In the fourth episode of a series about not so famous players from the Dutch kingdom playing abroad, we pay attention to Tristan Korf, who is residing and playing in Norway (Scandinavia).
At the age of five, Tristan started to play baseball. First he had to get his swimming diplomas but when he did that, he was allowed to pick a sport. Like a typical Dutch boy he thought about football (soccer) but also baseball struck his mind, even though he still doesn’t know why. Eventually, he chose baseball and he is still happy he did.
Tristan started to play with WSB from Apeldoorn and played there until his family moved to Norway when he was eleven years old. Since finding a school was pretty hard, all schools were at their maximum of pupils, he did not have much to do, so he started to look for a baseball club. Luckily for him, his parents found a home that was close to a baseball field, so he played baseball sooner than he went to school. This club, ØHIL Royals, is a part of an omni club that practices several sports like handball, nordic skiing, bandy, football and a couple of other sports. ØHIL stands for Øvrevoll Hosle IL. The baseball branch is called ØHIL Royals. ØHIL is a merger between two clubs: Øvrevoll Ballklubb and Hosle Idrettslag
When Tristan eventually found a school in Norway, the intention was to attend an international class in the first months. But since that class was full, he had no choice but attending Norwegian classes. In this way he was forced to learn Norwegian as quick as possible. According to Tristan, Norwegian and Dutch do not really differ that much. When you listen closely, there are similarities.
Tristan has played all of his Norwegian life for ØHIL even though there are pictures of him wearing a Kristiansand Suns jersey. This can be explained as follows. Since baseball is a very small sport in Norway (about 300 player on a population of 5,4 million = 0.0005556%) players are allowed to play for any team. In this way, players can play as much as possible during a season that is very short. So the Kristiansand Suns borrowed him for a game. But this borrowing players is only allowed until the age of twenty-one.
He has also played for the Norwegian U18 team but that was only with a friendly tournament in Greece. Since Tristan still has the Dutch nationality, he isn’t allowed to play for the Norwegian team. But he has applied for a Norwegian passport with an emergency procedure to try to get the passport before May, the month the Norwegian team needs to publish its roster for the upcoming qualifiers for the European Championship.
When he started to play baseball in Norway, he noticed that Little League runs from the age of eight until thirteen. He started to play against children who were a lot younger than he was. He was allowed to play at a higher level but that meant that he had to face adults while he was only twelve. But that made him a better player.
Even though he would like to play in the Netherlands, there are many things that are keeping him in Norway: school, work, a girlfriend. But since he has a good feeling about the development of baseball in Norway likely playing in the Dutch competition will not happen any time soon.
Currently, Tristan is working at a home for the elderly. But he will go back to school again to study economical science.
Previously you could read baseball is a small sport in Norway. Currently there are seventeen registered clubs. But a few of them do not play official games because the travel costs are way too high. Of these seventeen clubs, five to seven are playing in the highest Norwegian League, the Eliteserien. During the 2020 season only six started because of corona but during the season, the Bergen Wet Sox dropped out. As a result, the top three teams, ØHIL Royals, the Oslo Pretenders, and the Kristiansand Suns played thirteen games while other teams only played ten or eleven. Tristan is hoping Baseball in Norway can get enough clubs in the big cities, so they can start to play regionally.
As international baseball is played with wooden bats, baseball in Norway is played with wooden bats as well. Until U15, players are allowed to play with aluminum bats.
Next to playing baseball, Tristan also was a coach. He coached the little league team of ØHIL. But since baseball is such a small game, he had to coach the team all by himself. In fact there are not enough players. They need help to recruit new players to make the game grow. This was pretty hard to do. Besides coaching little league, he was also player-coach of the flagship team of ØHIL. Now he is focusing on playing only. He can play all positions and even though he has pitched a lot, he will likely play first base in the upcoming season.
I would like to thank Tristan for the time he took to answer the questions. Your cooperation is really appreciated.