfully returned. The 11th edition of the tournament knew the strongest field of participants ever. For the first time in history, played the USA Baseball National Team in Rotterdam, which with Japan, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Netherlands and that was the absolute world to admire in the World Port Tournament.
In 2009, the World Port Tournament was played by 4 teams, namely Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. Team USA was failing at the last minute. This program was converted into races where each team met each other twice. Two of the best pitchers in the league, which just ended, were only necessary to deliver the prize to Cuba in the twelfth World Port Tournament.