The ABC’s of Curaçao
Baseball is big on the island and its unique thumbprint on the game is growing, but to better understand why Curacao baseball is finding more attention, I’ll weave a short history.
Just off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea lies the tropical island paradise of Curacao. Known as the C in the ABC islands that make up the Leeward Antilles, Curacao along with its sister islands Aruba and Bonaire capture the rich history of European colonial influence. But it’s the influence of North America on Curacao that first brought me to its shores.
The nuclear home is the backbone of Curacao society that emphasizes education and sport. And it’s the impact of arguably the most popular sport on the island that brought me to its shores. As I mentioned, baseball is big on Curacao with volcanic dirt infields littered across the island’s 171 square miles. If you want to try to quantify the level of play found in Curacao, consider that in the United States you will find a major league player in one out of every 503,000 people. In the baseball dominant island of neighboring Dominican Republic, that ratio is one in every 125,000, so when you consider that Curacao has an MLB ratio of one in every 21,000 residents, you begin to see why scouts have been flocking to its diamonds since 1989.
I first heard of Curacao from my boss, Fred “The Shark of the Caribbean” Ferreira, current Director of International Recruitment for the Baltimore Orioles. Like Columbus, Fred has been a true baseball conquistador having helped pioneer the Dominican Republic as top international head for the New York Yankees back in the 1980’s. His travels took him to Curacao after hearing about a player named Hensley Meulens, later nicknamed “Bam Bam” for his monstrous home runs that would fly off his bat. He signed Muellens to a Yankee contract in 1989 and thus began a rush to the island in search of baseball gold.
Read the full story, originally published on October 2, 2016, on joelbradley.com.