April 25th, 2023
Documentary series Homerun Curaçao explores secret behind success
Watch the trailer here.
Amsterdam, April 25th, 2023 – There are currently seven baseball players from the Kingdom of the Netherlands playing in the world’s premier professional league, the Major League Baseball (MLB). It is no coincidence that as many as five of them are from Curaçao, the country that proportionally contributes the most players to the MLB. In the new documentary series ‘Homerun Curaçao’ by Omroep ZWART and producer IDTV, director Safi Graauw explores in three episodes why the island proves such fertile ground for the best baseball players in the world. On May 3rd, 2023 at 9:45 PM, the first episode can be viewed on NPO 3 and NPO Start.
How did Curaçao, an island comparable in size to a city like Amersfoort, come to be purveyor to the MLB? That is the central question in Omroep ZWART’s latest TV show. Is it because of the island’s unique location? The rugged terrain? Or because of the lack of better opportunities for youth? There was no single explanation, says director Safi Graauw. “It’s a combination of factors. For the answer, you have to look at the lives and dreams of Curaçaoans.”
A new and comprehensive story about Curaçao
Baseball proved for Graauw to be the perfect key to unlock the island. Besides being a series about baseball, Homerun Curaçao is also about chasing dreams and the dedication that comes with it. With poetic style, the director draws viewers into his story, which is filled with colorful and scenic images. “I am extremely proud that as a cinematographer I can do justice to the Caribbean island in my own style and show its community for what it is: open, driven, grateful and loyal.”
“We feel it is very important to give people a complete picture of Curaçao,” says Gianni Lieuw-A-Soe, general director of ZWART. He says that is why the broadcasting company was interested in the documentary and partnered with producer IDTV, who came up with the initial idea for the series. ZWART then commissioned Graauw to further develop the concept.
Greater than Formula 1
“These baseball players sometimes perform even greater than well-known soccer players or Formula 1 drivers,” Lieuw-A-Soe continues. According to the general manager, it is therefore time to shine light on the success stories from the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom. “This documentary tells a new story about Curaçao, and talks with the people, instead of about them. This makes Homerun Curaçao enriching compared to the usually one-dimensional coverage of the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.”
“Young talents from the island are signed by American teams for $125,000 to $1.6 million,” says Ellen Danhof, managing producer at IDTV. “It makes every Curaçaoan proud to be part of this success. With this series, we take a closer look at both the international success stories of the baseball stars and the local lives of their families and communities. This way, we gradually uncover the secret and undiscovered talent of Curaçao.”
Godfather of baseball on Curaçao
One of the people followed most closely by the documentary is Hensley “Bambam” Meulens, coach of the Dutch national team during the past Baseball World Cup and coach of the Colorado Rockies. When he was growing up, soccer was still the most popular sport on the island. Graauw says, “So as a kind of Godfather, he was really a pioneer of baseball on Curaçao.”
The three-part documentary follows longtime baseball stars such as Jurickson Profar, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius, as well as up-and-coming players such as 15-year-old Clay Winklaar. “Together with their friends, I visited the beaches where they used to dive off the cliffs together. Reliving these memories, you start to notice that – even though one is a multimillionaire and another is not – you don’t need much to be happy on Curaçao,” the director concludes.
About Homerun Curaçao
Homerun Curaçao aired three Wednesdays at 9:45 PM on NPO 3 and NPO Start, from May 3rd, 2023. The series can also be viewed in its entirety on NPO Plus.
Photo: Berber van Beek