(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Florida Southern College Athletics, KNHB & ANP Foto)
Former Netherlands Team Manager and Hall of Fame Coach Hal Smeltzly passed away
(1931 - 2018)
(© Photo: FSC Athletics)
LAKELAND, Florida (USA) -
Former Netherlands National Baseball Team Manager Hal Smeltzly has passed away this year on Friday, June 15 at the age of 86 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis.
The American coach led the Netherlands Team in 1967 and 1971 and also served as advisor of the then Royal Netherlands Baseball Federation (KNHB).
After his long career, he was elected into six Halls of Fame.
Harold Meloy Smeltzly was born on October 24, 1931 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
For nearly 50 years, Smeltzly was associated with Florida Southern College, where he was coach of the baseball-team and Athletic Director.
Lois Webb, who succeeded Hal Smeltzly as Athletic Director in 2000, said in local newspaper The Ledger:
,,He has a great legacy and I don’t think it will be repeated by anyone.
He set the bar very high and those of us who have followed him have just tried to reach that bar, maybe go a little further, because that’s what he would expect.
He would expect us to go as far as possible''.
Hal Smeltzly came to Florida Southern College in 1950 to play baseball and basketball.
In 1953, Smeltzly signed a professional contract, but later that year, he also was drafted into the Army.
He played in the Minor League in 1953 and 1955 in teams that were not affiliated with a Major League-organization.
In both years, he played as a first baseman/outfielder in the Florida State League, which back then was a so-called D-level league.
In 1953, Smeltzly played in 78 games for the combined team of Palatka Azaleas/Lakeland Pilots, hitting .264 with five homeruns.
In 1955, he played in 68 games for Lakeland Pilots.
In 1957, Smeltzly became the new Head Coach of the Moccasins, the baseball-team of Florida Southern.
Under his leadership, the team became very successful and went on to win six regional championships, which led to qualification for the Division II College World Series.
The Moccasins won the World Series three times (1971, 1972, 1975).
With Smeltzly as Head Coach, the team won 391 games and lost 166.
Smeltzly was named National Coach of the Year in 1972.
In the same period, Hal Smeltzly was the Manager of the Netherlands National Baseball Team.
He first traveled to the Netherlands in August 1966 for an one-year stay.
In those years, mostly in the month of August, several American coaches succeeded each other to lead the National Team and fulfil an advisory role for the Dutch Federation.
They then stayed in the country for one year (with their wife and children) to conduct clinics for clubs, practice with the players and participate in event with the National Team.
In 1966, Smeltzly succeeded Howard Fetz, was had led the Netherlands Team in the previous twelve months.
In 1967, Smeltzly was the Manager of the Netherlands Team during a series of four games against Italy with Charles Urbanus Sr. being his assistant.
The first of these games was played in Italian capital Rome, then two followed in Haarlem and the fourth was played in Rotterdam.
After losing the first game, the Netherlands Team won the next three, including a big 19-1 win in the third game in Haarlem.
During his stay in the Netherlands, Smeltzly left a great impression with players and officials.
Not only because of his enormous knowledge of baseball, but also the way he interacted with everyone.
He showed he was really interested in the development of baseball in the Netherlands and also support the development of coaches.
...Hal Smeltzly, his wife Sylvia and their daughters Debra, Lora and...|
...Sara are welcomed by Everdingh van Steeden (right), President of...
...the Royal Netherlands Baseball Federation after arriving at...
...Schiphol International Airport near Amsterdam in August 1966...
(© Photo: KNHB)
Earlier in the year, the Dutch Federation decided that American coaches would only have an advisory role.
Instead of also being a Head Coach with an Assistant Coach, an American coach now would be the equal of assistant Charles Urbanus and serve in an advisory role as some kind of a Bench Coach.
Smeltzly completely agreed with this and handed over the coaching to Urbanus during the games against Italy, which marked the first time since 1958 that the Netherlands Team was led by a Dutch coach during an event.
After Smeltzly had left, Urbanus also coached the team in the remainder of the year, which included a trip to the Curaçao and Aruba in November.
Urbanus had been the Assistant Coach of the Netherlands Team since 1960 when the first American coach led the team.
After Smeltzly's stay in the Netherlands ended in July 1967, a farewell-reception was organized in Amsterdam at the Head Office of Coca-Cola, which in these years was a major sponsor of the Dutch Federation (and continued to do so for many years).
At the meeting, Hal Smeltzly and his wife Sylvia received a photo-book of the Netherlands, a Delft Blue plate with an inscription and a silver teaspoon.
Besides that, Everdingh van Steeden, President of the Royal Netherlands Baseball Federation, handed Smeltzly the KNHB-decoration.
In January 1968, William Alhouse became the next American coach to lead the Netherlands Team and be an advisor for the Dutch Federation.
Later that year, he was with the team when it participated in the Haarlem Baseball Week, but again, it was Urbanus who served as Head Coach.
Alhouse passed away in 2011 at age 85.
In 1969 and 1970, the Netherlands Baseball Team was solely led by Charles Urbanus Sr..
Under his leadership, the team won the title at the 1969 European Championship in Wiesbaden (West-Germany) and participated in the 1970 World Championship in Colombia.
Thereafter, it was decided to bring in another American coach.
In 1971, Urbanus led the Netherlands B-Team and in May of that year, Hal Smeltzly returned to the Netherlands.
This time, he was with the team between two college-seasons.
Shortly before coming to the Netherlands, Smeltzly had won the College World Series with Florida Southern.
In July, he was the Manager of the Orange team during the Haarlem Baseball Week.
This time, Cees de Bruin was his Assistant Coach.
In the international event, the Orange-squad won only one of its six games.
Besides the Netherlands, other participants that year were three strong teams from the USA, Sullivans, California Stags and Detroit ITM.
The fifth participant was USAFE, a team that was compiled of Americans, who were military personnel stationed in then West-Germany.
After the Baseball Week, Smeltzly returned home to prepare for the new college-season.
In September of that year, the Netherlands participated in the European Championship in Italy.
During that event, the team was led by Bill Arce, who coached the California Stags during the Baseball Week.
The Netherlands went on to win the title.
Bill Arce, who had a long association with Dutch baseball, passed away in 2016 at age 90.
Amongst the players who played for the Netherlands Team when Hal Smeltzly was the Manager in both 1967 and 1971 were Herman Beidschat, Ben de Brouwer, Wim Crouwel, Roy van den Dungen Gronovius, Boudewijn Maat and Hamilton Richardson.
Also playing in the team in 1967 were Simon Arrindell, Rob Hoffmann and Hudson John.
Amongst the players that also participated in the Baseball Week in 1971 were Hans Augustinus, Jan Dick Leurs and Robert Maat .
...Hal Smeltzly and his wife Sylvia at the farewell-reception in July 1967...|
...in Amsterdam after their one-year stay in the Netherlands ended...
...Everdingh van Steeden (left), President of the Royal Netherlands...
...Baseball Federation handed out some gifts and also handed Smeltzly...
...the Federation's decoration for his work in the previous months...
(© Photo: ANP Foto (1967) / Peter van Zoest)
Hal Smeltzly stepped down as Head Coach of Florida Southern in 1976 after having coached the team for 20 years (1957-1976) to become the Athletic Director of the school fulltime in 1978.
He already was named Athletics Director in 1972.
Smeltzly oversaw and led the sports program of Florida Southern for 28 years and retired in 2000.
In that period, the school won 22 national titles in four sports.
At Florida Southern, Smeltzly also was instrumental in the addition of women's athletics to the college in 1976.
Hal Smeltzly was a member of the coaching-staff of the USA National Baseball Team in 1970.
He then was the National Team's Manager in 1972 and 1975.
Under his leadership, the USA won the silver medal at the 1972 World Championship in Managua (Nicaragua).
When he led the team again three years later, Team USA also win silver at the Pan American Games in Mexico City (Mexico).
During the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles (USA), Smeltzly was a Technical Delegate for the baseball-tournament.
Smeltzly also served as a member of the NCAA Division II Rules Committee for nearly two decades.
Since 1978, USA Baseball is the national governing body for amateur baseball in the United States of America.
Back then, USA Baseball was started by a group of college-coaches including Hal Smeltzly, Ron Fraser, Jack Stallings, Rod Dedeaux and Dutch Fehring.
Fraser was the first American coach to lead the Netherlands Baseball Team in 1960-1962.
He then returned in 1972 and 1973.
Fraser passed away in January, 2013 at age 79.
As last member of this group, Stallings passed away five days after Smeltzly on June 20, at age 87.
Dedeaux and Fehring both passed away in 2006.
In a statement, Mike Gaski, President of USA Baseball, said:
,,Coach Smeltzly was one of the handful of legendary college coaches who assembled and managed our first collection of collegiate national teams for the United States in international competitions.
He carried his passion and commitment to the growth of the game as a top consultant to the leadership of the fledgling International Baseball Federation and helped Dr. Robert Smith bring the sport of baseball into the Olympic Program.
His brilliance as a coach, and then as an administrator, also built a college baseball dynasty at Florida Southern College over four decades.
He was a fierce competitor and a humble, self-deprecating gentleman who spent his life helping young men and women at Florida Southern College become compassionate leaders both in sport and in life''.
Hal Smeltzly was elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1980.
In following years, he also was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame (1987), the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame (1992) and the Florida Southern College Baseball Hall of Fame (1992).
In 2000, Hal Smeltzly was a member of the inaugural class to be inducted into the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame and in 2002, he also was elected into the Florida Southern College Athletics Hall of Fame.
His uniform number 7 is one of eight that was retired at Florida Southern College.
In 1999, the school named its annual Award for Outstanding Male and Female Athletes after Hal Smeltzly.
Hall of Famer, former coach Ron Fraser passed away. (January 23, 2013)
Legendary Coach and Ambassador Bill Arce passed away. (March 8, 2016)