Sixty-six years of organized baseball
The Rich History of the Sport of Baseball in the Bahamas.
Sixty-six years of organized baseball. For the most part, before the formation of the BBA in 1954, baseball played. Mr. George Ferguson would go out to the American Naval ships tied up in Nassau Harbor and bring the sailors to play baseball against the young local players. Moreover, games played at the Southern Recreation Grounds, known as “The Government Grounds.”
Furthermore, there was a district league in those days that played some games in those days. Hence, the island had three teams, the Westerners, Easterners, and the Southerners, with each district having its team.
The Formation of the BBA.
In early 1954, a visiting Canadian school teacher named Harry Joynes saw the raw athletic talent of one Andre Rodgers. Then, he recommended him to the New York Giants for a try-out with their baseball organization.
Moreover, this was a good gesture of confidence in his ability on Mr. Joynes’s part even though Andre had never played the game of baseball. As a result, Andre succeeded in the try-out, then got awarded a contract to play in the Giants system that year, becoming the first known Bahamian to play professional baseball, regarded as America’s favorite pastime.
Hence, his success led to the formation of the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) in late 1954. Thus, the first official grouping for baseball in the Bahamas was formed on Wednesday, August 28, 1954, creating the name Bahamas Baseball Association. This meeting took place in the old Y.M.C.A building on Cockburn Street in the historic area of Nassau is known as Grants Town. Thus was the beginning of Organized Baseball.
The BBA Founding Members:
The Association’s founding members were The Southern Eagles Baseball Team, the Winnie Ann Reds, the Amateur Athletics Association, and the Western Sporting Club. Mr. E. S. Stanley Mitchell was elected President, and Mr. Reno Brown as Secretary, becoming pioneers of Game in the Bahamas. The other initial officers were Mr. Joseph Moses, First Vice President, and last but not least, Mr. George Gardiner, Treasurer. All in all, these four men formed a great Executive team working together and striving for one main objective. League play started on Clifford Park in November of 1954.
The First Teams in the BBA:
Teams were the Westerns, Blue Sox, Falcons, Amateur Athletics, Jets, Southern Eagles, Ahepa, Braves, Comets, St Bernard’s, and Cee Bees. As mentioned earlier, Mr. E. S. Mitchell and Mr. Reno Brown were the two individuals who were primarily instrumental in baseball and the continued success since that historic day in August of 1954. The Falcons won the first championship. In 1957, the Bahamas Baseball Association officially became a member of the National Baseball Congress of America. In addition, the N.B.C had a Global Baseball Program, which covered all the Countries in the World.
In the meantime, the growth of the game was rapid and successful, growing year by year. To begin with, the local league became a hotbed for MLB scouts who signed many players to minor league contracts.
Sixty-six years of organized baseball saw 22 players signing to play minor league baseball from 1954 to 1969. Also, many others went to camps. Hence, this rapid growth saw more and more players, teams, and games playing, which saw the game outgrowing the playing field on the western Fort.
The Move to the Sports Center:
In 1966, after the sport outgrew the field on the Western Fort, the league relocated to Queen Elizabeth Sports Center; what a treat for the game of baseball. Hence this moved saw more games and more players assigned to minor league teams.
Part II a little later; stay tuned.