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Three islands for baseball nationals

The Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships will have a special flair to it this year as it will be spread out over three islands and three weekends.

There will be two divisions contested in Freeport, Grand Bahama, along with a Tee Ball (six-and-under – 6U) exhibition, three more in New Providence, and the always exciting 12-and-under (12U) category will be decided in Rock Sound, Eleuthera.

The tournament will get started over the Labour Day Holiday weekend – June 6-9 in Freeport. The three divisions up for grabs in Freeport will be 6U, 16-and-under (16U) and 18-and-under (18U). A couple of weekends later, from June 20-23, the 12U division will be contested in Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Finally, from June 27-30, the eight-and-under (8U), 10-and-under (10U) and 14-and-under (14U) divisions will be determined in New Providence between the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) Field of Dreams Complex and the Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) Park.

Tournament Director Shane Albury said that they have heard the cry of the baseball community in the various islands, and they have acted upon it.

“We want to impact the economy on the different islands, so we decided to take heed to the wishes of the baseball community on the various islands and look at this from a national perspective as well as contribute toward domestic tourism,” said Albury. “Our goal is to grow the sport, and ensure that we expose the Family Island communities to the excitement of the nationals. We want to help the communities develop a greater interest in the sport, and we believe that this is one of the ways of doing that.”

The 2019 baseball nationals, the second one under the auspices of the BBA, is expected to draw teams from most, if not all, of the major islands in the Northern Bahamas.

At the Emera Baseball Complex in Freeport, North Abaco, the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) and JBLN are expected to compete in the 18U Division; the 16U Division will consist of the GBLL, Freedom Farm, JBLN, and possibly a team out of Andros. The exhibition Tee Ball (6U) Division will accommodate teams from the GBLL, the Legacy Baseball League and Freedom Farm.

In Eleuthera, the popular 12U Division will consist of teams from the Eleuthera Baseball League, the Community Baseball League, Freedom Farm, the GBLL, Legacy, JBLN, North Abaco and possibly a team out of Andros as well.

Finally, in New Providence, the 14U Division will be contested by teams from Legacy, the GBLL, Freedom Farm, the Community Baseball League, JBLN and North Abaco. In the 10U Division, teams from Legacy, the GBLL, Freedom Farm, JBLN, North Abaco and possibly a team out of Andros will compete; and in the 8U Division, teams from Legacy, the GBLL, Freedom Farm, JBLN and possibly a team out of the Berry Islands will battle.

“These changes will give our young athletes an opportunity to explore the islands of The Bahamas,” said BBA President Sam Rodgers yesterday. “Eleuthera is excited and ready to welcome the 12U teams. Work is being done on the parks in Rock Sound and Palmetto Point, and the baseball community there is excited. Grand Bahama is the home of the national championships, and they are ready to welcome the young baseball players back to that island, and we are excited to return home. Also, Freedom Farm and JBLN facilities are always in top shape and it would certainly be exciting to have a version of the nationals there. The economic impact cannot be understated as more than 1,000 athletes, coaches and supporting staff will be dispersed over the various islands for these championships. As always, these championships will attract high school coaches in the United States and college coaches to the islands of The Bahamas. It’s going to be a thrilling three weekends of baseball.”

Albury said the goal was to get as many islands involved in the championships as possible.

“We have three islands confirmed, and they are ready to go. We’re looking forward to it,” said Albury. “We cannot put this on without the assistance of our sponsors – the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), BAF Insurance, ATD Limited, Thompson Trading – Gatorade and Frito Lay, Cable Bahamas, Woslee Construction, FOCOL, Insurance Management, Summit Insurance, The Shoe Village and Aliv. We thank all of them for their contributions in making these championships the best ever.”

Chief Umpire Martin “Pork” Burrows said that his umpires are looking forward to the three island-three weekend approach of the BBA.

“Every year, most of us end up on Freeport, and the Freeport based umpires are happy because now they are going to get an opportunity to travel also. Also, most of the islands we go to, we will just have to concentrate on one field. This will give me a good opportunity to work closely with the umpires where I will be able to overlook them and also umpire with them. This is a great opportunity for all of the umpires to get better,” he said.

Hundreds of young baseball talented players on about 30 teams from various leagues throughout the country are expected to take part in the BBA nationals this year.

Sheldon Longley

Sports Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting
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