Huskies de Rouen
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The Rouen Baseball 76 is a French professional baseball team. Founded in 1986, the team competes in the top league in France. The Huskies home stadium is Terrain Pierre Rolland, located in the capital city of Normandy, Rouen. Rouen has won 10 French Championships in the last 12 years, establishing itself as one of the best teams in France. The Huskies won their tenth French title in 2013, trailing only Paris for the most titled team in French history. Rouen is currently ranked as the number 17 team in Europe.
- Champion of France: 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- Winner of Challenge of France: 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013
- Finalist in the Euro Cup (group A): 2007, 2012
- European Final 4: 2012
- European ranking (created in 2007): 2007-4th; 2008-10th; 2009-4th; 2010-14th; 2011-15th; 2012-7th; 2013-12th, 2014-17th
The club was founded by Pierre Yves Rolland, Xavier Rolland, Marcel Brihiez and Charles Michel Do Marcolino in March 1986.
Xavier Rolland has served as president of the club since its inception, except for a one-year period in the 1990s when he was studying journalism in Paris. During that time, brother Pierre Yves Rolland assumed the presidency, assisted by Arnauld Lastel. Xavier's return to the team charted a new course for a team that had begun to suffer from sponsorship issues, financial problems and a lack of on-field success.
François Colombier, who joined the staff as vice-president in the mid-1990s would also be a name associated with Rouen baseball success in the ensuing years.
The Huskies first game was played versus the neighboring town Bois-Guillaume. Initially, all home games were played on Lacroix Island in the middle of the famous Seine River which splits the city of Rouen. In 1987, the Huskies moved to new and improved facilities in the St Exupéry area. It is here that the club remains to this day. In early 1987, the first home game against Caen only drew 700 fans, but its live broadcast on regional news channel France 3 Normandy made it the first baseball game ever televised in France. Terrain Pierre-Rolland was upgraded following the 2012 season and now features 300 individual seats, a pressbox and concession stand. The field dimensions are 325 feet down the lines and 390 feet to center field with a field turf infield and natural grass outfield.
In March 2014, the club opened a new state of the art indoor batting cage complex adjacent to Terrain Pierre-Rolland. MLB's baseball tomorrow fund contributed over $150,000 towards the project which allows for the team to train year round.
The Huskies home uniforms look similar to those of a legendary American League team, the New York Yankees, white with pinstripes. Their away uniforms are navy blue and red. Rouen wears New Era caps and is sponsored by the Italian company, Macron.
Pitchers Keino Perez and Robin Roy rank first and second for career wins with the club. Roy, originally from Quebec, arrived in Rouen in 1991 and with the team as either player or coach until 2014. Perez, from Venezuela, has been a key starting pitcher for Rouen since 2005. In 2012 he was named manager, replacing Roy, while still pitching for the Huskies.
Outfielder Kenji Hagiwara attended Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona before returning to Rouen. He has won ten French championships along with infielder Luc Piquet and long-time catcher and captain Boris Marche.
Rouen outfielder Joris Bert became the first French player drafted by an MLB team (the Los Angeles Dodgers) in 2007. Bert, a speedy outfielder with good power, was released by Los Angeles in 2009, but not before paving the way for other French players to make their mark outside of France.
Infielder Maxime Lefevre followed in Hagiwara's footsteps, also attending Cochise Junior College in 2011 and 2012. He has been Rouen's and the National team's starting shortstop/third baseman since 2010. In 2013 he played with the Quebec Capitales of the CAN-AM League, before returning to Rouen for the 2014 season.
In 2011 Owen Ozanich, the first and only French-born player to play NCAA Division 1 baseball, joined Rouen where he has played ever since. In the 2011-12 and 2012-13 off-seasons Ozanich played in Australia where he was called up to the ABL's Adelaide Bite in January 2012. In September 2012 he started France's second game in the 2012 World Baseball Classic Qualifier against South Africa throwing three no hit innings. In March of 2015 Ozanich was named to the European All-Star team which travelled to Japan to face world number 1 Samurai Japan in a two game series at the Tokyo Dome.
Left handed pitcher Alexandre Roy signed with the Seattle Mariners organisation in 2012 at age 16. He received the largest signing bonus ever for a French born player when he signed for approximately 150,000 USD. He spent three seasons (2012-2014) in rookie ball before being released.
Success of the 2000s
In 2001, the team is entrusted to manager Sylvain Virey. Many new faces join veterans Robin Roy and Yann Monnet. The team starts well, but is devastated when Québécois Joce Blais leaves Rouen to sign a pro contract with the Quebec Capitales in the middle of the season. His replacement, American Andy Justice, immediately provides the spark the club needed. The club dominates Division 2. Robin Roy pitches Rouen past Cherbourg on his way to being named MVP. The Huskies are now once again promoted to Division 1. In the fall, "baby baseball" and mixed softball are promotions rolled out to generate interest in the game.
In 2002, The Huskies returned to glory under the direction of new head coach Patrice Plante. Rouen recorded a 29-1 record during the French regular season. The club also took home the inaugural Challenge of France with a victory over Paris Université Club. This victory qualified the club for the Euro Cup which would take place in Barcelona the following June. Rouen lost the French Championship to rival Savigny, however.
Following the conclusion of the 2002 season, Rouen GM Xavier Rolland replaced Plante with a new head coach, Christian Chénard, a native of Quebec, who arrived in Rouen in March 2003. That summer, once again competing in the Challenge of France, the Huskies recorded two easy victories against Guerche (17-1) and Cherbourg (15-1). The club then proceeded to beat Montpellier 5-0 before finally losing to Savigny 4-2. President Rolland recruited Andre Tremblay to bolster the team pitching staff in preparation for its first Euro Cup, held in Barcelona, however the Huskies finished sixth in the tournament. Back in France, a doubleheader split against Montpellier ensured a second consecutive first place regular season finish. The Huskies beat Paris in the semi-finals before facing rival Savigny in championship series. Rouen finally beat Savigny and claimed its first title. The Huskies were now the top team in France.
In 2004, the club won the European B Cup (a lesser competition compared to the A Cup), but failed to defend its title as French champions.
In 2005, the Huskies were led by pitcher Keino Perez of Venezuela and they claimed their second French championship while also finishing second in the Challenge de France.
In 2006, Huskies won a second Euro B Cup while also preserving their title of champion of France. The team finished 27-5 in the regular season before beating Savigny and Toulouse to claim the championship. The French title along with the successful Euro B Cup result will allow Rouen to participate in the 2007 Euro A Cup.
On June 16, 2007 the Huskies reached the championship game of the Euro A Cup against the Dutch squad Kinhiem. In a hard fought game, the Huskies lose 3-1 in what remains the furthest a French team has ever gone in Europe. Rouen is the first non-Italian/non-Dutch team since 1976 to reach the tournament final. Rouen came back to France with great confidence, won the Challeng de France and finished the regular season in first place with a 20-4 record. They ousted Montpellier and Senart to become the undisputed top club in France and one of the top 10 clubs in Europe. Their pitching staff, led once again by Roy and Perez, dominated French batters.
A Huskies Dynasty
The 2008 season ends with a 22-6 second place regular season finish for Rouen. The 2009 season saw the Huskies finish the regular season 25-3 and in first place. Catcher and now captain Boris Marche, the youngest ever French National Team player, led the team to another French championship, this time over rival Savigny. In the 2010 season, the final one on the mound for Robin Roy, ended with a 17-7 regular season record and a seventh championship for the Huskies. Roy finished his career as probably the best pitcher in French history. Canadian infielder Aaron Hornostaj and newly acquired French pitcher Anthony Piquet also stepped up with great seasons.
In 2011, Roy retired as a player and took over as head coach of the Huskies, replacing Francois Colombier. After a relatively rough start to the season and a disappointing Euro Cup finish, American slugger Rickey Thomas and French-American pitcher Owen Ozanich helped Rouen to a sweep through the Challenge de France, going 5-0, with Jordan Crystal taking home MVP honors, Bert best hitter and Ozanich best pitcher. Rouen finished third in the regular season with a 19-9 record before finding its groove in the playoffs, ousting Toulouse, Savigny and Montpellier. Rouen was down two-games to none to Montpellier in the finals before winning three straight. President Xavier Rolland called this championship "one of the sweetest."
Rouen as a European Power
Roy's son Alexandre, who pitched sparingly for the squad in 2011, signed with the Seattle Mariners in February 2012. Alexandre became the youngest French player and the first French pitcher to sign professionally. Captain Boris Marche and longtime infielder Luc Piquet traveled to Southern Japan in March to take part in spring training with a professional team. Infielder Maxime Lefevre returned home from Cochise College in Arizona and added solid defense and speed to the lineup. Quentin Becquey and Oscar Combes rejoined the Huskies and made significant contributions to a squad which qualified for its first ever European Final 4 in Nettuno, Italy by finishing 4-1 in the Rotterdam Pool A Euro Cup.
The 2012 season was very successful for Rouen. Keino Perez took over as player-manager, replacing Roy at the helm while still contributing on the field as a starting pitcher and managing the team to a 41-6 overall record. With the help of imports Chris Mezger, Ethan Paquette, Mat Smith, along with the usual solid play from their French players, Rouen won the 2012 Challenge de France and 2012 French Championship. Owen Ozanich posted the lowest ERA in the regular season, Mezger finished first in wins and second in strikeouts while Paquette finished first in all the offensive triple crown categories, edging out teammate Luis Aponte for the batting title. Mezger was named MVP of the Challenge de France and best pitcher of the finals, while Paquette was named best hitter and MVP of the finals as Rouen topped Senart three games to one to claim its ninth French title.
In September 2012, the French National Team participated in the European Championships in the Netherlands as well as in the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. Rouen players Joris Bert, Maxime Lefevre, Boris Marche, Luc Piquet, Anthony Piquet and Owen Ozanich were on the rosters for both the European Championships and the World Baseball Classic, Keino Perez joined the six in Florida for the WBC qualifier.
The 2013 Huskies turned to Venezuelan pitcher Jose Rodriguez and French-American Owen Ozanich to anchor the pitching staff along with longtime pitcher Keino Perez and newcomer Yoann Vaugelade (2013 Finals MVP). Ozanich took home his second consecutive ERA title, also finishing 10-0 for the second consecutive season. Rodriguez shined in the playoffs when the team needed him most, and Perez was named best pitcher in the Challenge de France. Rodriguez pitched as high as AAA while Perez pitched in A ball before moving to Europe. Perez stands atop the all-time wins list in France with 105 victories and counting for the Huskies. New stadium improvements were completed and terrain Pierre Rolland now features lighting and 300 individual seats along with a snack bar for Huskies fans. Another first place finish (24-4 record) and a sweep through the Challenge de France (4-0 record) highlighted the regular season. The team finished a disappointing 1-4 in the European Cup although many key players were missing from the lineup. The offense was led by familiar names Boris Marche (2013 Challenge de France MVP), Luc Piquet, Maxime Lefevre, Mathew Smith, Oscar Combes, Kenji Hagiwara, David Gauthier, Joris Bert, Quentin Becquey and Luis Aponte. Newcomer Brian Ramirez excelled in finals, taking home the award given to the best hitter. Rouen and Senart faced off in a rematch of the 2012 D1 finals, with Rouen claiming the series 3 games to 2 to capture their 10th title. Rouen's season concluded in late September when they hosted Moscow and Antwerp in the 2014 European A Cup qualifier. Rouen won both games on their home field to remain in the 2014 A Cup. They welcomed back infielder Maxime Lefevre who spent the majority of the season in North America and won the CAN-AM title after a successful rookie season with the Quebec Capitales.
2014 saw the Huskies finished with an overall record of 28-14. However, Rouen's run as French champions came to an end. After a tough start to the regular season, the Rouen Huskies finished third at the Challenge de France with a 3-1 record. In June, they finished third in the Hoofddorp pool of the European Cup, posting a 3-2 record, with wins over Prague, Nettuno and Solingen. Venezuelan infielder Domingo Morillo and American pitcher Jason Daniels joined utility men Brian Ramirez and Jordan Rogers to fill the team's foreign slots for the 2014 season. The Huskies finished the French regular season with a 20-8 record, good for third place behind Paris and Montpellier. Capitan Boris Marche led the team in hitting, finishing with a .396 average, just ahead of Maxime Lefevre (.370) and Kenji Hagiwara (.365). On the mound, Keino Perez (6-1, 1.10 ERA), Jason Daniels (6-3, 1.78 ERA) and Owen Ozanich (4-0, 2.06 ERA) carried the pitching staff. Rouen fell to a strong Paris team in the semi-finals to snap their run as French champs. Ozanich, Lefevre, Marche, Arthur Paturel and Yoann Vaugelade represented the Huskies on the French National team at the 2014 European Championships. Huskies head coach Keino Perez was a member of the team France coaching staff.
2015 figures to see an improved Huskies team. Failing to win either the challenge or finals has Keino Perez and his players hungry to prove they still are the top team in France. Gone are position players Luis Aponte, Domingo Morillo, Brian Ramirez and Jordan Rogers. Pitchers Robin Roy and Jason Daniels have also left Rouen. Young lefty Esteban Prioul has joined the Huskies, he figures to get some innings in relief. Owen Ozanich, former single-A pitcher Jeffrey McKenzie and Keino Perez lead the pitching staff, with 19 year old Yoann Vaugelade also competing for weekend innings. An interesting player to watch in 2015 will be Chilean pitcher Pablo Ossandon. The 24 year old Ossandon comes to France after finishing a successful career with the Chilean National Team.
Bolstering the Rouen lineup in 2015 will be shortstop Larry Infante and utility man Kevin Lusson. Infante, who played as high as AAA for the Angels, had a great season in 2014 in France, and joins the Huskies after having helped Paris knock off Rouen in last years semi-finals. Lusson joins Rouen after having starred at the University of Texas where he twice reached the College World Series. Coming off an injury plagued 2014, Oscar Combes looks to earn a spot in the starting lineup, joining a crowded outfield which also features Bastien Dagneau, Joris Bert and Kenji Hagiwara. Newcomer Sebastien Duchossoy will be the teams utility player in 2015, filling in when needed for Luc Piquet at second base and Maxime Lefevre at third. David Gauthier will get a few innings in the field but figures to be the club's DH. Boris Marche and Dylan Gleeson will split time behind the dish, and Arthur Paturel looks to be the teams starting first baseman. The Huskies should also get Quentin Becquey and Minh Vallon back in late May, the two are currently in the US attending college.
The Huskies are 12-0 so far in 2015 and will host Savigny May 31.
SAT March 28--ROUEN 10, BEAUCAIRE 0
SUN March 29--ROUEN 8, BEAUCAIRE 1
SUN April 5--ROUEN 7, SENART 0
SUN April 5--ROUEN 7, SENART 1
SUN April 12--ROUEN 15, TOULOUSE 0
SUN April 12--ROUEN 8, TOULOUSE 0
SUN April 19--ROUEN 6, SAVIGNY 2
SUN April 19--ROUEN 13, SAVIGNY 5
SUN April 26--ROUEN 12, CHARTRES 4
SUN April 26--ROUEN 1, CHARTRES 0
SUN May 3--ROUEN 11, PARIS 0
SUN May 3--ROUEN 8, PARIS 0
THU May 14--SUN May 17--Challenge de France in Chartres
SUN May 31--SAVIGNY @ ROUEN 11 AM doubleheader
SUN June 7--ROUEN @ MONTPELLIER 11 AM doubleheader
SUN June 14--SENART @ ROUEN 11 AM doubleheader
SUN June 21--BEAUCAIRE @ ROUEN 11 AM doubleheader
SUN June 28--ROUEN @ TOULOUSE 11 AM doubleheader
SUN August 2--MONTPELLIER @ ROUEN 11 AM doubleheader
SUN August 9--ROUEN @ PARIS 11 AM doubleheader
SUN August 16--CHARTRES @ ROUEN 11 AM doubleheader
- Official Club Site (French)