Nine Bahamians named to Great Britain’s 28-man roster
The seemingly never-ending impasse in local baseball in the country is preventing a national team from being formed at the highest level of the sport worldwide, but Bahamians are still being afforded an opportunity through the British squad.
A total of nine Bahamians, currently in the minor league systems of professional franchises, have been named to Great Britain’s 28-man roster for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifier at the end of next month. The final WBC qualifier will be held September 22-25 at MCU Park, in Brooklyn, New York.
Great Britain will be joined by Pakistan, Brazil and Israel in that final qualifier, and will have to win the pool in order to complete the 16-team make-up of the WBC next March.
As for the nine Bahamians who are a part of the British squad, they are pitcher Ali Knowles, infielders Albert Cartwright, Jasrado Chisholm and Kyle Simmons, and outfielders Antoan Richardson, Jervis “Champ” Stuart, Byron Murray, Todd Isaacs Jr. and Reshard Munroe. Richardson and Cartwright played for Great Britain in the last qualifier four years ago, at which time, the latter led the team in hitting (.455) and runs scored (four) and tied for the team lead in home-runs (one).
That Great Britain team finished two games short of advancing to the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“On behalf of the federation, we are very excited,” said Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Sweeting. “This relationship with the British federation started in 2012 when Antoan and Albert played with Great Britain in the preliminaries. Antoan mentioned that he would have liked to see The Bahamas field a team at that level, but there are some things in place preventing that. He introduced the two federations to each other, and that began the process of us looking toward this year’s qualifier. We advised of our top level players throughout the system. They submitted the names of who they were interested in, and then they were submitted to the clubs for approval.
“Today, we are excited to have nine of them making up the British team roster for this coming World Baseball Classic qualifier. What we have been working toward is to allow these young men to have an opportunity to play baseball at the highest level. Our goal is to be in one of the qualifying tournaments as a nation by 2019. Plans are in motion to make that happen. We’ll do what we have to do to raise the standard internationally.”
All nine players came up through the BBF, the only vibrant baseball federation in the country that still has no jurisdiction over the selection of national teams or the implementation of those teams in IBAF sanctioned tournaments. The IBAF (International Baseball Federation) is the governing body of the sport worldwide, and the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) is its Bahamian affiliate.
The powers that be are still calling on the two bodies to amalgamate in order to settle the long-standing dispute in local baseball in the country.
Instead, BBF President Teddy Sweeting said that they will remain steadfast, and won’t be deterred in the advancement of young baseball talent in the country.
“When one would look at what is going on in baseball in the country, you would see that there should be no need to go through another body to get into these tournaments,” said Sweeting. “The world is not concerned with what’s going on in the country locally. Their only concern is having access to the talent, and we’re continuing to develop that talent for the country. We are fully involved with Major League Baseball (MLB), and it’s the Major League Baseball international division that handles the World Baseball Classic.
“Right now, we don’t see the necessity of joining up with the other body (BBA). They bring nothing to the table. They are not doing anything in the country for the development of baseball. They’re defunct and inactive and we need to come to an understanding as a country that something needs to be done so that we could get this thing sorted out with the IBAF. We continue to hope that there will be some resolution.”
As for Bahamians being qualified to represent Great Britain on the international stage, Sweeting said that the chief requirement was that a grand parent of the player in question being born in The Bahamas prior to 1973. In terms of fielding a national team to play in the WBC, Sweeting said that one of the issues was that they had not participated in enough IBAF sanctioned tournaments in the past three years. He said that they are working toward that as well, seeking to play in as many regional and international tournaments as possible leading up to the next WBC.
Sweeting and BBF National Team Selection Committee Chairman Patrick Knowles Sr. have been invited to be a part of the Great Britain contingent in New York for next month’s WBC qualifier.