Paul Spoelders

From BR Bullpen

Paul Spoelders was a long-time star in Belgium.

He played for Belgium in the 1984 World Junior Championship. [1] He was an outfielder on the Belgian national team in the 1986 Amateur World Series. [2] Belgian First Division stats are first available online for 1988 (as of 8/27/23). That year, he hit .458/.524/.718 with 12 steals in 13 tries for the Mortsel Stars and was 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA. He led the league in runs (54, four ahead of Rudi Brouwers), was 4th in average, led in hits, tied for second in RBI (46), had the most doubles (17), tied for third in dingers (6), was second in total bases (102), tied for 7th in steals, tied for 8th in walks (23), tied Albert De Lannoy for 5th in slugging, was third in wins, ranked 4th in K (80) and was second in ERA behind Willem Van Walraven. [3]

He had a 11-6, 5.56 record in '89 and batted .490/.520/.685, finishing among the leaders in ERA (10th), wins (1st), whiffs (124, 2nd, 25 behind Frank Mathys), runs (55, 1st, 2 ahead of Oswald Boermans), hits (70, 1st, 14 ahead of De Lannoy), RBI (44, tied Frank Van Droogenbroeck for second, 3 behind De Lannoy), doubles (15, 2nd, one behind De Lannoy), total bases (98, 2nd, 16 behind De Lannoy), steals (10, tied for 4th), average (1st) and slugging (5th).

In 1990, he was 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA for the Antwerp Eagles and hit an impressive .543/.600/1.099. He tied for the most runs (39), led in hits (44), was third in doubles (8), was 4th in home runs (11), was second in total bases (89), tied for 7th in steals (6), led in average (by .001!) and was third in slugging. The next season, he produced at a .460/.537/.655 clip as Antwerp won the title. He was 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. Only Mathys had a better ERA among those with double-digit innings, though Spoelders did not pitch enough to qualify. He was among the leaders in average (tied for 5th), runs (33, tied for 9th), hits (40, tied for 10th), RBI (32, 7th), doubles (9, tied for 6th) and slugging (8th).

Spoelders moved to the Brasschaat Braves in 1992 and helped them win their first title, going 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA (his last season on the hill) and hitting .430/.505/.872. He was 9th in average, 4th in slugging, tied for 6th in runs (35), tied Donald Vertommen for 6th in hits (37), was 3rd in RBI (38), ranked second in doubles (11, one behind Karl Onzia), tied Robert De Boey and Ronald Tiliakos for second in triples (3), hit the 4th-most dingers (7) and was 4th in total bases (75). Among the Braves with 10+ innings, only former major leaguer Joel McKeon and Peter Van Walraven had better ERAs. In '93, he helped power the Braves to a repeat title by batting .508/.583/.1008 with 63 runs and 15 homers, going 25-for-25 in steal attempts. He led in runs (6 ahead of Peter Van Walraven), led in hits (62, 7 more than Peter Van Walraven), was second with 43 RBI (behind teammate Peter Van Walraven), tied for the most doubles (12), tied for 3rd in triples (2), was second with 15 home runs (3 behind Peter Van Walraven), led in total bases (123), led in steals (3 more than Tiliakos), was second in average (.001 behind Peter Van Walraven) and was second to Peter Van Walraven in slugging.

In the 1993 European Championship, he hit .276/.353/.276 for Belgium, handling 17 putouts error-free. He was 4-for-4 in steals and scored 7 runs in 8 games. He tied for 7th in swipes. [4] He won his fourth straight pennant in 1994, a season in which he put up a .479/.545/.802 line with 56 runs and 19 steals in 21 attempts, fielding .989. He once again led in runs (3 more than Peter Van Walraven), tied Onzia for the hit lead (58), was 5th in RBI (43), led in doubles (13, one more than Van Droogenbroeck), tied for 6th in homers (8, even with Boermans, Sven Hendrickx and Joeri Loykens), was 3rd in total bases (97), stole the second-most bases, was second to Onzia in average and was 4th in slugging (between Onzia and Roger De Saedeleer).

Paul took his 5th consecutive title (and the Braves' 4th) in 1995, hitting .516/.585/.852 with 17 steals in 18 tries, 15 doubles, 58 runs and 43 RBI. As usual, he was all over the leaderboards: runs (2nd to Edson Ludowika), hits (63, 1st, 9 more than Peter Van Walraven), RBI (6th), two-baggers (1st, 3 more than Wim Kerstens), home runs (tied Boermans for 9th with 8), total bases (tied for 2nd behind Ludowika), steals (tied De Saedeleer for second), average (2nd to Peter Van Walraven) and slugging (7th, between Kerstens and Loykens). He kept up his title run in 1996, with even better offensive numbers - .594/.632/1.019. That put him 2nd in runs (54, 9 behind Van Droogenbroeck), 1st in hits (63, 9 more than Tonny Verhaert), tied for 5th in RBI (45), 1st in doubles (15, by 3), tied for 4th in homers (10), 1st in total bases (108, 3 more than Ludowika), 4th in steals (16-for-16; everyone with more steals was caught at least once), 1st in average (.059 ahead of #2 Onzia) and 2nd in slugging (.032).

The veteran didn't miss a beat in 1997 nor did the Braves powerhouse. He hit .550 for the champs, slugged .942, had a .590 OBP, scored 55 runs, again had 15 doubles and 10 homers and was 6-for-6 in steals. He was second in runs (two shy of De Saedeleer), led in hits (66), was 5th in RBI (45), tied De Saedeleer for the double lead, tied Verhaert for 7th in circuit clouts, tied Leon Lewis for the most total bases (113), led in average by .037 and was second to Lewis in slugging. The Braves' title run ended in 1998 (as did his longer title run) but he was still solid at .513/.556/1.000 with 66 runs, 76 RBI and 18 home runs. He ranked 4th in runs, 1st with 78 hits (one more than Ludowika), was second in RBI (4 behind Ludowika), tied for 8th with 12 doubles, tied for 5th with 4 triples, was 3rd in home runs, was second to Ludowika in total bases, was second in average and 3rd in slugging.

Switching clubs again, he moved to the Borgerhout Squirrels in 1999. He batted .455/.482/1.020 with 15 long balls. He was 5th in average, tied Loykens and Van Droogenbroeck for 9th in runs (38), tied for 5th with 46 hits, trailed only Lewis and Verhaert with 47 RBI, tied for second in doubles, was second in homers (two behind Lewis), was second to Lewis in total bases and was second to Lewis in slugging. Given his continued dominance, it seems surprising he was left off Belgium's teams in 1995 and 1999 (the 1997 roster is not available online as of August 2023 nor is this writer aware of any source listing it offline).

Spoelders split 2000 between the Squirrels (.455/.526/1.030) and Antwerp Royal Greys (.400/.513/.800). He was 4th in the league with 11 homers, at least the 13th straight in which he made leaderboards. In '01, he was 5 for 10 with 3 walks in limited action for the Greys. After a year off, he returned to his longtime Braves club and batted .439/.471/.643 as they won it all. The old-timer was 4th in runs (29), was second in hits (43), was second to Lewis in RBI (31), had the 4th-most total bases (63, between Kevin Knollenburg and Verhaert) and was 4th in both average and slugging.

He then was away from the game until 2009, when he was 4 for 18 with a walk and two doubles for the Squirrels. This appears to have ended his career.


  1. 7/21/1984 issue of The Leader-Post, pg. 12
  2. Defunct IBAF site
  3. Belgian Baseball and Softball Federation (all Belgian stats cited are from this source)
  4. Internet Archive, 1993 European Championship