By NAN Sports Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 26, 2018: The tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao, traditionally known for its Blue liqueur, colorful architecture and year-round sunshine, is making a splash in another arena – Major League Baseball.
Four Curaçaoan players are in this year’s MLB Play-Offs including Yankees’ shortstop Didi Gregorius; Braves’ second baseman Ozzie Albies; Los Angels’ Dodgers’ pitcher Kenley Jansen; and Brewers’ second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Of the four, Jansen has the distinction of being on the Dodgers, which has advanced to the Major League World Series but lost Wednesday night, 4-2, to the Red Sox.
Still the Dodgers could make a comeback tonight, Friday, Oct. 26th, as the 2018 World Series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 with the Dodgers trailing, two games to none.
Each Curacao-born player comes from humble beginnings. Gregorius, Albies, Jansen, and Schoop have made a name for themselves in Major League Baseball and were listed in the starting line-ups for their respective teams.
With only 10 of 32 teams making it the MLB playoffs each year, Curaçao’s presence on four of the remaining teams, is testimony to the high-caliber talent emerging from a Caribbean island of only 172 square miles or a seventh of the size of Rhode Island.
Curacao has evolved as a hub for baseball talent and was named an “Official Destination of Major League Baseball” in July. Minister of Economic Development Dr. Steven Martina, and Curaçao Tourist Board’s Deputy Director Hugo Clarinda, signed a two-year agreement that promotes Curaçao as an ideal destination for emerging players and baseball fans.
Most recently, Hensley Meulens, the manager of the San Francisco Giants and a native Curaçaoan, has been a driving force in petitioning the MLB to implement various programs that develop its youth players.
In February, Curaçao became the seventh country to welcome the MLB’s Elite Program, joining baseball powerhouses Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and South Africa.
The Elite Program is an MLB initiative supported by the Curaçao Tourist Board and the Curaçao Baseball Development Foundation that grooms and prepares 13-18-year-old players to make U.S. high school, college or MLB teams through a series of intensive after-school training camps.
Similarly, Hensley worked to bring the MLB’s R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner cities) program to Curaçao, making it one of a handful of international participants.
The program encourages teens to stay off the streets and educates them about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
Even with more fame and World Series hopes on the horizon, Curaçao’s major league players stay true to their roots, returning to the island every November to mentor young players during Curaçao Baseball Week.