It’s time to continue my journey through the people to follow when seeking out unaffiliated baseball coverage. This time out the area of play in question is Europe. There are a lot of baseball happenings throughout Europe. Baseball has become a sport on the rise in the majority of European countries. Being on the rise doesn’t automatically equate to professional leagues though. The majority of baseball leagues in Europe exist at the amateur level. Whether we’re talking the many leagues of Great Britain or the relatively few of the Ukraine the leagues are amateur.
There’s nothing wrong with amateur leagues, but that’s not an area of baseball that I focus on. There are plenty of others who focus on the amateur scene in America and abroad. I don’t want to claim to have anywhere near their knowledge of that scene. For that reason, this article will only be focusing on the professional leagues of Europe. That means I will be leaving out plenty of great writers, podcasters, and personalities who are helping to bring the amateur game along in Europe. But, I don’t want to give misinformation, so the pro game is where my focus will remain because at least I know a little of what I am talking about there.
An important distinction for Europe compared to the rest of the world is how professional status is handled. The main leagues of Italy and the Netherlands are professional, but that is due more to the revenue the league is able to generate, TV exposure, attendance, etc. In terms of player contracts, some are paid. However, not all are and many are treated as amateurs. This is different from everywhere else, but it shouldn’t diminish what the leagues in Italy and the Netherlands have been able to accomplish in obtaining the degree of professionalism they have.
Extra Innings UK – @ExtraInningsUK
Gabriel Fidler is the man behind Extra Innings UK. It is an invaluable resource for European baseball. The site tends to focus more heavily on international competitions and the amateur ranks, but it will give news hits about the pro game as well. Most importantly, if you have any sort of question about baseball or softball in Europe Gabriel is the man to go to because he tends to always have the answer you’re looking for.
Mister Baseball – @MisterBaseball
This is a news aggregation site, and it will give you a mixture of amateur, pro, and international news bites. It is an important resource though because news about European leagues can fly in from anywhere so to speak. With that being the case a site like Mister Baseball becomes essential because it pools together any and all articles, news, and reports dealing with European baseball and softball.
In Italy there are two professional leagues, both using the CIB moniker, one is the top league Serie A, while the other is the minor league Serie B. These two leagues share the same website and are jointly governed by the Federation Italiana Baseball Softball.
Roberto Angotti – @ABLblogger
For official articles from FIBS the one place to turn is Angotti. He is the man who writes the overwhelming majority of stories found on the FIBS website. That means you will have to wade through plenty of articles about Team Italy in all its permutations, but he does cover the pro game in Italy as well. His Twitter feed is full of links to his stories and serves as a clearinghouse for stories about Italian baseball.
Mino Prati – @MinoPrati
Prati has been covering baseball since the 1980s. He covers amateur baseball in Italy, but he provides extensive coverage of the pro game too. Game recaps and a broader look at the league are his specialties. A trait of Prati’s is that he likes to keep things brief and he’s not one to dig too deep into the stats side of things. Still, if you’re interested in knowing more about pro baseball in Italy Prati is one of the people to look to.
No Twitter for Ravegnani and that is unfortunate because he’s one of the best writers on baseball in Italy. He also keeps his articles brief but he provides recaps of all the big CIB happenings. Strictly for following along with a league it doesn’t get much better than the coverage Ravegnani provides. He’s the equivalent to beat writers from the 1970s where he is providing the nuts and bolts of what is going on in CIB. From there people who want to dig deeper can, but only because of the base Ravegnani has constructed.
In the Netherlands, there are three professional leagues. The top league is the HH, and it is followed by two minor leagues: Honkbal Overgangsklasse and Honkbal Rookie League. The HH and HO operate under a relegation system while the HRL serves as a minor league for both the leagues above them. All three leagues are governed by Koninklijke Nederlandse Baseball en Softball Bond.
Dutch Baseball Hangout – @Dutch_ball
I’m not sure of Hangout’s real name, but that doesn’t matter. He is a treasure trove of information about current happenings in the Dutch pro leagues as well as following the careers of Dutch players in other leagues. His Twitter feed is active, and 9 times out of 10 when some sort of news breaks his feed is the place to find out what’s going on and get more details.
Pim van Nes
van Nes does not have a Twitter feed, and that is a shame because he provides great coverage. Some of his work can be found on the HH website, but the majority of his work can be found on Baseball Italy, where he provides detailed reports of Dutch league games. He occasionally dabbles in baseball in Italy, but he files more on Dutch baseball than anywhere else and always provides quality insights into the baseball in the Netherlands.
Seb Visser – @sebvisser34
Visser is a former player who writes for the official HH website. He covers the entirety of Dutch baseball, pro or amateur. His Twitter feed is active, and his articles provide great insight into Dutch baseball. Visser is able to blend his experience and knowledge as a former player into articles that never feel like recaps but more like stories of the ebbs and flows of a ballgame.
Research assistance provided by Gabriel Fidler of Extra Innings UK.
Lead photo courtesy of Rob Jelsma – robjelsma.nl