We Dutch like to refer to the Dutch heritage of baseball players in the US. You can think of Bert Blyleven or Reinie Wolters (both born in the Netherlands but learned the game in the USA). You can also think of Win Remmerswaal, who learned the game in his country of birth. But there is another baseball Dutchie that we are paying attention to in this blog post.
Jack Lelivelt was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1885, at least that is what Wikipedia is telling. Baseball-Reference is confirming that Lelivelt was born in the Netherlands though the city of birth is not mentioned as does SABR.
Anyhow, his parents emigrated to the USA two years after his birth. Despite his Dutch roots, Jack picked up baseball as a kid. Baseball was hardly known in the Netherlands in those days. Eventually, Jack made his Major League debut in 1909 with the Washington Senators where he was teammates with the great Walter Johnson. After three years with the Senators, Lelivelt ended up with the New York Highlanders in 1912. Jack started the 1912 season in the minors with the Rochester Hustlers where he put up some nice numbers. This didn’t go unnoticed and the Highlanders bought his contract. During that 1912 season, he hit a more than respectable .362.
Despite his good hitting, Jack never was a regular player. His best year came in 1913. With the Yankees, he hit a lowly .214 but after he was traded to the Cleveland Naps, he started to see the ball again and batted .391. But also with the Cleveland Naps, Lelivelt didn’t get much playing time as he appeared in only thirty-four games.
After 1914, he would never return to the Bigs and spent the rest of his career in the minors until 1925, when he retired as a player. In 1920, he would become player-manager of the Omaha Rourkes of the Western League. He had a lifetime MLB batting average of .301 but appeared in only 385 games in six years of MLB service.
But Lelivelt would make some steps in minor league baseball. He would become the manager of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. In 1934, he guided that team to a whopping 137 victories in 187 games.
After the Seattle Rainiers got a new owner, Lelivelt was hired as their manager. He guided the team to consecutive PCL titles in 1939 and 1940.
Two years after his death in 1941, he died because of a heart attack, Lelivelt was elected in the PCL’s Hall of Fame.