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  • Michael Rusignuolo

Pim Mulier Sportpark - DSS Haarlem


Photos by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Pim Mulier Sportpark Jaap Edenlaan 7, 2024 BW Haarlem, Netherlands

Year Opened: 1963 Capacity: 500

 

Complicated Arrangements

Haarlem’s baseball history is long and complicated, and remains so to this day. The Dutch major leagues, Honkbal Hoofdklasse, work on the European football (soccer) relegation system, so teams need to qualify for the top league and stay competitive to stay there. The first Haarlem club to hit the big time was the turn-of-the-century SC Haarlem, who had great success, winning several early Holland Series championships before relegation and eventual merger with competing sportclub HHC into the Sparks (which still plays in lower leagues today).

Haarlem Nicols formed in the 60s and was the next big powerhouse, setting the Holland Series victory record in the 70s and 80s that was only recently eclipsed by Rotterdam’s Neptunus. But financial mismanagement crippled the team, and it went bankrupt in 1994. Then came Kinheim, which formed in the 1930s but was only a relatively recent contender to king-of-the-hill Neptunus, but an exedous of players saw them withdraw from Honkbal Hoofdklasse in 2017. Newcomer Haarlem DSS made it to the Honkbal Hoofdklasse in 2015 and is now the only representative from Haarlem in the top league.

Following so far? Since the 1960s, most Haarlem baseball teams have played at Pim Mulier Sportspark, a multi-sport athletic complex named for one of the founders of modern Dutch sport. These sportparks are usually arranged as an MLB Spring Training facility, with a main stadium and several subsidiary fields all crowded together to handle different levels of baseball and softball. The main field at the sportpark was built in 1994, the 2,500-seat Pim Mulier Stadium, one of the nicest and most modern ballparks in the Netherlands.

It rises to the level of about AA US MiLB (where the league-average field is about a Rookie-level facility), and the stadium features a business area, a small museum, and a full restaurant. Due to the vagarities of club politics, Kinheim alone has the rights to play in Pim Mulier Stadium, even though they are relegated to a lower level due to the player departures in 2017. The current Honkbal Hoofdklasse team in Haarlem, DSS, must play on a lesser field in the Pim Mulier Sportspark a short distance away.

Pim Mulier Sportpark gets the job done for seeing a ballgame in an easy-to-get-to location at great prices, but it does leave a lot to be desired by the physical facilities.

[All prices are in Euros. At the time of writing, one Euro is worth about $1.15.]

Food & Beverage 3

Nearly all the teams in Honkbal Hoofdklasse have their food and drink concessions in their clubhouse, and DSS is no exception, but their clubhouse isn’t in their tiny park, but across the pedestrian walkway near the football fields. There is a small canteen located under the small grandstand that sells snacks, but if you want anything substantial (or bathrooms for that matter), you have to walk over the main clubhouse.

There’s a normal selection of Dutch sports food on offer, including hamburgers, hot dogs, frites, toasti sandwiches, and Dutch meatballs (all €5 and under). The portions are good, and the prices are unassailable.

DSS serves up a good selection of suds in their clubhouse, including Jupiler and local-boy Jopen, as well as wine and spirits for €3 or less. Again, can’t argue the prices. Coca-Cola rules the non-alcoholic roost.

Since you’re in Haarlem, grab a Jopen beer, brewed a short distance away. Take your pick of food, but the Dutch meatballs are worth a try, and, of course, grab some frites.

Atmosphere 2

Pim Mulier Sportpark’s baseball field is the lesser of the baseball facilities in the park, but even its cramped confines let you watch a game.

The field walls are all constructed out of chain link, with the exception of the small brick grandstand. Bunker-like brick dugouts sit outside the chain link fence, and fenced bullpens sit outside either outfield wall. The tight confines behind home plate hold a small grandstand of five rows of molded plastic seats, topped with a small press box. There are several fixed benches in the area looking to the field, but there are also many loose chairs that patrons use to make their own seats. There is a small elevated pavilion on the first base side with a tall table and bar chairs that have ashtrays for the local smokers (of whom there are quite a bit), and there are other tall tables scattered around for people to eat and drink.

A large electric scoreboard sits in the left field corner, displaying the count, outs, inning-by-inning score and the number of the player at bat. The high outfield chain link wall is covered in advertisements against a backdrop of trees only broken up by an apartment construction going on beyond the right-center wall. The main clubhouse and all restrooms are at the DSS clubhouse across the street.

As is the case in most Honkbal Hoofdklasse games, there are no mascots or between-innings entertainment that permeate all levels of US baseball. You get in-stadium PA announcements, batter walk-up music, and the Seventh Inning Stretch, period. Since this is a step up from club ball, however, there are some nice vestiges of sportsmanship. Each batter coming the plate for the first time usually shakes the hand of the umpire and the opposing catcher.

Sit where you want. The grandstand is the best view, but feel free to either grab a chair and make your perfect seat behind the batter’s box or sidle up to a tall table with your food from across the way to eat and drink while you watch the game.


Neighborhood 4

Pim Mulier Sportpark is located a short distance from the city center in Haarlem, with a good selection of restaurants and hotels, but not much to keep you occupied.

Unlike most Honkbal Hoofdklasse stadiums, there is a good selection of restaurants right by the park. To the west of the park are foodie heaven Restaurant N.A.P. Bloemendaal, upscale Restaurant Noor, and the Italian La Capannina. Just to the east are SushiRito Haarlem, the Indian Roti Room, Ricardoz Tapas, and Chinese Lok Moon. If those don’t tickle your fancy, take the short trip to downtown Haarlem or the train up to Amsterdam.

One downside is there is not a lot to do in the immediate location directly around the park. Obviously, this is quickly fixed by the short ride to Haarlem city center or heading east to Amsterdam. There is the nature park Natuur-en Milleucentrum Ter Kleef (great for kids), and that’s about it unless you go further afield.

There is a nice selection of hotels near the park, dozens more after the short ride to Haarlem center, and countless options the twenty minutes to Amsterdam. Nearest the park is the budget Stayokay Haarlem, to the north is Bastion Hotel Haarlem Velsen and Hotel De Weyman, and to the southwest are the more upscale Hotel ibis Styles Haarlem City, Hotel Bleecker, Bloemendaal, and Hotel Bloemandaal.

Fans 3

Baseball (or honkbal, as it is known locally) is very much a fringe sport in The Netherlands, and for all of Europe for that matter. The Dutch Honkbal Hoofdklasse is one of the only semipro/professional leagues on the continent, sharing the distinction with the Italian Baseball League.

Even in their cramped stadium, DSS seems to draw the low-end of the average Dutch baseball crowds (between 100-250 people per game). After games and practices at the surrounding fields end, the players and spectators come over to watch the top-level men play their games. Another out-of-the-ordinary status quo is that there are usually pet dogs at every game. It is a welcome change for dog lovers, less so if you don’t like them.

Local fans sit in the small grandstand or arrange chairs behind home plate. Smokers and drinkers line up at the tall tables on the firstmbase side. Visitors arrange chairs on the third base side close to the visiting dugout. Sitting by the announcer’s booth can be enjoyable, as you can often hear them object to calls on the field before they make official announcements.

Access 3

Pim Mulier Sportpark is easy to get to and relatively quick from most major cities, although the cramped stadium and the separate facilities does make it little inefficient to get around.

Mass transit is a snap, as the park is a short walk away from the Haarlem Bloemendaal train station. It is about twenty minutes from Amsterdam Centraal (€5.00) and a little under an hour from Rotterdam (€13.50). Driving, cab, or ride share is just under ten minutes to the center of Haarlem, a half hour from Amsterdam, and an hour from Rotterdam.

There is a parking lot by the park, and there is plenty of free bicycle parking. Cabs and ride shares can drop you off right at the park entrance, a short walk to the field.

The stadium just has one entrance into the cramped confines. Entering is not a problem, but even with the relatively small crowds, you have to step aside for people sometimes if they are coming from the other direction. All facilities are located across the pedestrian walk at the main clubhouse, so getting grub and using the facilities is a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

Return on Investment 4

There’s no charge to get into the park, so you can’t really argue with that.

Everything is €5 or under, including alcohol, so you can’t quibble on the prices.

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Extras 2

As with all the Dutch stadiums, extras are at a minimum. The clubhouse has the usual selection of baseball memorabilia, as well as club trophies and awards, plus a “DSS Hall of Fame” on one wall. There is one retired number on the right field wall for Ruud Naaktgeboren #2, a small plaque for Dick Hoff on the grandstand wall. DSS is also the only team in Honkbal Hoofdklasse to offer a free program to visitors.

As Dutch clubhouse personnel are almost all volunteers, they are polite and helpful to a person and are always glad to talk to and assist visitors.


Final Thoughts

Pim Mulier Sportpark’s cramped confines are somewhat alleviated with its convenient location with lots of local amenities, and it still hits the basics to enjoy a game of baseball.




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