|Baseball 1970s decade presented bevy of stars|
Published: May 15, 2012
Today’s column continues to highlight that special decade of baseball in The Bahamas, the 1970s. The “best-of-the-best” performed for local fans. The senior league of the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) was arguably the most attractive sports entity at the time. Basketball was certainly quite popular and cricket still had a solid connection to many Bahamians.
Baseball at the Andre Rodgers stadium during the 1970s, however, was something extra special. The satellite era was not upon us fully and the fans flocked to night and weekend games. Being in attendance was a great experience. Luminaries, present day stars and icons like Andre Rodgers, Tony Curry, and the energetic All-History president George Mackey, afforded all and sundry a bit of interaction.
It was a great, big family affair, baseball at the Rodgers stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. The high point was the performance of the top players. There were many great ones for sure.
The All-Bahamian Team of 1978 was a case in point. The team included the first team for all of the positions plus the designated hitter. One could make a case easily for seven of the 10 being on a Bahamian Baseball All-History Team. The pitcher was Bertie Murray (All-History); Lorenzo “Doonie” Lockhart at second base (All-History); Roosevelt “Bruso” Turner at third base (All-History); Jayson “Peg” Moxey, Fred “Papa” Smith and Eddie Ford in the outfield (three All-History players); Simeon Humes was the designated batter (All-History).
Bertie happens only to be the most durable, yet talented pitcher in the history of baseball in The Bahamas. Who would argue about Lockhart’s place in history? Asa Ferguson always called Lockhart “Captain Blood”. He was indeed bloodthirsty when he went up to bat. Because his hitting was so potent, there was a tendency to underestimate his play at second and his running on the base paths. He was not as stylish as others, but he got the job done efficiently.
Turner was flash. He was pizzazz and extremely good. At short and third he was a high quality infielder. He was steady at the plate and packed surprising power, as his home-run totals for a few seasons of his long career indicated. Moxey was a slightly larger version in the Turner mold. His forte was the outfield. In 1978, he was the manager of the Holsten Knights and won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, impressively handling double duties.
Smith and Ford were all, of the very same ilk. They all played professional baseball. They hit for average and power. They were great thinkers when quick decisions were necessary on the diamond. However for them, mostly the game came automatically. They had so mastered the art. If I had to choose between the three All-History performers in the outfield, I would give Ford the edge. I haven’t seen any better, inclusive of the long list of major league greats.
They just had the big stage. Humes did it all, like Moxey, Ford, and Smith and with the added designated hitter position, he was a no-brainer. He’s All-History most definitely.
Peter Bethel, the long, rangy infielder who could hit the ball with the best of them, for average and power, could be an All-History choice. He was the 1978 All-Bahamian at first base. Catching was Charles Mackey who enjoyed a very good season with the St. Michael’s ball club. Kenny Fox was at short on the 1978 All-Bahamian team.
What made the decade of the 1970s so great was the fact that at least three All-Bahamian Teams could have been selected and there would have been little argument about the players named. On the mound, Vincent Strachan or Eugene Taylor could easily have been selected for the 1978 squad. Spurgeon Johnson had a great season behind the plate and Sidney Outten, even with a not so awesome bat, was superb enough as a receiver.
In the infield, players like Roy ‘Cowboy’ Rodgers, Anthony ‘Poker’ Huyler, Harry Miller, Fred Taylor, and Jerome Moxey would have been good fits for the All-Bahamian team of 1978. So would Dick Lockhart, John Williams, Dencil Clarke and a few others, in the outfield. Such was the available talent during the 1970s. The year 1978 was a prime example. Jayson Moxey was the MVP. Huyler was ‘Manager of the Year’. Murray was selected ‘Pitcher of the Year’ and a young hurler named Arthur ‘Baldy’ Seymour was ‘Rookie of the Year’.
The year 1978 was indeed, a very good one.
Milestone baseball information provided by Sports Historian Jeff Williams.
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