By BRENT STUBBS
THE Bahamas Baseball Federation’s decision to cease all operations and allow the Bahamas Baseball Federation to carry out their mandate as the governing body for baseball in the country is a move that should be commended.
Over the years, several attempts have been made under a number of ministers of sports, but this move was made without any government interference as the federation leadership felt it was time for them to cease their operations.
Teddy Sweeting, who served as secretary general when the federation was formed in 2003 under the presidency of Greg Burrows, sat in the chair as the president when the decision was made during their annual general meeting in December.
It must have been a hardline stance for Sweeting to take, following efforts of his predecessor, Craig ‘Salty’ Kemp, who had actually signed an agreement with the BBA to reunite prior to the death of its long-time president, the late Jim Wood.
The BBF took the stance after members of the Junior Baseball League of Nassau, the Eleuthera Junior Baseball League, the Grand Bahama Little League and the Grand Bahama Senior League made a decision to rejoin the BBA in March 2017.
Still holding out and continuing to function separate and apart from the BBA is Freedom Farm.
It’s unlikely that Burrows, who heads the organisation, will be added to the mix. The past occurrences that led to the breakaway is still a hot item on their agenda, so don’t expect them to deviate their decision.
There are some who commend the federation for making the move and there are others who condemn them, but in the best interest of the sport, all parties need to come back together under one umbrella.
As Sweeting pointed out in his interview with The Tribune, the International Baseball Federation had advised them that the Bahamas is too small to have a division at the top of the governing body and they should come together and form just one body.
The federation, under Sweeting’s leadership as secretary and president, made great strides in helping to develop the sport through the introduction of the National Baseball Championships in 2003, the same year that they were formed.
The championships was able to provide the level of competition that was lacking in the country where all of those islands playing baseball had an opportunity to come together and compete, albeit at the junior level.
As a result of the various leagues that played under the federation banner, a lot of young men got exposed to a higher level of the game and were able to either leave high school to complete their education in the United States, earned athletic scholarships to colleges or received professional contracts.
Some of those players were on display two weeks ago when Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox staged the successful inaugural ‘Don’t Blink’ Home Run Derby on Montagu.
The downfall of the BBA is that since the inception of the BBF, there has been a drastic decline in the senior programme, due mainly to the dismantling of the Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium. But over the past two decades, there has not been any senior league played, except for the games that both Freedom Farm and JBLN incorporated into their programme, while Grand Bahama continued to provide the avenue for their senior players to perform.
Sam Rodgers, who assumed the role of president after the death of Wood, said it’s their intention to work with all parties concerned for the betterment of the sport.
Hopefully this decision by the BBF will help to reunify the sport.
In making the announcement, Sweeting said they agreed to the following three points:
• Suspend all national operations until the Bahamas Baseball Association’s elections are held in 2020.
• Encourage all baseball leagues (members of the BBF and non-members) to seek membership in the Bahamas Baseball Association.
• BBF to support the BBA, wherever needed, with the hosting of the 2018 National Baseball Championships.
Over the years, Wood was adamant that they wanted to reengage all parties and hold elections so that everybody can have a say in the direction of the sport.
As a result of the revised constitution that will only allow the member associations and not the executives to vote, Sweeting said they gladly decided to cease operations and prepare for the next elections tentatively set for 2020.
In the meantime, there is obviously a lot of concern about the continuation of the national championships, which will now be the responsibility of the BBA.
Last year, Rodgers said the BBA does not have any intention of running any leagues, but will only be looking at competition at the national and international level.
So it’s going to be interesting to see if the nationals are on their agenda and if it gets the attention that it did under the federation. It will be disheartening if it doesn’t come off, or if it is not successfully ran.
In recent years, Freedom Farm has declined to participate in the nationals so this might be a good time to get them back into the mix and eventually reengaged in the affairs of the BBA.
With just about two months to go for the return of the CARIFTA Games, the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations is encouraging the general public to come out and purchase their tickets.
The biggest regional games, organised by NACAC, will take place over the Easter holiday weekend and is expected to attract, if not all, the majority of the 27 member countries.
Jamaica is the perennial kingpins, having dominated the three days of competition for the past 33 years. In fact, the Bahamas was the last country to win the title in 1984.
This will mark the eighth time that the Bahamas has hosted the games, which was started in 1972 by Austin Sealy. And each year, the fans have shown their support in Team Bahamas trying to dethrone Jamaica.
Tickets are already on sale and are priced at $5 for general seating, $10 for bronze, $15 for silver and $20 for gold. There is also three-day packages that consist of $50 for gold seats, $40 for silver and $25 for bronze. There are no three-day packages for general seating.
Get your tickets and come out and cheer on Team Bahamas in their quest to dethrone Jamaica here at home once again.