For the average (Dutch) baseball fan, the name Rick van Dijck may not ring a bell immediately but Rick is one of those Dutch players that is playing abroad for several years now. Time to put him into the spotlights.
Rick started to play baseball at the age of eight with De Knuppelaars from Rosmalen. The club does not exist anymore as it merged with H.B.S. from neighboring Den Bosch into Gryphons. Rick ended up to be a journey man. Not only in Europe but also in the Netherlands. He played with Oosterhout Twins in the overgangsklasse (second-tier league) and with the Hawks from Dordrecht in the Dutch hoofdklasse. He also pitched an inning in the Dutch hoofdklasse for UVV from Utrecht. If he is back in the Netherlands occasionally, he throws some innings for overgangsklasse club Euro Stars from Capelle aan den IJssel.
2012 was a crazy year in Rick’s baseball life. Thanks to his brother, who knew Georg Apfelbaum, the latter had a chat with Rick and asked him to join a European team that would head to Japan. Next to this trip to Japan, Rick also played in Italy in that year and experienced his first Prague Baseball Week.
In 2018, Rick headed to Australia to play in the Canberra State League for the Ainslie Bears, a farm team of the Canberra Cavalry. The Bears won the league championship that year.
In 2019, the intention was to go to Italy, where Redipuglia made him an offer. But an injury sustained at the gym, made that deal fall through so instead of heading to Italy, Rick returned to the Czech Republic where he started to pitch for second-tier league team SaBaT Praha (Prague).
Before joining SaBaT Praha, Rick pitched for the other club from the Czech capital: Eagles Praha. In 2019, Rick and SaBaT earned a promotion to the Czech Extra League. Rick won the pitchers’ Triple Crown (best ERA, most strikeouts and most wins). But after seven years in Czech baseball, he wanted a new challenge. So after making clear he was looking for a new club, Diving Ducks Wiener Neustadt from Austria knocked on Rick’s door. For him it was a perfect fit. Not only did he like the ambitions of the club but since his girlfriend is Austrian, going to the Alpine country was a logical step.
The ambitions of the Diving Ducks Wiener Neustadt, which is located about 30 km South of Vienna, are to become a solid club that can participate in the CEB cup. The club has a very young but talented flagship team of which Rick is the oldest guy with the age of twenty-seven. With their new manager, Luis Camargo, the club is aiming for the Austrian championship.
In his first season with the Diving Ducks, Rick posted a 4.39 ERA with a 4-3 record in ten starts. In the rare occasions he came at bat, he showed that he can handle the bat as well, as he went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the season. Despite his relatively high ERA, he managed to keep his opponents to a .219 batting average.
According to Rick, there are three more years of baseball left in his arm. After that he wants to settle down and start a family and a career after baseball. But plans can change of course. With 32 clubs in the 2021 Series A, there will be a need for pitchers. Perhaps one of those clubs will offer him a contract.
Besides playing for several European clubs, Rick also played for the International Stars, a team created for the occasion to participate in several European tournaments. He ended up with the Stars when one of his connections in Czech baseball asked him to participate after a very good year as a closer with the Eagles Praha. He participated in the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Prague Baseball Week. Rick was about to participate in the Yoshida Challenge at the ballpark of the Templiers de Sénart as well but due to family business at home and his work, he wasn’t able to join the team.
One thing has become clear during this interview: Even though he is not one of the well known Dutch players, Rick has seen a lot of the world thanks to baseball.
I would like to thank Rick for the time he took to do this interview, which didn’t start as an interview at all, but as a chat through Facebook Messenger.