Sports

And so it begins!

In essence, Bahamian professional baseball player Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm came within a single run of getting his first major league plate appearance and possibly being the game-winning run for the Miami Marlins in their game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Chisholm entered a 2-2 tied game for Marlins starting shortstop Miguel Rojas in the top of the eighth, and immediately made an impact, recording an out on a line drive from Blue Jays lead-off hitter Cavan Biggio. For at least a half of an inning, Bahamians everywhere were tuned in as news quickly broke that Chisholm was seeing action in the majors. After a pitching change, the Marlins retired the next two batters in order in the top of the eighth and newcomer Starling Marte belted a huge go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the eighth. Chisholm was up to bat second in the bottom of the ninth but Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect top of the ninth for his eighth save, sealing the 3-2 for the Marlins. The win ended an eight-game home losing streak for the Marlins and pushed them back above a .500 win/loss record (16-15) in the race for a playoff spot in the National League.

The Marlins find themselves in second place in the National League East Division, just a game in the loss column, and three overall, behind the Atlanta Braves. They are tied for the second wild card spot in the National League.

Veteran outfielder Marte came over to the Marlins in a deadline day trade on Tuesday – the same day Chisholm was called up to the majors from the Marlins’ alternate training site in Jupiter, Florida.

“‘Jazz’ has been there (Jupiter) the whole time. He’s been working, and we felt like he was the right guy for this time period,” said Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, a legendary player with the New York Yankees.

After four years in the minors, the 22-year-old Bahamian made his much anticipated debut in Major League Baseball (MLB) Tuesday night, becoming just the seventh Bahamian to play in the majors. Chisholm joins Andre Rodgers who was the pacesetter with the New York Giants, now San Francisco Giants, in 1957; Anthony “Tony” Curry with the Phillies in 1960; two-time World Series Champion Ed Armbrister with the Cincinnati Reds in 1973; Wenty Ford with the Atlanta Braves in 1973; Wilfred “Sudgy” Culmer with the Cleveland Indians in 1983; and finally Antoan Richardson with the Braves in 2011.

“The Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) congratulates ‘Jazz’ Chisholm for making Bahamian history,” said BOC President Romell “Fish” Knowles. “‘Jazz’ and many young Bahamian baseball stars are in the system. I wish to congratulate all of the support baseball leagues throughout The Bahamas for their dedication, which opens the door for ‘Jazz’ and many others. I say thank you to all the support personnel in baseball, our sponsors and parents for their trust in the tutelage provided by our many volunteers.”

BBA President Sam Rodgers said that with the right strategy and investment, sports in The Bahamas will pay huge dividends in the immediate future.

Chisholm came up locally through Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) and was obtained during the international signing period by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. He spent four seasons with the Diamondbacks and was dealt to the Marlins in July of 2019. Chisholm is a former Diamondbacks minor league player of the year and has been invited to the last two spring trainings – one with the Diamondbacks and the other with the Marlins.

He is regarded as a talented shortstop who can hit for power and average and is a steady defensive infielder. For two teams in Double-A baseball last year, Chisholm batted .220 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs while stealing 16 bases in 20 attempts. He hit 25 home runs the year before, leading both levels in home runs among shortstops for two consecutive years. Defensively, Chisholm had a career-high .955 fielding percentage, with 131 putouts, 249 assists and was a part of 48 double plays in 2019. He only had 18 errors in 943.1 innings, and is regarded as a defensive-minded shortstop with deceptive power. Chisholm is a career .255 hitter in the minors with 56 home-runs and 173 RBIs in four seasons.

Skipping Triple-A baseball, he received his major league call-up on Tuesday and was immediately inserted into the Marlins game last night after starting shortstop Rojas experienced a sore abdomen in the top of the eighth. With Rojas listed as day-to-day, it is quite likely that Chisholm got the starting nod last night when the Marlins hosted the Blue Jays for the second game of a two-game set at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. However, going forward, he is expected to get looks at second with Rojas entrenched as the starter at shortstop.

“Who knows where this goes…but for now, ‘Jazz’ is a guy that’s going to be part of our club,” said Mattingly. “We just move forward until whenever. He may never ever leave here, right? You don’t know that. These young guys, they could go back and forth, but some guys come up one day and just say, ‘You know what? I’m never leaving’, and they prove it.

“He’s working hard and actually been playing quite a bit of second base, and that’s kind of where we see his niche or fit with our club, playing some second, maybe giving him a day at short now and then. ‘Jazz’ is part of the club right now, so we’ll try to fit him in and set him up to have success and put him in good situations.”

BOC President Knowles said that Bahamian professional baseball players like Chisholm represent the dreams and aspirations of hundred of youth practicing sports throughout the country.

“It’s high time sports be given the financial leverage it so deserves,” he said. “It’s ironic there seems to be no appreciation for the sacrifices administrators, coaches and athletes make on a daily basis in their particular sport on behalf of country. I hope soon and very soon sports will not be an afterthought; and those in authority will appreciate that our sporting accomplishments are more than a feel good emotional moment. ‘Jazz’s’ accomplishment is a breath of fresh air whereby all in the sporting fraternity and Bahamians everywhere can boast and be proud of. Thank you ‘Jazz’ for reigniting the torch of inspiration for so many and congratulations again.”

Chisholm and the Marlins travel to Tampa to face the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game set on the weekend before going to Atlanta for three games early next week. It’s likely that the phenomenal Bahamian could be in the lineup this weekend as he continues to make a dent in the sport of baseball among Bahamians in the majors.

Halfway through a COVID-19-shortened 60-game season, the Marlins are right in the midst of a playoff push and the talented Bahamian could certainly provide a major boost.

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Sheldon Longley

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.

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