Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren - Oosterhaut Twins
Photos by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren Kasteeldreef 32, 4907 EA Oosterhaut, Netherlands
Year Opened: 1976 Capacity: 1,000
Middle of the Road
The Twins are relative late-comers to the Dutch baseball scene, founded in 1969 as an extension of the Twins SC (Sporting Club) football club, playing their first games on the fields next to the football pitches near the club’s sportpark. A surge in popularity in the late 70s drove the team from their second-class surroundings, and they moved to their current location at Sportpark De Slotbosse in 1976 and reformed themselves as the “Twins Sporting Club.”
Honkbal Hoofdklasse uses a promotion and relegation system familiar to European football (soccer) fans, and the Twins broke into the top level for the first time in the late 90s, even merging with another local team (Feniks) in 1996. Their fates have gone up and down over the years, but they have made it back to the Honkbal Hoofdklasse since 2016.
Sportpark De Slotbosse (or Sportspark Twins, as they like to call it) is an average facility in the Honkbal Hoofdklasse, but it suffers from some specific liabilities that make it a bit problematic for non-Dutch visitors.
[All prices are in Euros. At the time of writing, one Euro is worth about $1.15.]
Food & Beverage 1
All of the teams in Honkbal Hoofdklasse have clubhouses that contain bars and food concessions for their fans. Oosterhaut is no different, with a small selection of beer, snacks, and food items such as sandwiches and sausages available for purchase.
The distinction here, however, is that the Twins clubhouse does not take cash, and it does not take non-Dutch bank credit cards, which means effectively there is no way for a non-Dutch person to buy food or beverages at the game. Given that nearly all of their customers are locals, this is obviously a minor issue for them, but for anyone visiting from outside the country, this means no food for you unless you bring it with you, a regrettable situation.
Consider this a warning to bring your own.
Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren is a baseball-only facility the Twins moved to when they split from their original football parent club in the late 70s. It isn’t the nicest ballpark in the world, but it gets the job done. It is about on the level of Rookie league park in the American minor leagues.
The main ball field is made up mostly of chain-link fencing for walls and structures. A paved plaza extends around the park and the clubhouse on the third base side of home plate. A single level of molded plastic seats sits on concrete steps behind home plate, running about half the way to first and third bases. A small press box is perched at the top of the seats. A row of concrete benches runs along the third base line, ground-zero for visiting fans near the third base visiting dugout.
A small digital scoreboard just records the score, balls, strikes, outs, and inning in left-center field. Trees rise above the chain-link outfield wall in an unbroken line. Smoking is very much still a thing in the otherwise progressive Netherlands, and there are several picnic tables in the plaza in front of the clubhouse with ash trays built in to accommodate them. Scattered standing tables also provide a vantage to watch the game from the plaza.
Here is an important bit of information: Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren does *not* have lights. While this does not affect the afternoon games on the weekend that start at 2 PM, this does affect the Thursday night games that start at 7:30 PM. Even if the Twins are scheduled for a home game, they will *not* be playing at Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren. They either will be the home team at an opponent field or play at other field beside this one. So be alert if you’re visiting on a Thursday.
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. Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren is one of the only Honkbal Hoofdklasse fields to even fly the Dutch flag. 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.
The park is located at the northern part of the small city of Oosterhaut in North Brabant. While there isn’t a lot to do, it does have a decent selection of places to rest your head and a plethora of dining options.
South of the park in the city center, Oosterhaut is home to dozens of restaurants. Standouts include the Thai Qualithai, Italian La Forchetta, cozy Dutch Eetlokaal Kliners, and Dutch Het Houtse Meer.
While there are places to eat, unfortunately there’s not a ton to do in Oosterhaut. The two main attractions in the town are the Bakkerij Museum Oosterhaut (Oosterhaut Bakery Museum), a hands-on museum where you can try different historical baking techniques; and the Toy and Carnival Museum, a fun, child-friendly look at toys and pastimes through history.
Oosterhaut does house a handful of hotels and B&Bs. Closest to the park is the Bed & Breakfast Villa BBB, and further south are the budget A-Hotel Oosterhaut, upscale Il Vicino, budget Hotel Cage ‘t Zonneke, and the mid-range Lodewijck.
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.
The Twins draw about 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.
The Twins fans (and the visiting fans in attendance) are into the games and pay attention to the on-field action. They are definitely a small, but dedicated baseball fan base.
Unfortunately, Oosterhaut is not very convenient to get to, and it is one of the longer trips from the major cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam) in all of the Honkbal Hoofdklasse.
While the park is a short distance from the city center, Oosterhaut is connected only by bus to the nearest transit hub (Breda). Arriva Bus 325 or 326 will get you to bus stop Sterrenlaan, Oosterhaut (E3.28) just across the street from the ballpark, but it is a half-hour bus ride after getting to Breda itself (an hour from Amsterdam by train, a half hour from Rotterdam). Your best bet is driving, cab, or rideshare from Breda, which is only 15 minutes, or half the time of the bus trip. It is ~45 minute drive from Rotterdam, and an hour and twenty minutes from Amsterdam.
There is a small parking lot by the ballpark, and there is plenty of free bicycle parking. Cabs and ride shares can drop you off right at the park entrance.
There is one entrance to the facility through the main gate. This is the only choke point in the entire park, as it opens out onto a plaza and wide walkways that connect it with all the other fields and facilities in the complex, allowing free access.
Return on Investment 5
This is kind of a tough one to quantify. There is no admission fee and no way for non-Dutch patrons to buy any food items, so technically everything is free and the value in infinite. But it does kind of limit you in what you are getting.
As with all the Dutch stadiums, extras are at a minimum. The clubhouse has a selection of baseball memorabilia, as well as club trophies and awards. Whimsical wooden signs guides you at the entrance to the park, and there are two retired numbers in the corners of the outfield walls (Martijn Meeuiws – 33, and Patrick van Gool – 23). And that’s about it.
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.
Sportpark De Slotbosse Toren is an average Honkbal Hoofdklasse ballpark. It is in a nice enough location, but it is difficult to get to, and non-Dutch folks won’t be able to buy anything while they are there–so bring your own.