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Updated: April 24, 2012
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Copyright © 1997-2012
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2012 by Marco Stoovelaar

Former international Fokke Jelsma passed away


...Fokke Jelsma...
(1943 - 2012)

SCHARSTERBRUG (Neth.) - Former national team and big player Fokke Jelsma passed away on Tuesday, April 24 at the age of 68 due to Alzheimer's disease. The memorial service takes place next Saturday, April 28 at 10:30 AM in Hotel Restaurant 'De Oosprong' at Huisterheide 7 in Sint Nicolaasga, which is in the province of Friesland, where Fokke also passed away in the nearby village of Scharsterbrug (Skarsterbrêge). After conclusion of the memorial service there is time to offer condolences to the family, followed by a lunch. A private cremation service then will follow.

Fokke Evert Jelsma was born on December 23, 1943 in The Hague, where he became a physical education teacher after completing school. At age 11, he began to play soccer for local club VCS, then started playing baseball when he was 16 in youth-teams of Storks. Three years later (1962), Jelsma makes his debut in the main squad of Storks, which then plays in the First Division, the second highest league.

...Fokke as player of Storks...
1962 is also the year in which Fokke Jelsma is invited to participate in practices of the Dutch National Youth Team ('Jong Oranje'). The always passionate Jelsma decides to stop with soccer and focus entirely on baseball. His knowledge and interests of the sport combined with his teaching abilities lead to him being named an assistant coach of then National Team Head Coach Charles Urbanus Sr. when he was only 20 years old. And so, since 1964, he belongs to the staff that organizes the annual youth trainingcamps in Eindhoven, which are being held for several years. For more than 10 years he is a youth-coach for the Dutch Federation.

In his first season with Storks, the team finishes in second place in the First Division, which exists of two separate leagues in those years. In the next years, Storks keeps on finishing in the top of this league. A third place in 1963 and again a second place in 1964 and 1965. In 1966, the team finally captures the champion-title and meets HCAW, the champion of the other First Division-league. Storks is beaten in two games of the best-of-three, meaning HCAW promotes to the big league. But early 1967, the Dutch Association decides to grant Storks also a spot in the big league, when HVA from Amsterdam (which had just merged), asks to play in the First Division. And so, Fokke Jelsma makes his big league-debut in 1967 playing for Storks.

In 1963, Jelsma makes his international debut when he plays with the Dutch Junior Team against Belgium. In 1964, 1965 and 1966 Jelsma is a member of the National B-squad, but on July 17, 1966, he makes his debut in the Dutch National Team, which then plays against Belgium with a split-squad, as another team plays a game at the same time in Amsterdam.

...Fokke in his comeback season... 1974 playing for Nicols...
After making his national team-debut in 1966, he doesn't makes the team for the Haarlem Baseball Week, but a year later he is selected for the team, which then travels to Curaçao and Aruba to play a series of six games there. In 1968 and 1969, Jelsma participated with the National Team in the Haarlem Baseball Week and then wins the European championship title in 1969 when the Dutch win the European Championship in Wiesbaden (Germany). The outfielder travels for the second time to the Netherlands Antilles in November 1970, where the National Team plays a series of exhibition games, as it continues to Colombia to participate in the World Championship there. In the next few years, Jelsma isn't selected for the Orange squad, but makes a comeback in 1975 to participate in the European Championship in Barcelona (Spain). In total, Jelsma appears in 25 official international games for the Dutch squad.

...Fokke during the 1994...
...Senior World Series... Phoenix (USA)...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
After having played in the Dutch big league for three seasons with Storks (1967-1969), Fokke Jelsma transfers to Haarlem Nicols when he moves to live in the city of Krommenie. While living and working there, he notices that there is only one baseball club in the Zaanstreek-area, being Odiz Frogs in Zaandam. Jelsma then again shows his enthusiasm and driveness for the sport of baseball. With his wife Anneke, he explores possibilities to found clubs in the area. Early 1971, he organizes a successful promotional evening in Krommenie, shows a World Series-movie and tells passionately about baseball. At the end of the evening, all 85 visitors become members of a club to be founded in Krommenie, which on April 13, 1971 becomes Cromtigers. Afterwards, Jelsma remains involved with Cromtigers, assisting with practices, but also conducts clinics in other cities around Krommenie.

In the meantime, Jelsma continues playing for Haarlem Nicols, with whom he wins the Dutch championship in 1970, 1975 and 1976 and the European Cup in 1974 and 1975. The righthanded hitting Fokke Jelsma is known for his offensive power and he frequently finishes in the top of the rankings. In 1968, he hits nine homeruns, which gives him second place behind Hamilton Richardson, who hits 11, but Fokke leads the big league with 25 runs batted in. In 1972 and 1973, Fokke Jelsma has some lesser seasons. Later he explains that he was more coaching himself in those years instead of enjoy playing. He changed his approach the next season and became the best hitter of Nicols with a .359 batting average. He wins the homerun-title and is named second Most Valuable Player and his comeback-season also earns him a spot again in the Dutch team a year later. It is also in these years, that Fokke becomes a father. His son Wilfred later also becomes an enthusiastic baseball-player himself, reaches the Dutch big league and continues in coaching. After the 1976 season, Fokke Jelsma changes clubs and he plays for Schoten in 1977 in the Dutch big league. In 1978, he concludes his big league-career playing for Kinheim, with whom he wins another championship-title. In 1980, he plays one more season for Cromtigers to end his active playing career at the top level. However, in later years, he kept on playing in veteran teams of Kinheim, with whom he participated in the Senior Baseball World Series in the USA.

In later years, Jelsma turned more to coaching. In October 1976 and January 1977, the Dutch Association of Baseball Coaches organizes several clinics throughout the country and Jelsma belongs to a group of coaches that further includes Cees Herkemij, Hamilton Richardson, Leen Volkerijk, Cees Santifort, Jan Prins and Max Rietbergen. He also becomes an instructor during baseball and softball coach courses for the Dutch Federation. In following years, Fokke Jelsma continues to render his knowledge to other coaches and (youth)players in his passionate and enthusiastic way he was known for.

Through this, the webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News offers his condolences to Fokke's family and friends and wishes them lots of strength.

(April 24)

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