Sports

Don’t Blink Derby set for January

The Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby is back, and it promises to be bigger and better than the inaugural one, as there are more participants, a kids camp is being introduced, and a team competition component is added to create an extra flair.

The 2nd Annual Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby is set for January 5, 2019. A kids camp will be held at Atlantis on January 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the main event of the weekend, the derby, is set for January 5 once again at Montagu Bay. The derby featuring more than 30 participants will get underway at noon, and there will be jet skis in the water to collect the balls.

This time around, a total of 20 Bahamian professional and former professional players are set to take part in the derby, and they will be joined by 13 foreign players. Also, four major leaguers and two former major leaguers are set to make an appearance.

The event is once again being staged as a joint venture of two of The Bahamas’ more noted professional players – Lucius Fox and Todd Isaacs Jr. – and it is powered by REV for the second year in a row.

“From day one, Todd and I just wanted to do something for the Bahamian people and something involving Bahamians,” said Fox yesterday. “The youth is the future and we take it among ourselves to help out in any way that we can.

“We are very happy with the turnout we had last year for what we hope was the first of many. We wanted to inspire as many kids as possible and I feel like we were able to do that. We wanted to bring back something that the kids could enjoy.

“We made some adjustments that will bring more excitement. The whole idea is to make it bigger and better every year. This year we have a team format that we are introducing. It is definitely going to be a fun-filled event and one that you do not want to miss.

“Building on the experience from the first one, everyone wants to be a part of it going forward, but we have to showcase Bahamian talent first and foremost. Going forward, we might have to make it more than a one-day event just to accommodate more participants.

“To see it actually happen last year and how much people enjoyed it, that made us happy. The joy on people’s faces and how many lil kids we touched was great to see.”

Fox said that local and international players are excited to be a part of the event that is expected to once again carry into the evening on January 5 and climax with fireworks into the evening sky.

Set to participate are Fox (Tampa Bay Rays), Isaacs (Cleveland Indians), fellow Bahamian players Jasrado Chisholm, Dominique Collie and Kristian Robinson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Larry Alcime and Tahnaj Thomas from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Courtney Smith and Keithron Moss who play in the Texas Rangers’ system, Trent Deveaux and D’Shawn Knowles from the Los Angeles Angels, Anfernee Seymour of the Miami Marlins, Reshard Munroe from the Cincinnati Reds, Chavez Young who plays in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system, D’Vaughn Knowles of the New York Yankees, Orveo Saint from the Milwaukee Brewers, Warren Saunders out of the New York Mets’ farm system and Chavez Fernander who plays in the Detroit Tigers’ system. Former Bahamian professional players Shameko Smith and Jervis “Champ” Stuart are also expected to take part.

The international line-up includes defending champion Bo Bichette of the Blue Jays’ system, Tyler Frank and Josh and Nate Lowe from the Rays’ system, Will Benson, Nolan Jones, Triston McKenzie, Juan Hillman and Alexis Pantoja from the Indians, Shed Long and Johnathan India from the Reds, Nick Gordon of the Minnesota Twins and Monte Harrison from the Marlins.

The major leaguers who will be in town for the event are Billy Hamilton from the Kansas City Royals, Tommy Pham of the Rays, Lewis Brinson from the Marlins and Touki Touissant of the Atlanta Braves. Also former major leaguers Charles Johnson and D’ante Bichette, father of Bo Bichette, are expected to make an appearance.

Participants will be drafted into teams – Team Fox and Team Isaacs – and there will be a team title as well as an individual title. The top four from each team will advance further to compete for the individual home run king title.

“REV is very proud to announce that we will remain the title sponsor for the 2nd Annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in paradise,” said Melissa Colebrooke, REV Cable Bahamas Marketing Manager. “We are looking forward to seeing all of our home-grown athletes come down and celebrating with them. We celebrate their success and that of all of our Bahamian athletes who are pursuing their dreams and doing so well. Todd and Lucius’ vision for giving back to the Bahamian community and showcasing the success of young Bahamian men in our community is one that REV continues to support wholeheartedly.

“We are truly proud to partner with Todd and Lucius on this venture. It’s been a wonderful addition to the REV family. These young men are doing something positive and we’re happy to assist.

“This is going to be a family event and we want the whole family to come out and have some fun.”

The event will be carried live on Our TV and streamed on REV Cable Bahamas Facebook page. Through the REVGO Play app, the event will be aired live free of charge for the REVTV subscribers.

“We want to thank REV and other sponsors such as Atlantis, Global Sun Integration Mgmt., the Ministry of Tourism, Bahamasair, ICS Security Concepts, Aliv, Bahamas Waste Ltd., Heritage Seafood Ltd., Bahamas Experience Tours, Triple A Marine, Direct Air Cargo, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Quality Home Centre, Orry J. Sands Co. Ltd., Family Medicine Center, JBR Building Supplies Ltd., Tops Lumber and Plumbing Ltd., Powerade, TCBY, Paragon Sports, MVP Sports, Pop Up Physios and Avar Media,” said Fox.

“We always say to each other that we never have an opportunity to play in front of our people, so this is a way of showcasing what we could do and how exciting baseball is as a sport,” he continued. “I never dreamt of going all the places where I’ve been and meeting all the people I’ve met and that is because of baseball. I want other young people coming up behind me to have that opportunity. The Bahamian people are beginning to open their eyes to baseball players on the island and hopefully the sport could continue to grow.”

The kids camp the day before will be for youngsters from age seven and up. It will be held at Atlantis.

“We encourage as much youngsters as possible to come out, work out with the pros, and learn as much as you can,” said Fox. “It will be a fun-filled experience that you don’t want to miss.”

The charities supported by the event this ear are the Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group and the Cancer Society of The Bahamas. Last year, organizers were able to donate a number of baseball equipment to youth organizations in The Bahamas from the proceeds collected.

Representing Fox’s partner Todd Isaacs Jr. was his father Todd Isaacs Sr., who said that it is going to be a fun-filled event and all about giving back to charity.

“As you could see, the line-up has grown and it will be bigger and better than last year’s event,” he said. “At this level, our boys are representing us – the Bahamian people. We are putting it out there so that you could come and see the level where they are at. We want to be able to inspire the young kids because they are the future. We could see the doors being open in Major League Baseball for our kids.”

Diamondbacks minor league player of the year Chisholm, who along with Fox were the only Bahamians to play in the Arizona fall League this year, said that he is excited to once again be a part of the line-up. When asked why he should be drafted first, Chisholm quipped that all the home-runs that he hit this year should suffice. Splitting time between two teams, the 20-year-old shortstop batted .272 with 25 home-runs and 70 RBIs. He had 124 hits and stole 17 bases.

“Last year’s event was exciting for me. It was amazing to see the kids come up to us and express an interest in playing baseball,” he said. “For parents to come up to me and say that we made their kids want to play baseball was a blessing for me because that is what it’s all about – to inspire the next generation, keep this thing going and instill in them a desire to be something in life.”

Larry Alcime, a 20-year-old outfielder with the Pirates, said he has been working very hard and expects to perform well.

“I loved to see the kids’ enthusiasm – going after the balls, even into the water. That was the most exciting part for me last year,” he said.

Dominique Collie, a 19-year-old outfielder with the Diamondbacks, said that it was great to see so many people come out to support them last year.

“To see the smiles on the kids’ faces was thrilling, and for them to remember months down the road, still asking about, shows that the enthusiasm was there,” he said.

Keithron Moss, a 17-year-old infielder in the Rangers’ system, said last year’s event was just about having fun and going out there and collectively showcasing their talent.

“Giving back to the kids was the main part of it for me – just interacting with the kids and signing autographs,” he said.

He is excited to once again be a part of the line-up.

During the derby on January 5, the two main youth baseball organizations in the country, the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) and the Freedom Farm Baseball League, will have booths set up at Montagu showcasing what they have to offer, and there will be entertainment as well.

The derby itself is expected to once again be a tremendous success.

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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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