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Baseball milestones from 1970s decade

Sports Scope
  • Crestwell Pratt.

FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 11, 2012

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The slugger and the potent runs batted in (RBIs) player are highly valued in baseball. It’s simple. While pitching is indeed 70 percent of the game, runs win them.

During the decade of the 1970s a number of milestones were reached in the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA). Teams played 42 games during the seasons. The Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) has no senior league play. Unless the BBA becomes vibrant again and increases the number of games per season, some of the records established during the last decade of the ‘Golden Era of Baseball in The Bahamas’ (the 1970s) will never be broken.

For today, let’s just go down memory lane a bit and examine two particular records.

Firstly, Crestwell Pratt, playing for St. Bernard’s, connected for 18 home runs in 1977. Glenroy ‘Flo’ Saunders won the home run title with a mere three in 1970. The baseball records have not always been well kept, but pundits say Will Culmer should be credited with around nine homers in 1976. Fred ‘Papa’ Smith is officially listed with 11 in 1978. There is no record of anyone coming closer to Pratt.

The picture is clear. Pratt was just awesome. He had those huge shoulders and when he turned on a ball that he hit squarely, it always went a long distance, 18 times, going outside of the park. Pratt dwarfed all others in the power department.

The previous year, Eddie Ford (Del Jane), Roosevelt Turner (Del Jane) and Dencil Clark (St. Bernard’s) tied for the crown with six each. They captivated the crowds. They were considered to be in a power groove and fans watched eagerly when they stepped up to the plate.

The next season, Pratt took the league by storm. The 18 homers put him in a class all by himself. Noted local sluggers through the different eras like Barrie Farrington, Merril Rodgers, Edmondo Moxey, John ‘Hercules’ Dean, Colin Thompson, Culmer and Lorenzo Lockhart, pale in comparison. Pratt’s 18-homer total is golden.

Also in 1977, a slick third baseman who always made good contact at bat, got hot in the clutch early and remained that way throughout the season. Fred ‘Chicken’ Taylor drove in 59 runs, a senior league baseball record in The Bahamas. The late Peter Bethel, for Holsten Knights in 1978, had 51 RBIs. His total remains closest to Taylor, according to official statistics compiled by sports historian Jeff Williams.

Lockhart had 43 in 1972. Taylor, in 1973 when he was with Beck’s Beer, drove in 39 runs. For comparison to the record, Robert ‘Moose’ Sawyer of Beck’s, led the league in 1970 with 14 RBIs. The standout performances of the 1970s contributed greatly to the excitement that was synonymous with baseball at the time.

Fans were treated to the expected and the unexpected thrills. For instance, ‘Papa’ Smith was an oddity. He always looked like he was struggling just to put one step in front of the other. He looked slow. That was one great deception. He was quick when he had to be, agile enough to steal 35 bases one year while playing professional ball in the Minor Leagues. He was not known previously for being one of the feared sluggers. Then, he hit 11 home runs in 1978.

Go figure that. Let’s reflect on Turner. Fondly referred to as ‘Bruso’ or ‘Dog’, Turner had pure speed. In fact, when a visiting scout saw how quickly he motored down to first out of the batter’s box, Turner almost immediately was signed to a pro contract. However, Turner was never known for power at the plate. Yet, he hit six ‘dingers’ in 1975.

How about that? That’s what baseball in The Bahamas during the 1970s, was all about.

Milestone baseball statistics provided by Sports Historian Jeff Williams. To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

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