Schaken-Honkbal Club Keodijk, (Chess-Baseball Club Koedijk) known colloquially as SHC Koedijk, is a professional baseball club in Koedijk, Houtmansland. They are one of the three founding member clubs of the Houtmansland Professionele Honkbalvereniging (the HPHV) and the Houtmansland Topklasse Divisie.
SHC Koedijk can trace it’s roots back to 1873, when the Koedijk Herenschaak Vereniging (Koedijk Gentleman’s Chess Association) formed as a way for gentlemen from Koedijk’s upper classes to meet and discuss business over a game of chess. By 1896, many members pushed to create a baseball team following the explosive success of the sport throughout the Southern Union. The club’s first game was against Zuidelijk Negen on August 18 1896, a team comprised of school boys aged 16 to 18 in which the Chess Association ran out 14-9 winners. Upon the creation of the Houtmansland Honkbalvereniging (HHBV) and the Houtman Serie, the Association rebranded to Schaken-Honkbal Club Keodijk and quickly found mild success, reaching the semi-finals in 1897, 1898 and 1899.
With the professional game gaining significant traction financially abroad, members of the club felt turning professional was the only option to maintain an elite status; paying talented players would reduce the working class participation, and the vast wealth held by the members would make SHC Koedijk very competitive. The members sought approval for a professional league with Eikenheuvel HC, and KBO Armweide, successfully creating the Houtmansland Professionele Honkbalvereniging (the HPHV) in 1901, to begin play in 1902.
Following the creation of Topklasse Divisie, SHC Koedijk snapped up any and all talented players around the city, romping to the league title in the inaugural season, dropping just 9 games and winning 21. The vacuum of players from smaller teams such as Zuidelijk Negen to try out – and subsequently sign – for SHC Koedijk saw many clubs disband due to lack of players to which the city took many decades to recover from once the Topklasse Divisie imposed rules on the number of players under contract.
SHC Koedijk plays it’s games out of Elsinga Honkbalveld, a 42,000 seater stadium situated in the heart of downtown along the northern waterfront. People from around the world regularly compare thelocation of the ballpark to the one in San Francisco, United States but with some unique differences to the playing field. A shallow foul pole in left field caused by a nearby wharf gives right-handed pull hitters a slight advantage, but an extremely deep center field with its 17-foot high wall balances things out. The ballpark is technically a hitters park – but only just – as Pitchers get the added bonus of a slight wind blowing towards the batter most of the time.
The team is affectionally dubbed ‘De Torens‘ (The Towers) in main-stream media and supporters alike, but it wasn’t until the 1960s when the team adopted the nickname officially, with the teams first logo being a silhouette of a rook chess piece.