TODD Isaacs Sr – Don’t Blink Committee, Gina Gonzales-Rolle – Don’t Blink Committee, Todd Isaacs Jr, Lucius Fox, Harrison Thompson – Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Ted Adderley – Atlantis, Shazell Rolle – Rev, Lynden Maycock – LOC.
#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#The Don’t Blink Home Run Derby In Paradise continues to introduce new initiatives and will return to a familiar venue in 2022.
#Event organisers Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox officially launched the campaign to galvanise support for the fifth edition of the event, scheduled for December 13-18.
#“Five years of hosting anything in life is a blessing so we’re truly grateful, truly humbled and truly honoured, humbled and blessed that God gave us this opportunity to bring this vision to fruition, but not just for us baseball players but for The Bahamas in its entirety,” Isaacs said.
#“Today under the current administration ‘Sports In Paradise’ is one of their main mandates and it aligns so perfectly with our mission – to inspire the youth, give them opportunities to let sports lead them to the four corners of the world. Through the sports we have an opportunity to highlight The Bahamas for what it is, the beautiful beaches, the warm weather, and the welcoming people.”
#The only home-run derby in the world where players hit into the ocean, the unique concept showcases the natural aesthetic of the Bahamas and the country’s young baseball talent.
#The first three editions were hosted at the Montagu foreshore, before last year’s event shifted to the grounds of the Atlantis resort.
#This year’s event will relocate to its original location.
#“This is our favourite time of the year. We are here again and we are grateful that we get to put this show on for our Bahamian people,” Fox said. “We’re also excited that we will be moving back to Montagu. This is where we started, it’s easily accessible to the people and we look forward to them coming out, packing the beach and bringing out that love. Hopefully one day this will be the best event in the world.”
#In addition to the derby, the event has expanded to include a week-long schedule of activities. Players and guests will arrive December 13 and the following day will be the second edition of the Celebrity Softball game featuring derby participants and local influencers on December 14.
#On December 15, the participating players will host the annual kid’s clinic.
#Saturday, December 17 will be the main event at the Montagu foreshore.
#A new initiative to the week of festivities will be the Prayer to Praise event, featuring a concert by former minor league prospect turned gospel singer, Todd Delaney.
#Fox added that the organisation continues to expand its reach by partnering with several organisations, including the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Players Alliance.
#“We joined forces with MLBPA, executive Tony Clark and the members of his team. The MLBPA acts as the voice for all players in the game of baseball. We also have the Players Alliance,” he said. “This group is so special because they work hand in hand in minority communities to provide assistance, equipment and leadership to the youth. They make baseball accessible to all races and they give everyone a fair playing chance to learn the game, get introduced and hopefully make the most out of it. They have been instrumental in the United States so we look forward to what they can do here in The Bahamas.
#“The group was founded by Edwin Jackson, their President is Curtis Granderson and their Vice President is CC Sabathia. Accompanying them will be a list of legends and Hall of Famers that paved the way for us to play the game of baseball and we don’t take that for granted.”
#Bo Bichette of the Toronto Blue Jays won the inaugural event in 2018 and repeated as champion in 2019. Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson captured the title in 2020 and Kansas City Royals catcher MJ Melendez was the most recent winner in 2021.
#“Our goal of the event is to always use this as a platform to highlight our Bahamian baseball players, our Bahamian athletes, and just show what the Bahamas consists of – our natural beauty and these beaches. We have the best beaches in the world,” Isaacs said.
#“Being a baseball player, you wanted to really bring the two elements together. The most exciting part of the game, the home run, and then the most beautiful part of us being from The Bahamas, the beaches. So we decided to do something extremely crazy. Set up a stage and hit balls into the water.”
#Event sponsors include the Government of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Tourism, the Atlantis Resort, Rev TV, Chandler Bats, Bahamasair, Bahamas Waste, Heritage Seafood, Cancer Tratment Centers of America, A Sure Win, M and E Limited, Balso, Global Sun Intergration Management, Family Medicine Center, Triple A Marine, Harmony COnstruction, BBG Baseball Generations, Prime Shipping, Happy Healing Homecare, and C3 Propane.
#“It’s amazing for us to get this far. Everything is moving so fast, just having these sponsors believe in us and trust these young men to put on this event.
#“Just hearing us out was a plus for us. Just having our sponsors buy in to make this event bigger and better every year,” Fox said.
#“Sports has changed my life. It took me places I never knew existed. With more baseball being played, it creates more opportunities and more kids that can change their lives so we just want to inspire as many people as we can.
#“You can accomplish anything you put your mind to and there are different avenues to do that. Whatever we can do to impact this country we plan to do our best to do that.”
#The event has grown in stature to be showcased prominently by several international media outlets, including the MLB Network, and features both minor and major league prospects from around the league.
#Even organisers announced that the 2021 event garnered a reach of over eight million viewers through live streaming and various social media networks.
#“We play a sport that allows us to go places, see places, but, you know, at the end of the day, you have to really come home and use that platform to make it a better place. There were people before us, athletes before us, famous celebrities before us and their respective platforms that didn’t use their platform to build a bridge. We get to raise money, we get to do cool things. But the most important thing for us was to always find ways to get back in the community,” Isaacs said.
#Isaacs recently completed his second season in the Frontier League and is set to join a new cub – the Lake Eerie Crushers – in the 2023 season.
#In 50 games with the New Jersey Jackals, he totalled .327 batting average with 70 hits, including nine home runs, 34 RBI, scored 45 runs, with 22 stolen bases, slugging .505 with a .300 OBP.
#One of the seminal moments of the MLB season came on April 10 when Fox made his debut with the Washington Nationals to become the ninth Bahamian to reach the Major Leagues.
#In the final week of Spring Training, Fox was recalled from the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate (Rochester Red Wings) to the big league club and had an immediate opportunity at the opening week roster after several injuries to veterans in the Washington middle infield.
#When the Nationals hosted the Miami Marlins on April 27, Fox and Jazz Chisholm Jr became the first pair of Bahamas-born players to appear in the same MLB game in over 50 years.
#According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other pair of Bahamians to play in the same game were Andre Rodgers and Tony Curry, who faced each other six times during the 1960 and 1961 seasons.