The Houtmansland Professionele Honkbalvereniging (HPHV) is a baseball association that serves as the governing body for all baseball activities within the country of Houtmansland. Originally established in 1901 with the aim of overseeing professional baseball, the HPHV now plays a pivotal role in the development, organization, and promotion of the sport at all levels throughout the nation.
As the primary authority for baseball in Houtmansland, the HPHV is responsible for running the only professional league in the country, known as the Topklasse Divise. In addition to professional baseball, the HPHV also oversees amateur baseball competitions and clubs. The association actively supports and promotes the growth of the sport at the grassroots level by providing resources, training programs, and infrastructure development.
The HPHV also holds the responsibility of managing the national baseball teams of Houtmansland. This includes selecting and preparing the national team rosters, organizing international competitions, and representing the country on the global stage.
Baseball has grown to around 2,200 clubs currently, with 20,000 teams and 700,000 members, whereof about 350,000 are active players.
After the emergence of Houtmansland’s earliest baseball clubs in the 1890s, the sport witnessed a rapid surge in popularity, especially with the growth of the sport in nearby Günsovölk. However, there was a lack of formal structure, leading to matches being organized in a disorderly and inconsistent manner.
In 1897, the Houtmansland Honkbalvereniging (HHBV) was formed to oversee the running of the Houtman Serie, a knockout tournament that ran until 1931 that was only open to teams from Koedijk and Eikenheuvel. By 1900 though, many teams desired an opportunity to turn professional, citing success in Günsovölk and Koana Islands as well as the turn to professionalism in Ianoia.
Taking the initiative, Eikenheuvel HC, KBO Armweide and SHC Koedijk spearheaded efforts to address this issue. In 1901, an advertisement appeared in a Houtmansland newspaper, prompting representatives from other clubs to signify their interest in joining a new “professional tournament”. Initially, only Bos Aan Zee (the most successful team outside of Koedijk and Eikenheuvel) were invited to join the Topklasse Divisie, but with the goal of growing the game domestically, HHV (from Herveld) and RKC Mesch were invited to form the first 6 member teams. Bath-based team Atletisch declined to join whilst ACV Toterfout withdrew after initially accepting due to pressure from the players.
1902 – 1910
Like all professional leagues in the Southern Union in 1904, Topklasse adopted the Durand Rules for the 1904 season, but managed to argue against implementing the re-election process, citing the lack of teams with adequate facilities and within the country. The first draw was on Friday the 15th of April when Bos Aan Zee drew 3-all with Eikenheuvel HC by scoring three runs in the top of the 9th to level the scores.
Initially playing six times a season against each opponent (three times at home and three times away) for the first two years of the league’s existence, the member clubs elected to play each other 12 times following the implementation of the Durand Rules to minimize the impact draws would have on the league standings. This only lasted two years however, when by the end of 1905 HPHV were worried about the league growing stagnant, especially with many players leaving teams to join other leagues financially more lucrative leagues within the Southern Union. By 4 votes to 2, the owners agreed to expand the league in 1907 by 2 teams, with Atletisch Bath and SAE Zwingelspaan chosen in 1906.