Atletisch Bath, locally referred to as Atletisch, is a professional baseball club in the small satellite town of Bath, Houtmansland, which is situated just north of the capital city Koedijk. They officially became a professional team in 1907 when they joined the newly-expanded Topklasse Divisie with SAE.
The club can trace its roots as far back as 1886, when workers at the Bath Scheepswerf (Bath Shipyard) formed a fitness group to keep active during the winter months. The group arranged many indoor activities on equipment pertaining to a gymnasium at the time, most of which were repurposed scrap from the shipyard. When baseball exploded on to the scene in the 1890s, the workers quickly found baseball more enjoyable and played their first ever game against Bath Oude Jongens – a team comprised of 16 year old boys from the local school – winning the game 15-4.
With the knockout tournament Houtman Serie beginning play in 1897, Atletisch Bath quickly joined the Houtmansland Honkbalvereniging (HHBV) to participate. Despite being granted an exception to play in the competition that only allowed entry to teams from Koedijk and Eikenheuvel due to Bath being considered part of Koedijk at the time, Atletisch held their heads up high, reaching the semi-finals in 1898 and 1900.
Following the creation of the Houtmansland Professionele Honkbalvereniging (the HPHV) in 1901, Atletisch was banned from joining the new governing body for baseball from shipyard owner Thijme Diependaal who insisted that any employees attempting to turn professional would be sacked. Diependaal, acting on behalf of the club as de facto owner, declined the offer to join the new Topklasse Divisie starting in the 1902 baseball season. When news of the offer reached the players, some quit on the spot and joined teams such as KBO Armweide and Bos Aan Zee in an attempt to turn professional themselves.
The team continued to play in the Houtman Serie, notching up their only success in 1903 by winning the tournament against VZV. By late-1905 however, the players staged a revolt when Thijme Diependaal refused to allow the players to train during the week claiming it to be a distraction to the working day.
I’m incredibly proud of my workers to have triumphed in the Houtman Serie, and wish to emphasise my commitment to the team and my workers. However, baseball is an amateur hobby and should in no way interfere with the working week. Sundays are for indulging in hobbies, which is all Atletisch Bath is, a hobby.– Thijme Diependaal, in a letter to all the players. Circa 1905
This caused great unrest to the players who went behind the back of Diependaal and gambled their career and livelihoods by joining the HPHV in May of 1906 to turn professional following news of the Topklasse Divisie expanding by two teams. The gamble paid off and Atletisch Bath was granted entry into the competition for the 1907 season.
The club plays it’s games out of Eghaamveld which is situated to the east of the town near the major interchange of Motorway 1. The ballpark has a slight advantage to pitchers despite a tiny increase in batting averages for right-handed hitters in part due to the large right field that impinges left-handed batters. The outfield wall extends 11-feet high from the left field foul pole, increasing to 12-feet left of centre. The stadium is famed for it’s bullpens which sit on top of the stands in left field requiring an elevator for the players to reach the playing area.
The team is devotedly known as De Zwarte Schapen (The Black Sheep) and play in canary yellow and blue.