The Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) came down hard on Greg Burrows Jr. and Sr. over the weekend, handing out penalties for infractions it deemed inappropriate, damning and damaging to the image of baseball, and by extension sports, in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The governing body for baseball in the country handed down a 15-year suspension for Greg Jr. and a five-year suspension for Greg Sr., prohibiting them from national team duties and the representation of The Bahamas internationally, in baseball, for the foreseeable future.
For his role in the incident involving umpire Edaine Cannister, of Curaçao, Burrows Jr. is banned for 15 years from all local and international baseball competition in any capacity including and not limited to player, coach, manager, official, executive and organizer in The Bahamas. He can appeal to the BBA for reinstatement after, and not before, 10 years of his suspension.
Burrows Sr. is banned for five years from all local and international baseball competition in any capacity including and not limited to coach, manager, official, executive and organizer in The Bahamas. He, too, has the power of appeal.
During the Babe Ruth Caribbean Baseball Championship and Invitational at the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Stadium three weeks ago, on the final day of the 16-and-Under (16U) invitational, Burrows Jr. voiced his displeasure with a decision made by home plate umpire Cannister in a semifinal game between The Bahamas and Puerto Rico, which led to Burrows eventually being ejected from the game.
According to reports, Burrows questioned an article of clothing worn by the Puerto Rican pitcher under his hat. Cannister said he ruled that the garment was not white and not in violation of the rules of baseball for that particular tournament. He said he allowed the game to continue and after further disruptions in relation to the same issue, he threw Burrows out of the game.
Greg Jr., on the other hand, said that the article of clothing was a clear violation of the rules, and initially the umpire asked the pitcher to remove it, but in the following inning, he allowed the game to continue with the pitcher again wearing the garment.
Cannister went on to say that he was physically attacked by Greg Jr. in the locker room after the game, but Greg Jr. dispelled that notion, saying that all he did was throw some water on him. Cannister said it was much more than that. He said he filed a report to Babe Ruth League on the incident, and at the end of the day, he’s just relieved that no serious damage was done and that he didn’t suffer any major injury.
Greg Sr. is the commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball Caribbean Region and was the head of the protest committee for the tournament. According to Cannister, Greg Sr. interrupted the umpire in the carrying out of his duties in an effort to protect and defend his son. It was also revealed that Greg Sr. demanded the replacement of the umpires in the game, overstepping his boundary as the commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball Caribbean Region.
Cannister said he wasn’t backing down and by no means would have allowed Greg Jr. to re-enter the game as a coach. In the end, he filed legal action against Burrows Jr. in hopes of bringing the matter to a resolve.
Legal representative Tony Scriven, another legal representative Keith Seymour, Bahamian professional scout Brian Armbrister and former local player/administrator Tommy Stubbs made up the four-man committee charged with investigating and overseeing the matter. Scriven served as the chairman of the panel.
Cannister, an umpire for more than 40 years, filed a report to tournament organizers, the BBA, and to the Babe Ruth League on the incident, and is also pursuing the matter legally.
At the end of the day, The Bahamas lost the game to Puerto Rico 6-5 and ended up playing North Netherlands in the bronze medal game. They won that game, 8-0. The Bahamas’ 12-and-Under (12U) team finished fifth. The Bahamas won both divisions in 2022.
The 12U Division was a qualifier for the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series at Ballparks of America in Branson, Missouri, and the invitational 16U Division featured a number of quality teams from the region, the United States (US) and as far away as Europe.
The BBA issued a statement, mentioning that it understands that this is a grave matter that can affect The Bahamas’ tourism product, and in particular, the game of baseball throughout The Bahamas when it comes to hosting any games or sporting events in the future.
It’s a situation that could have damaging effects on The Bahamas as a major sports tourism outlet, could stain relationships between local and international baseball officials, and could result in sanctions being passed down from a major international baseball organization to The Bahamas.
Over 200 athletes from countries from around the region, the US and as far away as Europe took part in the five-day tournament. Aruba emerged as the champion in both divisions and Puerto Rico was the runner-up both times. There was no bronze medal game in the 12U Division and The Bahamas won the bronze in the 16U Invitational.