Sergio Gregorio Flanegin
- Bats Right, Throws Right
OF-1B Dè Flanegin has played for overtwo decades in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.
Flanegin played in his native Aruba through 1991. In 1992, he came to the mainland Netherlands and played in Eerste Klasse in baseball and the softball Hoofdklasse (with the Antillian Stars). He remained a baseball-softball player in 1993, hitting .391 and slugging .477 in his baseball Hoofdklasse debut with the Hoofddorp Pioniers. That was his last season playing both sports.
In 1994, Flanegin fell to .277/?/.361 but he rebounded to .341/?/.474 in 1995. He hit .358 and slugged .515 in 1996, with 29 RBI in 33 games for the Pioniers. The next year, he batted .364, slugged .608 and blasted eight homers in 37 games. He hit .353 with four runs and five RBI in four games in the Holland Series to help the Pioniers take the title.
Dè hit .352 and slugged .506 in 1998, with 45 RBI in 43 games. In '99, he batted .381 and slugged .597 with eight home runs and 45 RBI in 45 games. During the 2002 season, Flanegin ranked among the Hoofdklasse leaders in hits (50, 9th). In 2003, the Aruban batsman hit .313 (9th in the league between Jurjan Koenen and Jermaine Esprit) with 51 hits (tying Glenn Romney for 7th) and 34 RBI (second-best, three behind leader Jeffrey Cranston).
During 2004, Flanegin tied for 6th in the league in hits (45, tied with Johnny Balentina, Michael Duursma and Ronald Jaarsma), tied for 6th triples (3, tied with Sidney de Jong and Melfried Comenencia) and again was second in RBI (38, trailing only Greg Halman).
The Santa Cruz native hit .273/.354/.350 for the 2005 Pioniers. His 24 RBI still tied Duursma for 6th in the loop and he tied for ninth with eight doubles. In 2006, Dè batted .260/.350/.327 in the regular season and .260/.251/.260 with four RBI in five games in the 2006 Holland Series. His .995 fielding percentage at first base was second among the league's starters. His 31 RBI tied Yuji Nerei for third behind Raily Legito and Tjerk Smeets.
Flanegin hit .269/.374/.328 with 30 RBI in 37 games in the 2007 Hoofdklasse season. He batted .444 in the playoffs as they upset Neptunus to advance. His .989 fielding at first ranked second behind fellow old-timer Jeffrey Verbij. He was 8th in the league (and first on his team) in RBI. His 23 walks tied Denny Beljaards for ninth-best. In the 2007 Holland Series, he was only 2 for 13 with two walks, one run and one RBI. He made two major defensive mistakes. In game two, with a 3-2 lead in the 9th, his throw home to get Beljaards was wide to allow the tying run to score; the Pioniers lost in extra innings to Kinheim. In game three, with a 1-1 tie, he inexplicably lost track of the number of outs and rolled the ball back to the pitcher, letting Verbij score the go-ahead run. The Pioniers wound up being swept in three games.
Sergio hit .331/.430/.476 in 2008. He drove in 27 runs in 35 games. The 35-year-old ranked among the league's leaders in average (8th, between Dirk van 't Klooster and Smeets), slugging (9th, between Legito and Fausto Alvarez), OBP (tied for 8th with Beljaards) and home runs (3, tied for 8th with Martijn Meeuwis, Legito, Randy Daal and Petr Baroch).
Flanegin retired after 2008 (having considered doing so after 2007) but returned as a player-coach for the Pioniers in 2010. He went 3 for 5 with two walks and a double in the 2010 European Cup. The veteran was picked as the starting DH for the South in the first Hoofdklasse All-Star Game. He hit .317/.391/.488 in 16 games in 2010. In 2011, he faded to .263/.344/.351 as a starter. He was 3 for 13 in the 2011 Holland Series, which the Pioniers lost to the Amsterdam Pirates.
During 2012, the 40-year-old eked out a .243/.351/.261 line with only two extra-base-hits (both doubles) in 33 games. Early in 2013, he appeared in his 692nd game for the Pioniers, a Hoofdklasse record. Jurjan Koenen had played the most games (691) for a single team (HCAW) previously.
The Pioniers would later retire his number 30.