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National baseball experiencing refreshing advancement steps

Following decades of unsettling relationships between various baseball groups, the founding organization for the sport is accepted once again as the parent national body.

Reference is to the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) which gave birth to organized diamond activities. Last year, national baseball leaders, some grudgingly, others in the fullness of the spirit of togetherness, determined that there would be one recognized umbrella body and that entity would be the BBA, crafted by the founding pioneers, and now headed by President Sam Rodgers.

Will Rutherford, a baseball mentor supreme and one of the architects of the national unified effort, on Tuesday expressed enthusiasm about the direction of the sport in the country.

“I am very pleased with what is happening with baseball in the country. We have an outreach program. I like what is going on with baseball in Eleuthera. Abaco is about to take off. Of course, in Grand Bahama and New Providence, the contributions to the national program are solid and progressive. I can speak more intimately to baseball in Grand Bahama. Right now, there are 10 players out of this island who are in the minor leagues. Any day, one of them could be called up (to the majors). So, in general, what we are doing in baseball as a nation, makes me proud,” said Rutherford.

He had praise also for the new direction Rodgers is taking the sport regarding officiating. A national umpiring program, headed by Martin ‘Pork’ Burrows who is the BBA’s chief umpire, has progressed quite well, I understand, with Grand Bahama being the initial location for the process.

“Yes indeed, we are getting the umpiring standard up to another level. ‘Pork’ Burrows who is the country’s chief baseball umpire is leading the way. The program started down here (Grand Bahama) with our chief umpire Randy Laing networking on the ground and coordinating with those who have experience and others who wanted to come on board. Laing was the lead character in that exercise,” said Rutherford.

It is a refreshing course the BBA is on. Rodgers is fortunate to have gotten the full support of the vast majority of the primary power brokers in the sport, and as a result, national baseball is being galvanized. Officiating is a key component. The skills department is not a problem for the national baseball program. Throughout the areas where the sport is prominent, there are coaches/trainers properly qualified to work with the youngsters.

All and sundry must, however, become acquainted with exactly how the game is to be played. This is essential because it would be advantageous to our teams when they compete regionally and internationally. Thus, upscale umpiring is a significant aspect of the national development structure.

Perhaps the next major development plank for the BBA would be a massive outreach program. The suggestion here is that Rodgers should appoint a talent search team to explore all of the communities of the country, even those where the sport is not being played. In those instances, baseball should be introduced.

The present baseball trend is exciting, but Rodgers and his associates still have a bit of a journey ahead of them to get the sport back to where it once was, some 40 years ago, with over 20 professional players at one time, inclusive of the major leaguers. Presently, The Bahamas is not represented in Major League Baseball (MLB).

I extend continued best wishes to Rodgers, Rutherford and the rest of the baseball stalwarts as they seek to attain new heights.

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

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