POWER hitting third baseman Bertram Murray III, coming off an impressive year in the Chicago Cubs minor league baseball organisation, capped off the first All-Bahamian final to become the first home grown player to capture the Don’t Blink Home Run Derby title.
In a dramatic showdown as the fifth edition of the event returned from Paradise Island to the Montagu shores, Murray, better known as ‘Deeja,’ out-slugged Trent ‘T-Money’ Deveaux 9-8 in the final of the country’s biggest event that highlighted the majority of the players playing in the minor leagues or in college.
The event, organised by the duo of Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox, came one week after the Bahamas Baseball Association hosted the Caribbean Cup Baseball Championships in the newly built Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium.
Some of the derby participants represented the Bahamas in a fourth-place finish. Murray III, who didn’t participate for Team Bahamas, came home and joined the list of Home Run Derby champions, which includes Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays - winner of the first two titles in 2018 and 2019 - Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, the winner in 2020 and Kansas City Royals catcher MJ Melendez took the crown in 2021.
“Somebody had to do it. Whether it was me or Trent, someone had to keep it home in the Bahamas,” said Murray III about clinching the title. “I felt comfortable out there. I had a good thrower, so I felt comfortable.
“From the time we were youngsters, me and Trent always had some friendly competition, so it was good going up against him. It feels good, though, to be the one to bring the title back to the Bahamas.”
Although he fell short, Deveaux said he was just delighted to be able to make the All-Bahamian final.
“We made sure that the trophy stayed here, so whatever we had to do, we did it,” Deveaux said. “I was supposed to win the tittle, but I came close, one step closer to winning it. So next year, I’m going all out to win it.”
Deveaux, 22, admitted that after getting off to a sluggish start, he was able to make up enough grounds to put himself in contention for the title. Murray III just wanted it a little more and it showed when he followed Deveaux.
“I have something coming for BJ. But he was amazing today. He deserved that one. He came here to put on a show,” Deveaux said. “That’s all we came out to do is to put on a show. But he did it this time.”
After finishing the season in low A with the Inland Empire 66ers, Deveaux said he will continue working until he reaches his ultimate goal, which is to play in the major leagues, joining the latest Bahamians to do so, including injured Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm of the Miami Marlins and co-organiser Lucius Fox, who made a brief debut with the Washington Nationals.
Murray Jr, 22, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 15th round of the 2021 draft out of Florida Athletic University. After spending his first season with the Cubs affiliate in the rookie-level Arizona Complex League, Murray III was promoted to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Single-A affiliate of the Cubs before moving up to High-A South Bend this year.
“The season was fun, but it’s over now, so I have to look forward to next year,” lamented Murray, who finished the season with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. “I just want to go out there and compete everyday and have some fun with it. I just want to do my best.”
While Murray took home the individual award, Team Fox beat out Team Isaacs for the team title.
Team Fox included Kashon Conliffe of the San Diego Padres, Dax Stubbs of the Baltimore Orioles, Keithron Moss of the Texas Rangers, Kristin Munroe and D’Shawn Knowles of the Los Angeles Angels, Anfernee Seymour of the Long Island Ducks, Dabiel Johnson, a free agent, Marcus Wilson of the Seattle Mariners, Murray Jr, Zion Bannister of the Texas Rangers, Warren Saunders of the New York Mets, Richie Palacious of the Cleveland Guardians, Khalil Lee of the New York Mets, Nick Gordon of the Minnesota Twins, Lewis Brinson of the San Francisco Giants, Dominic Smith, a free agent and MJ Melendez of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Team Isaacs featured Paris Johnson of the Los Angels Dodgers, Cherif Neymour, Andre Arthur, Simmons, Steven Adderley and Ian Lewis of the Miami Marlins, Adari Grant of the St Louis Cardinals, Everette Cooper of the Houston Astros, Ryan Reckley of the San Francisco Giants, Deveaux of the LA Angels, Corey Julks of the Houston Astros, Ellison Hanna of the Lake Erie Crushers, Masyn QWinn of the St Louis Cardinals, Akil Baddoo of the Detroit Tigers, Joshua Palacios of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Will Benson of the Cleveland Guardians and Isaacs of the Lake Eric Crushers.
The Home Derby was the culmination of a week of activities organised by Fox and Isaacs Jr as they brought the island nation’s minor league players home where they participated in a celebrity softball and golf and children’s clinic.