As knights of the 200-year-old Dutch Royal House of Orange, baseball players Eugene Kingsale, Calvin Maduro and Sidney Ponson. The honor was conferred upon them by Olindo Koolman, governor-general of their native Aruba, an island in the southern Caribbean that is an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The players (Kingsale is a Tigers outfielder, Maduro a Dodgers pitcher and Ponson a pitcher for the Orioles) went to Aruba for a ceremony on April 29 at which Koolman—an avid baseball fan who recommended knighthood for the ballplayers to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands—gave them each a pin and a 15-page code of conduct. "Now I cannot do a lot of stuff I used to do," says Ponson. "I can't just go to a bar and get drunk. You have to relax and be calm and not do stupid stuff." The players are expected to attend government functions when they are in Aruba; they are also to be addressed as "Sir." (Their teammates have already begun doing so—mockingly, of course.)
The trio are not the first athletes to be knighted by the Dutch, and knighthood for athletes is fairly common in Great Britain, where honorees have included Sir Roger Bannister, who broke the four-minute-mile barrier in 1954, and Sir Edmund Hillary, who climbed Mount Everest in 1953. While none of the three Aruban knights has accomplished anything nearly that grand—Kingsale's claim to fame is having the highest batting average of any Tigers regular, at .258—Koolman felt their presence in the big leagues brought honor and attention to the 75-square-mile island of 71,000 people. Ponson says Koolman told him he was being knighted because "every time you pitch, Aruba is mentioned on TV." In his first start after returning from the ceremony, Ponson had his best outing of the season, pitching eight innings of five-hit ball and winning his third game of the season. His opponent? The Royals, naturally.