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Updated: February 9, 2020
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Henri van Heijningen named European Umpire of the Year 2019

VILNIUS (Litouwen) - Henri van Heijningen, who is now a former umpire, has been honored by the European Baseball Confederation (CEB). During the Congress of the CEB in Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Van Heijningen was named Umpire of the Year for 2019 on Saturday (February 8). KNBSB-Chairman Mark Herbold received the Award on behalf of Van Heijningen.

...Henri van Heijningen...
...CEB Umpire of the Year...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
It is the second time that a Dutch umpire wins the CEB Umpire of the Year Award. In 2008, Fred van Groningen Schinkel was the first, as he then was named Umpire of the Year for 2007.

Through the years, four official scorers from the Netherlands have won the Scorer of the Year Award: Linda Steijger (2010), Dennis Duin (2013), Feiko Drost (2016) and Huub Nelissen (2019). There also have been four winners of the Coach of the Year Award: Robert Eenhoorn (2008), Brian Farley (2012), Evert-Jan 't Hoen (2016) and Steve Janssen (2017). The Award for Outstanding Service to European Baseball was handed out twice to a representative of the Netherlands. In 2011 (posthumously) to Rinus Paardekooper and in 2016 to Johan Brandsma. In 2018, the Xavier Mateu Award for Excellence was handed out to Jan Esselman. In 2012, the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB) won the Award for Federation of the Year. All mentioned years are the years in which the Awards were handed out during a Congress (which are mostly held in February), but are related to (accomplishments in) the previous year.

On September 1 of last year, Henri van Heijningen officiated in his final game in the highest Dutch league. On that day, he was the Home Plate Umpire in Game 7 of the exciting Holland Series. In Rotterdam, L&D Amsterdam Pirates shutout Curaçao Neptunus 6-0 to win the Series and be crowned Dutch champion. With the win, Pirates completed an astonishing comeback. After having lost the first three games, Pirates won the next four to become the first team in history to accomplish this feat. For Van Heijningen, it was his sixth game in that Holland Series to set a record for an umpire.

Last years regular season ended earlier due to the participation of the Netherlands National Team in the European Championship in Germany and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Italy in September. The season ended on July 28 and then was followed by the Play-Offs and Holland Series.

On July 28, Henri van Heijningen officiated in his 40th (and final) regular season-game in the big league last year, the second time in his long career that he reached that total in the highest division. Since 2000, there have been only four umpires, who accomplished the feat ten times. The umpires that officiated in 40 or more regular season-games since 2000 are Henk Meerleveld (43 in 2002, 40 in 2001, 40 in 2005, 40 in 2006), Olav Steijger (40 in 2003), Fred van Groningen Schinkel (40 in 2010, 43 in 2012, 41 in 2013) and Henri van Heijningen (40 in 2012, 40 in 2019).

A month earlier, Van Heijningen moved into second place on the all-time games list for big league-umpires, passing Henk Meerleveld (746 games). A week later, he became the second umpire in history to reach the 750 games. The list is headed by Fred van Groningen Schinkel, who officiated in 1,257 games.

After conclusion of the Holland Series, Henri van Heijningen concluded his umpiring career, retiring after 29 seasons in the Dutch big league. Van Heijningen already had announced his decision to retire a year earlier.

Henri van Heijningen has been an international umpire for more than 20 years. In that span, he was assigned to numerous international events. Amongst these tournaments are three World Championships, three European Championships and one Intercontinental Cup. Van Heijningen also officiated in 18 European Cup-tournaments, which were either European Cup, Cup Winners Cup, CEB Cup, Super Cup, Qualifiers or Play-Offs. In the Netherlands, he was an umpire in eight Haarlem Baseball Weeks, eight World Port Tourmament and four All Star Games.

(February 9)

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