Sleepwalkers Baseball began back in 1993 when a group of Szentendre teenagers & their English teacher decided they wanted to try something a bit different than the traditional Hungarian sports. Securing land in Izbeg along scenic Bukkos Creek they went about building one of the first Baseball fields in the country. Over the next 19 years they established themselves as one of the strongest clubs in all of Hungary by winning several Hungarian and Eastern European championships.
Unfortunately, as these young men get older, started families, and found jobs in Budapest; it became impossible to maintain either the field or the club in Szentendre and they decided to move their operations to Southeast Budapest.
Evolution of new sleepwalkers
Szentendre was now left with a scenic and historic baseball field but no team to play on it. By chance a local transplant from California was out throwing the ball around with his 8 year old son on the empty field and one of the men that had helped with the formation of the team back in 1993 asked if his son & he would be interested in playing and coaching the remaining 6 players from the Sleepwalker’s youth team.
It wasn’t a great situation since there was virtually zero equipment and no longer any backstop netting. The perimeter fencing, the dugouts, and the field itself were in & continue to be in terrible condition. Things began to improve though as we held ‘baseball’ gym classes at Szentendre’s nine local schools. Word began to spread and soon there were two other Americans that came to help with additional players and connections that helped us both begin the slow & costly renovations to the field and secure desperately needed bats, balls, gloves, bases, and uniforms. The Orioles Advocates Charitable Association which is allied with the Baltimore Orioles MLB club has provided two shipments of needed items but we have to cover the shipping costs. Contributions for both this and field repair continue to be desperately needed.
We want to give there kids a chance to enjoy the game and we’ve had some success. Three of our youth players were selected to make trips to Poland and the Netherlands to represent Team Hungary in European competition sponsored by the International Little League Association in the past two years and we’ve grown from those 7 players in 2013 to a roster of 33 as of the start of the 2017 season. We hope to be at 55 by the 2018 season and 0ver 100 & five different age group baseball/softball teams by 2021.
There is still much to be done. Baseball receives little support in Hungary and it is nearly impossible to attract kids that are already playing either Soccer, Water Polo, or Team Handball year round. Most clubs operate year round and the thought of ‘Seasonal’ sports and the benefits of cross-training are only recently taking root. By far most sports funding goes to the above sports and there are long term plans to close the baseball field (one of only five in Hungary) turn it into another Soccer complex. We are looking for any type of individual or corporate support to make this historic Szentendre Baseball field a home for the next generation of Sleepwalkers.
With your help we could continue to build the Szentendre Sleepwalkers into one of the preeminent clubs in Hungary. Six months ago the International Olympic Organization reinstated baseball and girls fast-pitch softball to the programs in 2020 and 2024. With Budapest bidding on the 2024 Olympics (against Los Angles and Paris) and the IOC’s stated commitment to return the Olympics to mid-size cites we all wish the Hungarian Olympic Committee well with their bid.
One thing obviously overlooked though (since Baseball was only added recently) is a truly first class Baseball venue. Szentendre with regular water taxis from Budapest, the terminus of the HEV suburban rail line, its Riverside cafes, great restaurants, and existing baseball field a pleasant 20 minute walk up scenic Bukkos Creek; IMHO…..you couldn’t offer a more perfect spot to enjoy a cold beer, a few hot dogs
The Hungarian Baseball League
As the Hungarian Baseball league grew (along with neighboring leagues in Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, & The Czech Republic they realized the need to train new young players in what can be one of the most complex & mentally challenging of all sports.
Baseball, above all other sports, draws so many fans with an analytical mindset. The basics of Soccer, Water Polo, and Team Handball can be taught in the matter of minutes. With Baseball; it sometimes takes watching three full 9-inning games before even getting to the “Infield Fly Rule”. That just the situational ‘THINKING’ part; add in the training it takes to hit a ball that is less than a third the size of a Handball, traveling in excess of 140kph AND, in the hands of a talented pitcher, can suddenly break 25cm either left or right it often transcends even the most phenomenal of athletic talents.
Thus started the Youth Leagues in Hungary. Currently there are twelve clubs sponsoring various teams in NBI, NBII, NBIII-Adult Amateur (ages 14+), Fast-Pitch Softball, Slow-Pitch Softball, T-Ball (ages 5-9), MINORS (8-12), MAJORS (9-13), JUNIORS/BIG-LEAGUE (13-18).
Our goal with the Sleepwalkers is to instill an attitude of teamwork among our young players. Though having a couple players that can throw the ball extremely hard and accurately is important; you can not win consistently in baseball with just one or two ‘star’ players. Everyone has a role and it does little good to have one player that can hit the ball a ‘country-mile’ unless there are many others that can get on base by singles, bunts, & walks. With three American born coaches we also encourage the use of English. Baseball has it’s own ‘lingo’ and it doesn’t translate well into Hungarian. What does translate well? As an American that grew up playing 5 different sports, the first thing I noticed was how Hungarian are World Champions as sports that involve throwing round objects accurately at very high speeds. Take that talent to Baseball and just perhaps there will be Professional & University scouts coming here in search of kids that can throw a ball 18.4 meters at 150KPH and hit a target not more that 8cm in diameter (a skill that a US University would gladly offer 4 years of paid education for and just about any MLB club is paying about 1 billion a year for that kind of talent right now).
2017 Senior World Championship
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of association football and rugby football. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869, between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules based on the association football rules of the time. During the latter half of the 1870s, colleges playing association
football switched to the Rugby Union code, which allowed carrying the ball. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football”, established the snap, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football.