Perhaps the greatest exponent of the spirit and substance of the World Baseball Classic and baseball’s international appeal is not a major league star or a household name. He’s an obscure right-hander from Willemstad, Curacao, who ended his brief major league career a decade ago but keeps coming back — from baseball and this tournament.
Shairon Martis will represent the Netherlands in the 2023 World Baseball Classic as He’s done the same in previous tournaments. (His absence in 2009 had a valid reason, which we’ll get to later).
It was at the inaugural Classic in 2006 when the 18-year-old The baby-faced Mattis became the first — and so far only — pitcher to throw a no-hitter. After all these years, the soon-to-be 36-year-old Mattis is still relishing the opportunity to make his mark on this important international stage.
“To me it’s like going to the big leagues for a month ,” he said by phone from the Netherlands before heading out for the classic. “I’m really looking forward to it because it’s one of the biggest games in baseball and it means a lot to my career.”
The Netherlands, who have advanced to the semi-finals of the past two Classics, will play Group A in Taiwan against Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy and Panama. On Wednesday, think of Mattis as a solid veteran.
“He knows where he is,” said Dutch manager Hensley Mullens said. “He knows he’s not going to be a major league star, but he still has what it takes to play at a high level, play and stay in shape. He gives you everything he has. That’s what makes him special.”
Growing up in Curacao, the Dutch Caribbean, Martis was raised by a My cousin introduced me to baseball. After the game one day, his coach found 7-year-old Martis and asked him if he would like to participate.
Martis remembers looking up at his father, waiting for a response.
“He didn’t ask me,” said his dad, “He asked You.”
Young Martis goes all-in. By the age of nine, he had retuned his dream of becoming the next Andrew Jones (a fellow Curacao) and moved to the mound. At 15, he played in the Latin American showcase in Panama, where he first caught the attention of major league scouts. At 16, he was signed by the Giants after a tryout.
Luckily, the first World Baseball Classic appeared in Mattis as The formative years of a professional pitcher. He eagerly embraced the opportunity to represent his home island and the wider Dutch nation…and ran with it.
“After our [first round] loss to Puerto Rico, the manager sent me Pulling aside and saying, ‘Shai, you’re pitching against Panama tomorrow,'” he recalls. “I didn’t even know, but I said, ‘Okay, fine.'”
The result is very good.
At the Estadio Hiram Bithorn in San Juan, Mattis played against Orlando The Panama lineup of Miller and Carlos Lee allowed six innings, while the Dutch lineup provided 10 assists.
“He just sweeps among them,” Meulens said, “They can’t get Clear him.”
After Mathis hit base in the sixth inning, Baller Sidney DeJong looked up at the scoreboard and realized aloud, “Damn it, you’re pitching a no-hitter!” “
“You can’t say that! ” was an immediate response in the dugout.
As long as Holland keeps its 10-run past seven Points, the game will be played on run point rules. So Martis can do a good job of what he started.
Just one question: Mattis threw 57 pitches, tops 65 first round starters.
“I said to myself,” he recalled, “‘Shai, you’ve got to finish this inning with less than nine balls. ‘”
His first ball went left. The next hitter’s third pitch led to a triple error, allowing a runner to come in. Then, facing pinch hitter César Quintano, Martis sparked a ground-ball double with his 65th and final pitch, Thus retaining his place in classic history.
“When I return to When the Giants were in spring training, the team I was training with walked around me and gave me a big round of applause,” Mattis said. “That’s when I thought, ‘Damn it, Shai, you Really did a great job. ‘”
was traded to the Nationals by the Giants a few months later, for Coming off veteran backup Mike Stanton, Mattis moved to the organization where he would make his major league debut in 2008. In 2009, he had a legitimate chance to crack the Nats’ Opening Day roster.