First ten years

History of the Zeister Slot Tournament.

The first 10 years. (Long read)

Written by Evert Achterberg

In 1983 the first men’s softball team of Phoenix  became champion of the Netherlands.
This, in combination with the centenary of the club, means that during the Whitsun weekend of 1984 a three-day “fast-pitch” men’s softball tournament will be organized. With the help of the American air force base in Soesterberg and supported by advertisers, it is possible to complete the organization.

9 – 11 June 1984 Centennial Tournament
The first tournament, then called “Centennial Tournament”, has some starting problems. The Zweibrucken team has a no-show and the KNBSB will remove a number of referees at the last moment. The teams will be received at the Zeister Slot on Friday evening. Winner in this first is the team of Ramstein Rams, with pitcher Jeff Keppner who throws the balls with 150 km / h over the plate. Rhein-Main Rockets and Schweinfurt were second and third. The Bentwater Phantoms led by Earl Hicks are named the most popular team.

25 – 27 May 1985
In 1985, at the request of the participants, the tournament formula was slightly adjusted.  The tournament is opened by the Zeister sportswoman of the year Leontien van de Lienden. Winner of this tournament will be the team of Rhein-Main Rockets, who won the game from Bentwater Phantoms with a 7-2 score in the final. The team from the Canadian base in Lahr (D) is third.

17 – 19 May 1986 3rd Zeister Slot Tournament
In 1986 the hegemony of the Bentwaters Phantoms starts. Under the leadership of Earl Hicks, the exchange cup made available by the municipality of Zeist will be won. The losers in this final are the Alconbury Spartans. Third are the Rhein-Main Rockets. Phoenix does not participate this year and will be replaced by the Rayon team from Central Netherlands. This year the tournament will also receive its current name Zeister Slot Tournament.

6 – 8 June 1987 4th Zeister Slot Tournament
After three sun-drenched tournaments the weather did not work in 1987. A cloudburst in the night from Saturday to Sunday turns the fields into one large swimmingpool. Even with the aid of a pump from the Zeister fiirefighters, the field can no longer be made playable.
From the Utrechts Nieuwsblad of 9 June 1987: “The softball fields of Phoenix ZC were desolate yesterday. The three-day international softball tournament ended in an anti-climax due to the wet weather of Whit Monday. ”
Despite the bad weather there was again a champion, for the second time in a row this was Bentwaters Phantoms. Just like last year followed by Alconbury Spartans and Rhein-Main Rockets.

21 – 23 May 1988 5th Zeister Slot Tournament
The fifth tournament is won for the third time in a row by the Bentwaters Phantoms. The first challenge cup will disappear to England for good. Rhein-Main Rockets are second and for the first time a European team, the Netherlands, becomes third. During this tournament a camera crew of AFN Television is present. This TV station of the American Armed Forces provides a broadcast of a few minutes on the Wednesday after the tournament. The writing press also shows a large interest, which only benefits the familiarity of the tournament.

13 – 15 May 1989 6th Zeister Slot Tournament
In 1989 there was the first not entirely American final. The Dutch team finishes first in the half competition. In the finals, however, they are 4 – 2 away against Bentwaters Phantoms. New this year is the Wall of Fame. People can be immortalized on this, which are or have been of great significance for the Zeister Slot Tournament. The first four people included in the Wall of Fame are: Jim Goins, Puck de Haan, Earl Hicks and Larry Moore. This is the last tournament on the old complex. The fields undergo a thorough renovation, which takes more time than expected.

2 – 4 June 1990 7th Zeister Slot Tournament
That by this renovation the tournament of 1990 would be in danger, nobody can imagine at that moment. Because there is too late sowing, the grass is not strong enough to play on at the official opening of the complex. A number of growing weeks and strict rules where things may and may not be run still give permission to play. The tournament itself is one of the most exciting to date. The Central Netherlands team is beaten 4 – 3 in the final by the team of Bentwaters Phantoms. Third is the team of International All Stars. Phoenix ends faithfully last. Baron Schlegel and Henk van Zijtveld are placed in the Wall of fame.

18 – May 20, 1991 8th Zeister Slot Tournament
In 1991 the Zeister Slot Tournament has a first; the bus from Prague brings us the national youth selection of this country in addition to the national team of Czechoslovakia. The team will finish sixth under the name Little Lions, after victories over Borgerhout Squirrels from Belgium and Phoenix. Again the final between Bentwaters Phantoms and Central Netherlands. By a 7 – 4 victory, the Bentwaters Phantoms also take the second challenge cup. For a number of years, a badge is issued to the volunteers and players of the Zeister Slot Tournament. Jan Pors gets a place in the Wall of Fame.
From the Utrechts Nieuwsblad of 21 May 1991: “The finale did not attract so many public. Around  two hundred people were nearly muttered by the carving wind along the line. The organization had done everything to make the weather favorable, but even the opening on Saturday by weatherman Peter Timofeef turned out to be no guarantee for sunshine ”
The Nieuwsbode of 30 May 1991 was able to announce the following: “In the Whitsun weekend more than two thousand hamburgers and hot dogs were prepared in the bakery tent …”

6 – 8 June 1992 9th Zeister Slot Tournament
This is the year in which the hegemony of the bentwaters Phantoms is ended. In this rain-torn tournament many of the participants are required. This tournament is one that is allowed in terms of excitement. The Netherlands wins all its group matches and is therefore certainly of a final place. Bentwaters Phantoms is played out and with only four wins it only has a chance to win a final place when Lahr Select loses from Czechoslovakia. Lahr Select loses due to an error by the pitcher. In the final, Bentwaters Phantoms is not up to the Dutch team. The third municipal challenge cup is won by a 9 – 2 victory by the first European winner of the tournament, the Netherlands.

29 – 31 May 1993 10th Zeister Slot Tournament
The tenth tournament is organized with 9 teams, including the national selection of Israel. The team of Bentwaters Phantoms still under the leadership of Earl Hicks is so weakened by all removals and cuts that it does not go beyond eighth place. In the final, the later European champion, the Netherlands, loses 10 – – of the Canadian Selects. The Czech Republic is third. Phoenix ends in an honorable sixth place. This year, Ton Siedsma and Kristina Graafstal will be honored with a place in the Wall of Fame.