I had gotten to know John Holdzkom after he was picked up by the Pirates from indy ball. Part of his story includes a stint playing baseball with his brother Lincoln in New Zealand. Thanks to their father’s Kiwi heritage, they were eligible to participate with their national team, the Diamondblacks.
I originally started a draft of this article over a year ago, but at the time I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in and pushed it to the back burner; However, this past weekend, Lincoln Holdzkom was tragically killed in a car accident in California at the age of 33.
Lincoln was passionate about baseball and about bringing the sport he loved to New Zealand. He was looking forward to going back and helping baseball grow in his father’s home country. Now I want to share some of that passion with my readers. Lincoln, this post is for you!
Although baseball is considered a minority sport in New Zealand, it has been gaining popularity over the last decade.
Baseball New Zealand, the governing body of the sport of baseball in New Zealand, was founded in 2002. Their membership is comprised of five Regions (Member Regions), three Baseball Associations, and eight Clubs as well as the individual members who play, coach, officiate and support Baseball in New Zealand. They have estimated that more than 5,000 individuals participate in competitive and recreational Baseball programs in various capacities around the country, and that number is growing each year.
In 2012, the Diamondblacks were invited to a regional qualifier for the World Baseball Classic for the first time. When John found out and realized that the brothers would be eligible to play, he sent off an email to Ryan Flynn, the organization’s chief executive and chief talent scout for the Diamondblacks. After seeing that John was 6’7″ with a 101 mph fastball, Flynn answered him back within 15 minutes to work out the details on bringing the brothers down under.
Lincoln, who hadn’t played professional baseball for a number of years, jumped at the chance to play for the Diamondblacks. He quit his job to be able to join the team while they trained and played in New Zealand, Australia and Taiwan.
Lincoln’s hard work, competitiveness and talent helped him become an integral part of the 2012 Diamondblacks team. He quickly became a leader and someone everyone, including the coaching staff, looked to for experience and leadership.
The 2012 team came within a game of qualifying for the main draw and are looking to go even further next year. Lincoln was expected to be the captain of the pitching staff in February’s WBC qualifier in Sydney.
In an article with Baseball New Zealand, Diamondblacks’ manager, Chris Woodward, called Lincoln Holdzkom the “heart and soul” of the team’s pitching staff.
“This is a huge loss for the Holdzkom family, for so many who have known and loved Lincoln, and of course for our baseball community in New Zealand,” Flynn said from New York earlier today. “Lincoln cared as much as anyone in the program about the health of the sport in our country, its growth and success, and he took a great deal of pride in wearing the black and white of New Zealand and being a Diamondblack. He was a role model for our younger players, especially on the pitching staff. Lincoln Holdzkom will always be an important member of Baseball New Zealand’s past, present and future.”
The team plans to honor Lincoln in various ways during the WBC qualifiers and beyond.
I would like to offer my condolences to John, the entire Holdzkom family, the New Zealand baseball community, and everyone that Lincoln has touched in some way. Rest in peace, Lincoln. #KiwiPrideWorldWide