Today Jonathan Schoop becomes an MLB All Star. Playing in just his third full season in the bigs Schoop’s was named as a reserve to the American League roster.
Born and raised in Curacao Jonathan is the go-to second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. He played on the Dutch national team during the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics and is the sole representative from Baltimore in this year's All Star Game. Baseball EBSM caught up with Schoop on the road for a chat following a home game in June.
You started out in Willemstad, a pretty big baseball hotspot. When did you catch the baseball fever?
When I was three years old. Since I was a boy I would either play baseball or soccer. So I played baseball since I was 3 or 4. And, since then, I kept playing until I'm here.
When did you choose baseball over soccer?
When I was 13 or 14.
What helped you make that final decision?
Everybody, my coach, everybody told me that baseball is for you instead of soccer. You can go farther with baseball where you can make a life of it.
What was your soccer position?
I played striker.
You were in the Little League World Series in 2003 and 2004. Tell us about going to Williamsport.
It was awesome. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, going in 2003 and winning in 2004. It's amazing you know [we’re] like this small country and everybody is going to see us on the map and win it all. It's amazing.
What was the celebration like when you got home?
It was crazy. The parade right away, oh yeah, everybody I knew was there. It's like we don't even know what we did. You know what it mean? Like you do something big. Fine. It was really good. It was special for us.
You and Manny Machado are both infielders that came up with the Orioles at short. You were competing for the same spot but you also became really good friends. How did that happen?
In spring training we ran into each other. He was playing 60 minutes shortstop. I was playing 60 minutes DH then we switched and it was amazing. He's competitive but we help each other out. It never was like, ‘He's going to take my job.’ ‘I'm going to take his job.’ We work hard and learn from each other and try to be better. That's how we play, that's how we finished up with him playing third and then I moved to second. Then we became really good friends.
You were on the 2013 and 2017 Dutch national teams for the World Baseball Classic taking 4th place each time. A lot of the players came out of Curacao. What has been the reaction with the team doing so well?
Good. Good baseball players in Curacao. We've been close, you know, and we got pretty good. The reaction I guess is fun. You grow up with those guys and now I'm back with them. You know it's a really fun tournament. So here we are back with the guys and having fun and representing our country.
One of those guys was your big brother. He’s in the minors. What about your relationship with him? How often do you see each other?
We live together. He's in double A [Bowie Baysox], which is like 20 minutes from here. So it's right we live in the same house together. It's good.
He’s older but you’re in the majors. Who gives the advice?
You know its like he gave me advice, I give him advice. Just because he's in the minors and I'm in the big leagues doesn't mean he can't say something. Even you could say something right now that could help me out. But just because you told me doesn't mean I'm going to listen. I might take your opinion and see if it's good or not. I'm open-minded. Everybody can talk with me. And I will see if it helps. If it doesn't I flush it out. We bulk up with each other and try to help each other out.
You have a really positive attitude. No matter the score you seem to be having a good time on the field, smiling and interacting with the fans between innings. Where does that come from?
You've got to have a short memory. I want to because you can't let one at bat ruin your whole day. You get paid three times, four times to come up. If you hit a big home run, you're the hero. In baseball, it's fun. I learned to have fun with this game and it will treat you right in return. Just because I'm 0-2 with a strikeout doesn't mean I have to be mad at somebody. It's a different chance all the time. And I got to go play defense. I can't let my batting ruin my defense. I have to separate my bat from my defense. I have to remember all those things. And I can't treat the fans badly because I'm doing bad.
What do you think can be done to increase baseball’s influence in places like Curacao and the Netherlands?
I think it's a lot of players coming out now. A lot of scouts go down there and watch the play. I think more benefits, like better stadiums. You know more. Maybe more games become standard, play some exhibition games down there. It would help a lot.
You're doing pretty well this year. Nearly all of your numbers are up. You're getting more walks as well. What’s the reason?
I want to get better. I think every day, every day you get better every year. I want to be able to play better than last year. I've got more experience now, and more game plans. You know I know what they're trying to do with me. I knew before but now I really know myself better. I want to be better. I know they pitch around because I'm an aggressive hitter. Sometimes I try to be patient you know and sometimes I'm still aggressive. But I want to be better than I was last year.
Do you miss anything from Curacao?
I miss everybody from Curacao. I miss my mom, my dad, my brothers, friends. I miss the beach. I miss everybody down there. You know. Everything. But it's all good.
You or The Yard [Camden], what looks best at 25?
I do. (He said with a laugh)
Anything for the kids back in Curacao?
You know have fun. Have fun. Have fun with the game no matter if you lose or win. Leave everything out there. Play hard, have fun, there's always a chance. Just because you play bad today doesn't mean you won't play tomorrow. Every day is a chance. Have fun, play hard and you will be a success.