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Updated: March 4, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story & Photos by Marco Stoovelaar)


...Theo Vleeshhouwer...
(1930 - 2018)
(Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Longtime (international) administrator Theo Vleeshhouwer passed away

PURMEREND (Neth.) - Theo Vleeshhouwer, who served the Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB) for 17 years as the Secretary of the Board, passed away on Friday (March 2) at the age of 87. Theo Vleeshhouwer also had been a member of several committees of the KNBSB. Besides that, he had been a member of the Board of the European Softball Federation (ESF) for fourteen years, including six as its President. He also was the Vice-President for Europe of the International Softball Federation (ISF).

Theo Vleeshhouwer was a multi-functional and well-liked administrator, who also created the Haarlem Softball Week, which he presided in its first five editions. For his many international contributions to the sport of softball, he was was inducted into three Halls of Fame. Mr. Vleeshhouwer also was an Honorary Member of the KNBSB and received a Royal Decoration.

The memorial and cremation-service will be held on Thursday, March 8 at the Crematory Purmerend at the Purmerweg 92 in Purmerend. The service begins at 2:30 PM. Afterwards, it is possible to offer condolences to the family.

With the passing of Theo Vleeshhouwer, the Dutch baseball- and softball-family has to say farewell to another great from its long history in a short period. Last Wednesday, the funeral was held of former Netherlands Softball Team Head Coach Nol Houtkamp, who passed away on February 22 at the age of 89.

Theo Vleeshhouwer was born on July 28, 1930 in Amsterdam. He went on to work as a stenographer for the Amsterdam Municipality Council. In his years, serving in this capacity, but also during his many positions in baseball and softball, Theo Vleeshhouwer showed an eye for detail and was a very accurate administrator. That became clear in the seventeen annual reviews he wrote at the end of the year as Secretary of the KNBSB. These reviews not only were very readible, but contained many information of what had happened in the previous year in Dutch baseball and softball.

In the late fifties, Vleeshhouwer started writing recaps of games in the highest Dutch baseball-league. This led to him becoming an editor of the KNBSB-magazine in those years ('Honkbal-Nieuws') in 1960. He continued writing and edit the magazine threw 1966.

By writing about baseball, it also is no wonder that Theo Vleeshhouwer became a member of the first corps of Official Scorers in 1966. In the same year, a Scoring Committee was first created by the Dutch Association. Vleeshhouwer became the Secretary of the Scoring Committee, which was led by Henk Knol. Both succeeded in expanding the scoring corps and taught new scorers the rules of scoring games. For five years, Vleeshhouwer was the Secretary and acted as Official Scorer. After an one-year absence, he returned to the Committee as its Chairman in 1972, succeeding Knol. Vleesshouwer led the Committee through 1984, then was succeeded by Gert Snel.

...Theo Vleeshhouwer with his wife Jopie at a Summer meeting...
...of 'De Kieviten' during the 2008 Haarlem Baseball Week...
...The two were married for more than 60 years...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
In the same period, Vleeshhouwer was the Secretary of the Education and Examinations Committee for five years (1967-1971).

In the meantime, in 1964, Vleeshhouwer also had become a member of the board of 'De Kieviten', which was founded in 1938 which the purpose of spreading the sport of baseball and softball through the country and to improve the conditions to play the sport. Nowadays, it still assists clubs when needed, but also has become an Alumni-club. Theo Vleeshhouwer was a member for 26 years and served as Vice-Chairman in 1982-1989. In 1988, he was named Honorary Member of De Kieviten.

In 1983-1989, Vleeshhouwer also was a member of the board of the 'Bleesing Fonds' (founded in 1952), which also supported clubs to improve the development of the baseball- and softball-sport.

In 1972, Theo Vleeshhouwer became the Secetary of the Board of the KNBSB, which had been formed in January 1971 after the merger of the Dutch Baseball Association and Dutch Softball Associaton. As Secretary, Vleeshhouwer succeeded Guus van der Heijden, who became Vice-Chairman of the Board, which was chaired by Herman van der Stek. In 1973, Van der Heijden became the new Chairman of the KNBSB. Both Vleeshhouwer and Van der Heijden went on to lead the Dutch Assocation for many years. Vleeshhouwer was the Secretary for 17 years, while Van der Heijden was the Chairman for 13 years. Nowadays, it is not possible to be in the same position for such a long time, as the longest is now determined two 4-year terms. Van der Heijden announced his resignation in 1986, but then unexpected passed away in January 1987. Other longtime members of the board in these years were Gerard Voogd, Dries de Zwaan, Freek Bos, Jules de Pierre and Wil Soolsma. As Secretary of the Board, Theo Vleeshhouwer oversaw the Head Office, which then was located in Amsterdam, before moving to Santpoort in 1979.

In 1974, Vleeshhouwer took on another position, as he became the Secretary of the newly-formed Rules Committee of the KNBSB. Together with Van der Heijden (chairman) and Maarten Vrij (member), the three formed this committee for many years. After the passing of Van der Heijden, Vleeshhouwer and Vrij continued through 1989.

In June of 1989, a new structure of the Board was proposed and accepted and Vleeshhouwer then resigned as Secretary, as well as stopping with his positions in the Rules Committee, De Kieviten and the Bleesing Fonds.

...Theo Vleeshhouwer with his longtime fellow KNBSB-boardmember...
...Jules de Pierre during the 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Theo Vleeshhouwer also had been a longtime administrator of the European Softball Federation. In June 1976, the Federation was founded in Rome (Italy) by representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. KNBSB-boardmember Dries de Zwaan was then elected as its first Secretary-General/Treasurer. A year later, De Zwaan stepped down as KNBSB-boardmember. In July 1977, De Zwaan was succeeded as ESF Secretary-General and Treasurer by Vleeshhouwer. He served in that position for nine years, then was elected President of the ESF on March 16, 1985 in Zandvoort (Netherlands), succeeding Italian Bruno Beneck, who had been the first President since 1976. As Secretary, Vleeshhouwer was succeeded by Belgian Anny Reinenbergh-Heusschen, who in 1993 became the new President herself. Vleeshhouwer stepped down as ESF-President in 1991.

In 1981, Vleeshhouwer was elected Vice-President for Europe in the Board of the International Softball Federation, which he also continued to do through 1991. In those years, he also was a member of the ISF-game rules committee.

In his years on the Board of the ESF and ISF, a lot of work was done to get softball an Olympic status. Vleeshhouwer gave several lectures for the International Olympic Committee, as did longtime ISF-President Don Porter. Baseball was played at the Olympics since 1984, softball followed in 1996. The two sports were dropped from the Olympic Programme after 2008, but will return in 2020.

Theo Vleeshhouwer was a busy person and, as mentioned served in many committees. In 1977, he was a member of the Organizing Committee of the European Baseball Championship, which then was held in Haarlem (Netherlands). In later years (1980-1987), he was a member of the Organizing Committee of the bi-annual Haarlem Baseball Week. In 1986, the World Championship Baseball was first organized in the Netherlands and Vleeshhouwer was the Secretary-General of the Organizing Committee.

In 1980, Theo Vleeshhouwer became the Chairman of the Organizing Committee for International Softball Events in the Netherlands. In that first board, he was joined by Dries de Zwaan, Jacques Kort, Suze van Breukelen, Conny Broere, Ben de Brouwer, Janke Nijdam and Wil Soolsma.

It was this board that realized a dream in 1980 when the inaugural edition of the international Haarlem Softball Week was organized at the Noordersportpark in Haarlem (Netherlands). Vleeshhouwer presided over four more editions in 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989.

...Theo Vleeshhouwer with fellow Dutch Hall of Famers Herman Beidschat,...
...Ludy van Mourik, Hamilton Richardson, Wim Oosterhof and Jules de Pierre...
...during the 2008 Haarlem Baseball Week...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
For his many (international) contributions and activities, Theo Vleeshhouwer was honored several times. In 1966, he was awarded the Slugger, which is the highest recognition of the KNBSB for promotional activities. He won the Award for his many work he had done for seven years for coverage of baseball and being the editor-of-chief of 'Honkbal-Nieuws'. In 1980, Vleeshhouwer again won the Slugger and up to now, he still is the only person to win the Award twice. This time, for the organization of the Haarlem Softball Week.

In 1981, the ISF established a Hall of Fame. Amongst the first group of three was Clovis Lodewijks from the Netherlands Antilles. In the second group in 1983, Nol Houtkamp became the first European and first Dutchman to be elected into the Hall of Fame. In 1987, the fourth class was elected and this time, Theo Vleeshhouwer was amongst the persons to be honored this way.

In 1988, Vleeshhouwer was also elected into the ESF Hall of Fame and in July 2004, he became a member of the Dutch Hall of Fame.

On March 13, 1982, almost seventy years after the founding of the Netherlands Baseball Association, Theo Vleeshhouwer was named Honorary Member of the KNBSB.

After retiring from his many positions, Theo Vleeshhouwer always remained a frequent visitor of the international events organized in the Netherlands. That included attending the annual reunion of former players at the Haarlem Baseball and World Port Tournament, but also European Championships and European Cup-tournaments in both baseball and softball. And of course, the first World Softball Championship organized in Europe in 2014 when Haarlem (Netherlands) was the location. Through the years, he also attended most annual Summer- and/or Winter social meetings of the members of 'De Kieviten'. However, due to his health, he was unable to do so at recent meetings.

Theo Vleeshhouwer always was well-humored and always had a friendly word for everyone he met during these occassions. Theo Vleeshhouwer was a legendary administrator and pioneer of our sports. He will surely be missed.

The webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News offers his condolences to Theo's wife Jopie and other family and wishes them a lot of strength with this big loss.

(March 4)

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