Next to Thomas de Wolf, Hoboken Pioneers will lose another player. Starting pitcher Kenny van den Branden played his last game on Saturday October 8. He hung up his cleats as well.
In Kenny van den Branden, Hoboken Pioneers and the Belgian national team lose a versatile pitcher that could be used as a starter and as a reliever.
It wasn’t strange that Kenny opted for baseball as a kid. In his family, baseball is genetically determined, as every generation hands the game over to the next. At the age of four, he made his first steps in baseball, thanks to his parents. Kenny’s career lasted thirty years.
In those years, he played for several clubs, both in the Netherlands as in Belgium. After playing twelve years in Belgium, Kenny made the move to the Netherlands, where he joined UVV from Utrecht in 2014. After one season with a 2-3 record and a 2.70 ERA, Neptunus lured him to Rotterdam, where he would live through his greatest moments. In 2015, Kenny posted an 8-1 record with an ERA of 1.26. In 2016, he would improve those numbers as he went 9-0 and posted a microscopic 0.62 ERA, which made him the best pitcher in the Dutch hoofdklasse.
But his biggest achievement was in game three of the European Champions Cup final in 2016, in which he singlehandedly limited Fortitudo Bologna to one run on four hits and a walk in six innings. As a result, in 2016, during the European Championship, Italian players came to him and asked if he was scheduled to pitch against them, so he left quite an impression in 2015.
After 2016, Kenny returned to Belgium, where he joined the Borgerhout Squirrels. With Kenny in their ranks, the Squirrels clinched the 2017 Belgian championship.
Another highlight ,according to Kenny, was the victory in the Federations Cup in 2017 and the victory in the CEB cup in 2018, both with the Borgerhout Squirrels, which gave Belgium the right to send its champion to the European Champions Cup in 2019. Unfortunately for the Squirrels, the Deurne Spartans won the 2018 Belgian championship and were allowed to play in the ECC the next year.
Eventually, Kenny went to the Hoboken Pioneers, where he joined a strong team and won the Belgian championship in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
As stated in the prologue, Kenny pitched his final game on Saturday, October 8, 2022. In this third game of the Belgian Series, he struggled and was pulled after five innings. He got a standing ovation from the fans, his team mates and the opposing team.
Kenny told the Dutch Baseball Hangout, there are several reasons to hang up his glove. A busy job, which makes it hard to spend time on baseball, little time to spend with his family, a sore arm, and a longer recovery time between games. During the last few seasons, Kenny used pain killers to suppress the pain he had during pitching. So eventually, this decision to call it quits is a wise one. It prevents him from getting surgery to his ailing shoulder.
But Kenny cannot say goodbye to the game completely. He will play softball next year: Slow pitch old men’s league and fast pitch as well.
I’d like to thank Kenny for taking time to answer my questions. I always enjoyed watching him pitch.
This blog post is brought to you by