There has not been any competitive baseball in The Bahamas since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sport to a halt, and there is no timeline as to when the sport will resume and when it does, Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) President Samuel Rodgers expects a drop-off in numbers at first.
Rodgers hinted toward that when he appeared as a guest on the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Sports View: The New Normal. The virtual discussion was hosted by Jurelle Mullings, who is the Ministry of Education’s Scholarship and Educational Loan Division’s Student-Athlete Resources and Support (STARS) Programme coordinator.
“It’s hard to predict at this time,” Rodgers said. “My estimation is I feel that at the beginning, we may have a little drop-off. Some of the parents might feel that it is not that safe to allow their children to participate, but I think that as we begin this season and as it goes on, I think it will pick up, eventually getting back to normalcy,” Rodgers said. “It will be just like Major League Baseball (MLB) and the NBA (National Basketball Association). When they started in a bubble, there were a lot of players who refused to participate because it was uncertain as to how it would be with this pandemic going on. The pandemic will play a valuable role on how interesting baseball will be at the beginning when we get the okay to restart.”
The two main local baseball leagues, the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) and the Freedom Farm Baseball League, had made provisions to resume their seasons in June. However, with an aggressive second wave of COVID-19 cases in the country coming on stream, tighter restrictions were brought forward by the Government of The Bahamas, and the 2020 seasons were never completed. Freedom Farm, in particular, canceled its season.
Apart from addressing a baseball restart in the country, Rodgers spoke about Bahamian professional baseball players and the assistance they need. He said that at the level some of the players are playing at, the salaries are significantly low.
“One of the things that I know, when we met with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, we talked about how best we can assist our senior baseball players. In track and field, some athletes get subventions, so I was looking along those same lines to find a way to assist our players depending on what their needs are. That conversation will continue. Most of the government offices for the past eight to nine months were closed. I did not get a second opportunity to sit down with the ministry to continue that conversation. I can say that from where I sit, I will definitely be pushing hard to see how best we can assist our ball players with what their needs are, one way or the other,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said he has spoken to Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm since Chisholm became the seventh Bahamian to play in MLB. Chisholm was called up to the Miami Marlins active roster in early September. He played in 21 regular season games and one playoff game in this COVID-19 shortened season.
Rodgers won the presidency for the federation unopposed at their elections in late September. One of the things he has on his mind is to make baseball active on the Family Islands.
“If you look at our Family Islands – which is first and foremost on my mind – like San Salvador, Bimini, Inagua, Exuma, who I think have the capability with the amount of young people on those islands, they can start baseball leagues. Some have already approached me saying they would like to start but facilities are a big problem. One of the things that I will be embarking on with the ministry is to see how best they can assist me in getting mini baseball complexes in these Family Islands to get baseball started,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers believes the only way that the BBA can stage a national baseball championships is if 80 to 90 percent of the leagues in the country are involved. That is one of the things that they are looking forward to doing.
A round table discussion series was set to continue last night with the Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF), the Bahamas Cycling Federation (BCF) and the Bahamas Triathlon Association (BTA) taking seats around the table. The discussions got underway November 17 and will run until November 30 on a nightly basis starting at 7 p.m. on the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Facebook page.