Richardson talks national team baseball, youth movement

As of Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Antoan Richardson


#Tribune Sports Reporter

#ACCORDING to Bahamian baseball pioneer Antoan Richardson, the continued success of Bahamian players with the Great Britain Baseball programme should intensify efforts for The Bahamas to field its own independent senior national team.

#Richardson, the first base coach for the San Francisco Giants, said that watching Bahamian players lead the charge for Great Britain to its first World Baseball Classic appearance last month, should prompt stakeholders to take decisive action.

#“It’s like mixed emotions, I’m excited for all of the players that got a chance to play on that stage and now get a chance to potentially play in the WBC but on the other side of it, it’s heart wrecking to know that we as a country don’t have a team. It’s just really important now to figure out how to make that happen,” Richardson said.

#“It’s just been way too long, I think since I was a teenager we have been talking about being better at the politics around baseball and 20 years later we are still having some of the same conversations. I just think we have to do a better job of getting together, and figuring this thing out so that the next time we have this conversation we are excited about the Bahamian team and not necessarily the Great Britain team. But I’m definitely excited for all the young players who got a chance to experience that and now get to go to the classic.”

#It was the third time Bahamians have been a part of a Great Britain roster at the WBC Qualifiers. Richardson and Albert Cartwright were the first to join the roster when Great Britain made its debut at the 2013 Qualifiers in Regensburg, Germany. The team finished 1-2.

#At the 2017 Qualifiers in Brooklyn, New York, Richardson and Cartwright were joined by Ali Knowles, Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm Jr, Kyle Simmons, Todd Isaacs, Reshard Munroe, Byron Murray and Champ Stuart. That team finished just one game shy of WBC qualification when they suffered a 9-1 loss in the final.

#This year at the 2022 Qualifiers, it was Anfernee Seymour, D’Shawn Knowles, Tahnaj Thomas, Chavez Fernander, Ural Forbes and Cartwright making the transition to first base coach that led Great Britain to an undefeated record in Regensburg, Germany.

#Bahamian players are eligible to compete for Great Britain once their parents were born in the Bahamas while it was still a British colony, prior to Independence.

#Great Britain is currently ranked no.23 in the world by the World Baseball/Softball Confederation (WBSC) while The Bahamas is ranked at no.80. To achieve a higher ranking and gain eligibility for international events, The Bahamas is required to gain points by competing in regional Pan American Baseball Confederation (COPABE) events. COPABE is the governing body for baseball in the Americas.

#The path toward gaining those points begins in earnest when The Bahamas hosts the Caribbean Cup December 4-11 at the Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium. The Caribbean Cup will feature The Bahamas joining visiting teams from the US Virgin Islands, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Colombia, Aruba, Peru, and Cuba, all vying for a spot at the Central American and Caribbean Games, scheduled for next year in El Salvador.

#According to the WBSC, the last international tournament for The Bahamas was the 2018 U18 men’s baseball World Cup Qualifier for the Americas in Panama. The last senior men’s national team to compete was at the 2009 World Baseball Challenge in British Colombia, Canada.

#Richardson also said the country’s continued influx of talent available for these tournaments and headed into the professional ranks, warrants continued support and infrastructure to help transition those players along their respective career paths.

#“My personal hope is that we just get a little bit more guys into the major leagues and then we get a little bit more players developing at a higher level,” Richardson said.

#“It’s how we invest into the futures of these young players and giving them all the resources they need to get to the major leagues.”

#Sebastian Walcott and Janero Miller were recently listed among the top 20 International Prospects for the class of 2023 by MLB Pipeline. The Bahamas is one of only three countries with multiple players listed in the top 50. Walcott was ranked no.8 while Miller, was ranked at no.16. It was also the second consecutive year a Bahamian was ranked in the top 10. San Francisco Giants infielder Ryan Reckley was ranked no.9 in the class of 2022.

#“Every year we seem to be pushing out new talent and that’s exciting. Baseball has come a long way in the last 15 years in The Bahamas. To be able to witness it, to see the genesis of where it is now and think to where it can be is really exciting,” Richardson said.

#“I really want to encourage the federations and the people in charge to kind of get behind this thing and get the right people in the room and start talking about how we can be better for our baseball community because there’s a lot of talent that we need to support.”

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