Dubbed 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.

COLOR PHOTO: DEBBY KELLY/BON DIA (KINGSALE) YES, SIRS! Kingsale (bottom), Maduro (left) and Ponson got QueenBeatrix's O.K. COLOR PHOTO: RICK STEWART/GETTY IMAGES (MADURO) [See caption above]