Today, 107 years ago, the Amsterdamsche Honkbalclub (AHC) Quick was founded. The club from Amsterdam survived several critical periods in its history but eventually stood the test of time to become Europe’s oldest existing baseball club.
On March 1, 1913, a group of friends founded AHC Quick at the Parkzicht hotel. From the start, the team played some games but not in competition yet. The very first competition in the Netherlands took off in 1922 and was won by AHC Quick.
The absolute highlight in the existence of the club is the 1922 championship commemorative medal that is shown on the right. At the end of 2012, shortly before the 100th anniversary year, the chairman of the club was called by someone who found it on the pavement in the center of Amsterdam. The back of the medal refers to winning the 1922 Dutch championship.
In the early years, the chairman of the club, Emile Bleesing, realized if the sport wanted to grow, soccer clubs should be approached and the game of baseball should be promoted as the ideal summer sport for soccer players. So several players were sent to soccer clubs to promote and teach te game. As a result, many Dutch soccer clubs had baseball branches: Ajax, Feyenoord, and Sparta (Rotterdam) for example. Unfortunately, all baseball branches of the aforementioned clubs ceased to exist.
After Blauw Wit (Blue-White) and Ajax (both from Amsterdam) won the Dutch championship respectively in 1923 and 1924, Quick clinched its second championship in 1925.
In those early years, it was clear that baseball was played by many soccer players as they played in shorts instead of baseball pants. Even when AHC Quick celebrated its 3rd championship in 1935, the team wore a hotchpotch of baseball uniforms and soccer outfits as you can see below.
The fourth person from the right in the back row is Otto Sterman, son of a Dutch mother and a father from Curaçao. He was the first black player to play in the Dutch highest league. IF there was any color barrier in the Netherlands, it was broken twelve years before Jackie Robinson broke it in America.
As written before, the club had some rough periods. 1931 and 1932 for example. The flagship team didn’t manage to win a single game in 1931 and only one in 1932. As a result, the club decided to step back and played in the tweede klasse (second division) in 1933, the club’s twentieth anniversary. The step down to the tweede klasse proved to be a good move as the team earned the championship of the tweede klasse and thus promoted to the first klasse (first division) again.
In the 1940s the club finished in last place several times but as many clubs were hit by the fact that Dutch men were forced to work in Nazi Germany, the Dutch Baseball Federation decided that no team would be demoted. But after WWII the curtain fell for Quick as it was demoted after the 1946 season. The club would never return at the highest Dutch level again.
Where many Dutch soccer clubs used baseball as a summer sport, AHC Quick searched for other sports to play during the wintertime. Members complained they only saw each other during the baseball season. Several other sports were practiced but not organized by AHC Quick: field hockey, table tennis, and billiards. But all these activities were loosely organized. Eventually in 1946, Quick established a basketball branch. It was rather short-lived and brought the club down to financial troubles. But as always, Quick survived.
In 1969, a handball branch was founded: De Uylsquickens (Owl chicks). This handball branch would last much longer than the basketball branch did.
Through the years, AHC Quick was a kind of gypsy as the club moved from one sports ground to another. In the 107 years, the club has called about seven or eight different sports grounds home. Eventually, in 1989, the club ended up at Sportpark Sloten, in the Western part of Amsterdam. For the first time in its history, the club had a ballpark that it could call it’s own.
The hundredth anniversary was celebrated in the same hotel where the club was founded: The Parkzicht hotel. Because of the centennial, the club tried to get the predicate “Royal” in front of its name but the request for it was denied. Now 107 years later, the club is going strong as it has four adult baseball teams, five ladies softball teams, three gentlemen’s softball teams and four youth teams in different age categories.
One would think that Quick could be the oldest baseball club outside the American continent, but there is a baseball club in Japan that was founded in 1908, so still with pride, AHC Quick can call itself the oldest baseball club in Europe. Yours truly takes some pride in having played for this beautiful club as well.