Most Exotic Sports Guy (2013)

DiDi Gregorius, Arizona Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks shortstop Mreiekson Julius (DiDi) Gregorious is a native of the Netherlands. Now though it may may sound strange to most Americans that a major-league baseball player is Dutch, we'll have you know that our national pastime is pretty popular in the land of windmills, wooden shoes, and dikes. Here's a little history lesson: Baseball started in the country in 1911 after a teacher named J.C.G. Grasé became fascinated with it during a trip to the United States. The country now even has a professional league and a successful national team. Now, baseball pales compared to soccer in the Netherlands, but the Dutch were one of those European nations that colonized in the Americas, and its former colonies simply go wild for baseball. This is where DiDi Gregorious comes in. His family emigrated from the Netherlands to the tiny southern Caribbean island country of Curacao, off the coast of Venezuela. We've all heard of the Dominican Republic and its multitude of famous players (slugger Luis Pujols comes to mind), but DiDi's got to be the most famous (granted this isn't saying much) player (or anything else) from his little speck of a homeland. We doubled over laughing when D-backs GM Kevin Towers said Gregorious was the second coming of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. But nobody was laughing early in the 2013 season when Gregorious, in addition to making acrobatic plays on defense and saving games, posted a .322 batting average with 16 extra-base hits. He's cooled off since at the plate, which makes us think that Towers exaggerated. But not by much.


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