BASEBALL in the Bahamas has experienced a resurgence in recent years with milestones at both the local developmental and international level. Now the local governing body seeks assistance for their elite athletes in the sport.
With the ascension of Antoan Richardson to the Major Leagues, the Bahamas Baseball Federation has engaged in dialogue to add baseball players to the list of athletes receiving subvention from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
BBF president Craig Kemp said the BBF would make formal declaration to the Ministry in the near future to offer financial assistance to the federation’s elite athletes.
With Richardson in the Major Leagues, Albert Cartwright (Philadelphia Phillies) and Sean Albury (Milwaukee Brewers) are the remaining Bahamian players in the MLB Minor Leagues.
In order to start this process, the BBF will first have to file an application to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
“We have other players who are in the professional major and minor league programmes, who we believe are struggling financially. If subvention is an avenue that the government is continuing to take, then we will certainly make applications for those players,” Kemp said.
“We have two other players in the minor leagues, and Antoan. While we might say he is a professional, he probably has not had a great pay day yet. I am sure he will still be appreciative of the subvention. Like I said, if they are going to continue to do the programme, it is our intention to make applications for our athletes this year.”
Athletes from several current disciplines are on the subvention list, including track and field, swimming, boxing, tennis, basketball, volleyball, snowboarding and golf.
“It is something that we are now deliberating (on). Maybe we might hold off on that until we get a unified vision, more or less, on moving forward with this subvention programme,” Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard said.
“He (Antoan) is a professional player and he is getting paid to play, so I don’t know. Like I said, nothing has been put forth by the baseball federation to the ministry. We are now working with the baseball federation.”
The final word on the list of athletes receiving subvention will come as a result of an investigation being launched by the Ministry to ensure the funds allocated are being spent in the proper manner.
The Ministry will also address the search for a unified home for baseball in the Bahamas.
“We look forward to a national home for baseball. As you know, in accordance to the master plan for the Sports Centre Development Project, provisions for multiple fields were made. There is a spot designated for a baseball facility that includes multiple fields and a baseball stadium. We are now working with the baseball federation, getting some drawings done and so forth, for the design of the facility,” he said. “We hope to start the facility as soon as we can, as soon as the budgetary plans allow us to do so.”
Richardson joined the late Andre Rodgers, Wentie Ford, Wilfred Culmer and Tony Curry, as well as Ed Armbrister, the only Major Leaguer from that era still alive.
Armbrister was known for his time at one of the two World Series he played in for the Cincinnati Reds.
During the Budget Communication in June, Maynard reaffirmed the government’s support of the subvention programme, which was to the benefit of over 50 athletes.
“The government continued its policy of assisting athletes directly and indirectly in their preparation and training in their various sporting disciplines saw a total of 53 athletes actively competing. These athletes benefited from the programme at a cost of $1 million during this fiscal period.
“With this being an Olympic year, we expect to see even more athletes added and to see this programme grow even more.”
With the upcoming year expected to be a busy one for the Bahamas locally and internationally, Maynard noted his ministry will continue its mandate of supporting all sporting avenues.