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‘Posey’ Gardiner proud of sports’ golden era

His name has quite a historical connection and he happens to be one of the few living members from a competitive and golden era of sports in The Bahamas.

George William Wilberforce “Posey” Gardiner II developed into one of the great hurlers of the early era of organized softball in the country and throughout the remaining decades, the octogenarian (84) has kept close to the national sporting scene.  What’s the history behind his name?

William Wilberforce was an English political figure whose life overlapped the 18th and 19th centuries.  During his early 20s, Wilberforce converted to Christianity and charted a noteworthy course in evangelism. He was a successful politician as well.  However, he is widely noted for the role he played in the abolition of slavery.  Wilberforce contributed mightily to the enactment of legislation in Great Britain called the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

It was this man George Gardiner’s parents named him in honor of.  Therein is the historical connection.  Gardiner and those of his era patterned themselves to a great extent after men they read about, such as William Wilberforce.  The British are great for functioning orderly.  They understand manners and general etiquette.  Small wonder that throughout his life Gardiner and his peers conformed to a special code of conduct that carried over into their sporting, social and Christian associations equally.

“It was time of honor.  There was respect.  That was the order of the day.  The children respected their elders.  Younger brothers and sisters respected the older ones.  In the community, young boys and young girls respected the older boys and girls.  In the church and on the field of play, this attitude was common to all of us,” said Gardiner during a recent interview.

Indeed the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s marked a period of chivalry.  Men and boys were noble and gallant.  Women and young girls followed virtuous and well-behaved paths.  It was a time when all sought to be proper.  Young men needed to write letters to parents in order to be able to visit young ladies.  Formal communications had to be made as well to seek an engagement with a lady, or her hand in marriage.

It was a time of Camelot.  The Bahamian society was peaceful, happy and communities offered perpetual enlightenment and education for the young and even the not-so-young.  The golden era of sports in The Bahamas and the emergence of humble, honorable sports gentlemen like “Posey” Gardiner coincided with that beautiful period.  There was a commonality that existed, a sharing of ideas, attributes and athletic skills.  Families crossed over.

For instance, there was the St. Albans Club, one of the hallmark sporting organizations of the golden era.  Dr. K.V.A. Rodgers interacted with his nephew Andre (who was to go on to become the first Bahamian professional baseball player and ultimately the pioneer in the major leagues).  They mixed with the Gardiner lads, George and Edward.

In that vibrant mixture was also a young Dr. Francis Adderley, Bernese “Bummie” Albury, Bobby Evans, Ivan Alexander, Duffer Dawkins, Theodore Whylly and Kenneth Francis (who would go on to be a two-time publisher of The Nassau Guardian and carve out an excellent media legacy).

The culture was the same with the Vikings, the Police, St. Bernard’s, the Warriors, St. George’s and the Westerns.  In 1953, Kenneth Francis was the opening batsman for St. Albans and George William Wilberforce “Posey” Gardiner was the opening bowler.  St. Albans captured the cricket championship and created that page in the legacy of the golden era of sports in The Bahamas.

It’s a period to be saluted and emulated.

To respond to this sports feature, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected]

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