Long overdue decision made to focus on Rodgers Stadium

ANDRE RODGERS

One of the fabled sporting facilities in the country was torn down in 2005 as the government of that time opted to begin another phase towards the completion of the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.

I was there that day as a heavy-duty tractor ploughed through the wall that enclosed both the Andre Rodgers Baseball Diamond and the Churchill Tener-Knowles Softball Complex. It was a very apprehensive occasion for me. Two main locations of competitions were being demolished and there was no guarantee that the new structures would be started anytime soon thereafter.

Indeed, 13 years later, at the new Andre Rodgers Stadium site (across from the Government High School at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Center’s southernmost section), where construction began about two years ago, building works have re-started. I congratulate the Government of The Bahamas for moving through the Ministry of Sports to get the construction process going once again.

This is a significant moment in time for the sport of baseball, that has been for more than 60 years, one of the beloved pastimes in the country.

The demolition of 2005 really ended an era. My book, A Modern Perspective of the UBP speaks to the official opening of two major components of the Queen Elizabeth’s Sports Centre.

A section from a chapter in the book, “The UBP’s Contribution to Sports” reads as follows:

“On September 2, 1966 (four short months before it lost political control of the country to the Progressive Liberal Party) the UBP Government officially opened the sports centre with a focus on two facilities, the Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium and Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium.

“It was a very special day in the country’s history and the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre was to become the hallmark sports complex in the nation. On that “opening day” certificates of merit were given to outstanding Bahamians in sports. They were Thomas Robinson and Timothy Barrett (athletics); Gomeo Brennan (boxing); Durward Knowles, Sloane Farrington and Cecil Cooke (sailing); Kingsley Poitier (bodybuilding); Andre Rodgers (baseball); and Father Marcian Peters (voluntary services to youth and sports).”

The baseball stadium was named in honor of Rodgers, because he was the first Bahamian to play the sport professionally. He got his first taste of professional baseball in 1954 and signed to play with the New York Giants in the National League in 1957. He played also with the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates of the Major Leagues until 1967 and ended his pro career in Japan in 1969.

In 1966, baseball got a new home, after playing for 14 years at Clifford Park. The early era of organized baseball had evolved into a new period. Clifford Park was the venue where the first set of Bahamian professional baseball players went through their initial development paces. The Andre Rodgers Stadium was to give birth to scores more professionals. The old Andre Rodgers Stadium hosted Major League teams, the Angeles Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was indeed an era perhaps more glorified, depending on just who one speaks to, than the tenure of the sport at Clifford Park.

Now, we look forward to a new era in the baseball history of The Bahamas, when the first game is played at the new state-of-the art facility in about another two years or so.

Hopefully the construction work will continue now, without any more interruptions.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.

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