|Final decade of golden baseball era in The Bahamas|
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive
Published: May 09, 2012
Recently, sports historian Jeff Williams and I were reminiscing about the golden era of baseball, from the beginning, in 1954, to the last decade of the special period, the 1970s. The year 1954 ushered in a sports element which significantly, over the years, contributed to the international sports power image of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
“Baseball has come a long way in our country. There were those early glory years. I’m saddened by the personality problems that beset the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) and caused it to hit rock bottom, so to speak, but, the BBA produced great chapters in our sports history,” said Williams.
Indeed it did. An exciting brand of league play began in that first year. Within three years, in Andre Rodgers who went into the New York Giants organization, The Bahamas had its first professional baseball player. Tony Curry would follow in 1960 with the Philadelphia organizations.
League play would flourish, more professional players, in goodly numbers were to join Rodgers and Curry. The Bahamas made two impressive National Baseball Congress ventures. In the decade of the 1970s, Wenty Ford and Ed Armbrister pushed the number of Bahamian players to reach the major leagues to four. Armbrister netted two World Series rings with the mighty ‘Big Red Machine’, Cincinnati Reds.
While Ford was having his short stint with the Atlanta Braves and Armbrister was a reliable utility performer, hobnobbing with Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Don Gullett, Tony Perez, Dave Concepcion, Joe Morgan, etc., locally the BBA enjoyed vibrancy.
It was the decade of the 1970s however that connected the eras. Rodgers and Curry retired and got involved again with field competition in the BBA. Those who ended their professional days and others who were still playing at that level, came home and blended right into the BBA competitive scene.
The names make a classic who’s who list. There were Simeon Humes, Fred ‘Papa’ Smith, Vince Albury, Jayson Moxey, Eddie Ford, Henry Williams, Colin Thompson, Eugene ‘Sucki’ Thompson, Sidney McKinney, Fred Taylor, Roosevelt Turner, Sidney Outten, Crestwell Pratt, Adrian Rodgers, Andre Wood, Will Culmer, Hugh Bethel, Randy Rodgers and Edmondo Moxey, to name some of them.
Then there was that longevity group. They were in the BBA during the very early years and stayed around to give thrills for decades.
I refer to players such as Bummie Albury, Lorenzo ‘Captain Blood/Doonie’ Lockhart, Basil ‘Duran’ Hall, Bertie Murray, Harry Miller, Sonny Haven, John Adderley, Edwin Smith, Sidney Wilkerson, Frankie ‘Cinderella’ Sweeting, Sherwin ‘Seaegg’ Taylor, Lester Gardiner, Glenroy ‘Flo’ Saunders and Nat Dorsett.
A younger generation began in the 1960s and made their contribution to the spectacular 1970s of Bahamian baseball. You had players named Anthony ‘Poker/Bud’ Huyler, Roy ‘Cowboy’ Rodgers, Eddie McQuay, Dick Lockhart, John ‘Brother John’ Williams, Lloyd Bowleg, Kirk Smith, Roscoe Hall, Dencil Clarke, Danny Wilkerson, Ronald Smith and Everette Neeley.
To a little or great extent, the aforementioned players overlapped on the diamond in thrilling BBA encounters.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com)