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Enthusiastic exchange program sparked development of softball

Four decades ago, The Bahamas was noted worldwide for its softball prowess. In fact, on both sides of the gender line, The Bahamas had earned upper echelon status as the No. 3 ranked country in the world. For sure, we were that good in softball.

It is important to note, that while we have had individual gold medalists on the Olympic and World Championship stages in a variety of sporting disciplines, no team sport has come close to the level of superiority among world peers as softball. I understand that those who have come along in recent decades, despite their closeness to the national sporting fraternity, would be surprised at this revelation. Nevertheless, we once sat in a lofty position in the world, our men and women.

Often left out of discussions these days, but no doubt as significant as any other during the climb to world prominence of national softball was Michael Moss. One of the most satisfying aspects of my career in journalism has been using my forum to bridge the eras and showcase the great contributors to nation building through sports.

Those who have come onto the scene in recent years, stand on the shoulders of mighty sports builders. It’s special when Moss visits me from time to time and we reminisce. It’s always a very nice trip, that we take down memory lane. During our latest interaction, he brought up the Waxman Scrappers. It was a wistful moment for me, just hearing the name of the group from Canada.

I asked Moss to provide some insight for my readers to that era of proactive sports leaders, he being one of the best. His response follows:

“I recently uncovered one of the memorabilia crests in celebration of the series of softball games staged in Nassau with the Waxman Scrappers softball team, the 1975 Fast Pitch League Champions from Ontario, Canada. Nostalgia quickly set in. The recent re-run of a Freeport News sports article, lauding my leadership skills and tenacity as founder president of both the New Providence Softball Association (NPSA) and the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF), reminded me that I still had a few softball memorabilia on hand.

“The visit by a world class men’s softball team coming a mere two years following the 1973 birth of a nation, and my election as president of the Bahamas Softball Federation was indeed a momentous occasion.

“The 1975 Waxman Scrappers softball series in Nassau developed rather informally from a chance encounter with Chester Waxman, president of I. Waxman & Sons of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Chester sponsored the Waxman Scrappers softball team. He, his wife, their offspring and spouses, together with grandchildren, were vacationing in Nassau at the time of the chance meeting. Our conversation quickly turned to softball. I extended the invitation for a team visit and softball series in Nassau. Chester, proud to reward his Ontario Fast Pitch League Champion team with such a visit, quickly accepted.

“The Waxman Scrappers dominated the New Providence teams they played during their visit. Plans were then formulated for a softball team from The Bahamas to visit Canada. I believe the return visit occurred though I can’t say with certainty as I opted not to seek re-election as president of both the BSF and the NPSA at the organizations’ succeeding elections and I’m not certain the incoming leaderships followed through on the invite.

“Chester and I maintained social contact. We routinely got together whenever he and his family vacationed in Nassau, which they did regularly. The friendship nurtured was such that when my family made a winter visit to Montreal and Toronto a couple years following the Nassau softball series, he had his chauffeur collected us from our Toronto hotel to join him and his family for New Year’s lunch. Chester passed away in 2008 having sponsored the Waxman Scrappers softball team for some 15 years. A chance meeting; a lasting friendship. May his soul rest in peace.

“Reminiscing on the Waxman Scrappers Nassau visit has caused memories of The Bahamas men’s softball team’s return to international competition under the BSF banner and the very first participation by a Bahamian women’s softball team in international competition at the Caribbean Amateur Softball Tournament in Belize to come to mind. More importantly though, it has caused me to recall The Bahamas’ hosting of its very first international women’s softball competition when the Caribbean Amateur Softball Tournament was hosted in New Providence.

“The 1970s were glorious for softball in The Bahamas.”

Yes, indeed, the era was wonderful and a very important aspect of The Bahamas’ sports brand.

Understandably, there is a longing for iconic sports administrators such as Moss, in order for the softball family to recapture the glory years.

• To respond to this column, interested persons are asked to kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com, or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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