COLIN Thompson and Godfrey Eneas pictured third and fourth from left respectively.
Colin ‘Church’ Thompson, the brother of former NBA two-time Los Angeles Lakers’ center Mychal ‘Sweet Bells’ Thompson, passed away last week. Today, former baseball player GODFREY ENEAS gives a special tribute to his former baseball/ softball team-mate.
IN the 1950s when Andre Rodgers signed a professional baseball contract with the New York Giants, this changed the sporting landscape for many youngsters in Nassau at the time.
Every youngster who played softball switched to baseball because they wanted to be the next Andre Rodgers.Colin “Church” Thompson and I were no exceptions.
The 50s were a time when sporting facilities were lacking and sporting organisations made do with what was available. For baseball, Clifford Park or some would call the Western Fort for us, was our Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field or even the Polo Grounds.
Sunday was baseball as the games started at 10 am and three games were played.
Because Church and I lived out East, our practice field was the Eastern Parade.
It was on the Parade that we developed our skills under the watchful eyes of his uncle Phillip “Box” Fountain and older players like Willis Ferguson, Freddie Higgs, Robbie Elliot and others.Church came from a very religious family, so he had to engage in some shenanigans to play on Sundays.
Church was a pretty good softball and baseball player as a catcher/ first baseman. He was in the lineup not because of his glove but for his bat.
In the Schlitz lineup, he hit cleanup or fourth behind Lorenzo “Donie” Lockhart,probably one of the best hitters in the history of Bahamian baseball. In softball, Church had the distinction of facing the US softball traveling legend,the King and his Court which was a four-man team: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, and shortstop.
The King, Eddie Feigner, was probably the best softball pitcher in the world. They were the Harlem Globetrotters of softball. However, that Sunday on Garfunkle Field, Church put him over the left field fence.It was a sensational moment just to watch trot around the bases with a big smile.
Church had another big baseball moment when he homered to clinch the Championship for Schlitz that was fifty plus years ago.
Winning the Championship enabled our sponsor, the late Audley Kemp, to arrange with Schlitz in Milwaukee an all expense paid visit to that City.
Schlitz treated us royally as we played a number of teams around the City as well as given VIP treatment with the Milwaukee Brewers, the major league team.
I just highlighted two unforgettable softball and baseball events in the sporting life of a guy who I knew as a playmate, schoolmate and teammate.
May you rest in peace, Church; we will miss you.