By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
After years of negotiating, the Bahamas Baseball Association finally welcomed members of the Junior Baseball League of Nassau, the Eleuthera Junior Baseball League, the Grand Bahama Little League and the Grand Bahama Senior Baseball under its umbrella, in a move that they say is for the betterment of the players who want to represent the Bahamas at the international level.
Although they are still missing some of the pieces in the puzzle, namely the Bahamas Baseball Federation and Freedom Farm, the amalgamation was called a “great day for the sport of baseball,” which has seen a resurgence with players competing at the professional level, but virtually no national teams competing overseas in recent years.
Sam Rodgers, who has assumed the role of president of the BBA after the passing of former long-time president Jim Wood, said his mentor is proudly looking down and smiling at the progress that they made in the agreement that they have reached with the newest members of the team.
At a press conference on Tuesday at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium and surrounded by some of the newest members, Rodgers introduced Terran Rodgers as a vice president, Larry Forbes, vice president for the North Eastern Bahamas, Steven Adderley, vice president for the Northern Bahamas, Shane Albury as secretary and Andrew Saunders, Joseph Moss, Sandy Morley, Alonzo Pratt, Veancor Darville as directors, along with former Major Leaguer Ed Armbrister as their baseball ambassador and Martin ‘Pork’ Burrows as Umpire in Chief.
Sam Rodgers, who has worked with the late Wood for the past 35 years, said it was their intention to bring all of the factions under one umbrella, but he admitted that they experienced some thorns along the way and was unable to get it accomplished. However, he called on all persons involved in the sport to come together for the betterment of the sport and for the children, who are involved.
Rodgers reminded the audience that the BBA is the recognized and international sanctioned body for baseball in the country and he is delighted that they put aside their differences and have vowed to work together because they need each and every one of them to make it work.
He noted that as the president of the BBA, he was amazed when he saw the nine Bahamians playing for Great Britain in the World Classic because “it caught the Bahamas by surprise. No one knew that was taking place. When I spoke to the Minister (of Youth, Sports and Culture, Dr Daniel Johnson), he was surprised.
“So from here on in, we hope to change that format,” said Rodgers, who welcomed all local players to come on board and join the BBA in moving forward.
Bahamas Olympic Committee president Wellington Miller was on hand to endorse the move as they launch under the theme: “Joining Hands for a Better Baseball.”
“I am happy that you all made the right move in the right time,” said Miller, noting that the CAC Qualifier for the CAC Games, the Pan Am Qualifier for the Pan Am Games and the Olympic Games coming up, they will lend them their full support because, even though he said his secretary general Rommel Knowles has been working tirelessly behind the scene with the BBA to bring a resolution to the sport.
Knowles, who is assisting the BBA in the public relations department, said they are hoping that this move will bring back the good old days as they celebrate the unification of baseball as it were.
“This new group of baseball administrators are keen to get to work with a view of designing strategically a development plan for baseball in the Bahamas, one that includes the development of facilities and resources in the Family Islands,” Knowles said.
“This plan will leave no child behind. Every child has a right to participate in the sport of their choice and to do so in a clean environment. This evening represents a victory for the thousands of young male baseball players and young female softball players. Tonight, the young kids finally wins.”
Also on hand to endorse the move was Ted Miller, president of the Bahamas Softball Federation, who wish the new executives every success as they move forward, pledging the full support of their organization, which work hand in hand because of the players involved and the dynamics of the two sports.
“I’m happy to see them making this move, It’s a long time coming,” Miller stressed. “We are here to show our solidarity.”
With the new baseball stadium being constructed, Knowles said they are looking forward to having an impute in the discussion as to who should be able to occupy the facility.
While acknowledging that the Bahamas Baseball Federation, headed by Teddy Sweeting, is still in existence, the new body indicated that in moving forward they will not disrupt the National Baseball Tournament that is normally held in Grand Bahama by the BBF because they want to see the “players play,” they will be looking at preparing the national teams to compete in the various international tournaments.
Terran Rodgers, representing JBLN, whose president Bertie Murray Jr was also present. said they were working on this merger for the past eight years.
“We always thought that this was the way to go, but we thought that the federation would take the lead in doing that,” Rodgers said. “At the end of the day, we thought that this was the best way to go, not just for JBLN, but for all of the leagues so that we can get our kids to play.”
Marvin ‘Tougie’ Wood, a vice president of the BBA, said he’s very excited to work with the executives coming from JBLN, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama.
“It’s overdue. It’s all about the kids,” he said. “No one is bigger than baseball. All those days are past. We are here to move baseball forward. We always had talent. The problem was getting the talent under one roof.”
And Alonzo Pratt, speaking on behalf of Grand Bahama, said the merger is long overdue, but he noted that Grand Bahama has always been there and all they want to do is “play baseball.”