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The 1970s showcased speed demon Turner

Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 14, 2012

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There is a long list of speed merchants of Bahamian baseball. In the early decades, players like Tyrone McGregor, Lou Adderley and Basil ‘Slick’ Burrows set the pace on the base paths during Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) games.

The 1970s however produced a special set of artists, skilled in getting from first to second, to third and home plate very quickly. It was a fearless lot, those speedsters trotted out by the top teams. Roosevelt ‘Bruso’ Turner of Del Jane (the organization known at times also as St. Pauli Girls Barons and Holsten Knights) was arguably the best. Turner also played for Beck’s Beer.

He won the league scoring titles from 1972 to 1978 with the exception of the one year, 1977. In winning his six scoring titles, the first two for Beck’s, Turner hit the 50 runs scored mark four times, his highest being 55 in 1975 for Del Jane. He had 50 in 1972 for Beck’s, 53 in 1976 for Holsten Knights and 54 in 1978, also for Holsten.

However, his Holsten teammate Eddie Ford scored 58 in 1977. That mark is considered to be the all-time record. Jayson Moxey won the runs scored title in 1971 with 19 and Anthony Smith won in 1970 with 15. In the stolen bases department, Turner again separated himself from his peers. He won four stolen bases crowns (1972, 1973, 1974 and 1977). His 48 in 1972 is thought to be a record.

The 1970s also produced two pure speed specialists. The Schlitz Beer Franchise (also 100 Pipers and Bahamian Lumber) sort of took a page out of the book of Charlie Finley who owned the Oakland Athletics of the American League. Finley who was known for novelty tactics, once signed a track star named Herb Washington, just to steal bases. Washington never had an at-bat or played anywhere in the field. He was called into the game exclusively to pinch-run. Washington’s career did not last too long because he had no baseball background.

During the 1974 and 1975 seasons, he stole 31 bases in 48 attempts and scored 33 times. He was never a big factor and Finley soon got tired of the exploration and let Washington go. Schlitz though, had Gordon Farrington and Anthony ‘Skeebo’ Roberts. They were different from Washington. Both Farrington and Roberts understood baseball.

Nevertheless, they were asked primarily to generate runs by stealing bases. It was an exciting time when they reached first base. Everybody in the park knew they were going to attempt a steal of second and if they got there, it was a try for third. They made for an added dimension of excitement to the 1970s.

Then of course, there were the regular starters around the league with speed, players like Jayson Moxey, Richard Lockhart, Eddie Ford, Lorenzo Lockhart, Ron Smith and Anthony Huyler. None of them were as successful however, as Turner. He was the biggest threat on base. Indeed, Roosevelt Turner was the speed king of Bahamian baseball in the 1970s. The statistics indicate as much.

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

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