He was an ordinary young man who worked on a cruise ship.
When he came to port at home, young Frankie Sweeting changed into a remarkable pitcher, one of the early diamond heroes in the history of baseball in The Bahamas. Indeed, he is a folklore item.
There are still those around, Asa Ferguson, “Geeks” Clarke, who remember the excitement and anticipation that captivated the baseball family in the capital island of New Providence when Sweeting arrived aboard ship, just in time to be collected and taken to Clifford Park to work his magic from the pitching mound.
They called him “Cinderella” and he went on to build a legacy in sports through baseball, of high quality.
Sweeting passed on over the weekend and I had reason once again to lament the manner in which so many of our true national heroes are not given full credit in life for their accomplishments.
Today, reading this column, will give many the first real understanding of a magnificent athlete who belied his slight physical stature to record gigantic performances. Sweeting was an elegant individual, somewhat low-key at times, but with the fierce determination to achieve at the highest level, at whatever task he undertook.
His baseball deeds were phenomenal locally, and indeed internationally. In 1969, the Bahamian National Team endeared itself to the fans at the National Baseball Congress Tournament in Wichita, Kansas. The Bahamas won three games and Sweeting was the pitching stalwart. The performance remains to date, the greatest by a senior baseball team in our history.
The following is a paragraph from a column I produced previously, that captured a special moment in time.
“It was a Camelot time for Bahamian baseball. Infused in Vincent Ferguson and his merry men, inclusive of batboy Mario Ford, was a high level of sophistication about that particular period. Ferguson’s players understood the arts, Junkanoo, music of the variety of the Blues, Jazz, Rock N’ Roll; Broadway shows and stars like Robert Goulet who sang the theme song in the classic production “Camelot” like no other has been able to do.”
Frankie Sweeting related very much to that period of the Golden Era of Sports, along with such names as Bertie Murray, Roosevelt Turner, Bummie Albury, Lloyd Bowleg, Roy Rodgers, Anthony Huyler, Eddie Ford, Asa Ferguson, Allan Jackson, Bernie Turnquest, umpires Roderick Forbes and Arthur Thompson, statisticians Jeff Williams, Chris Ferguson and Bob Sumner, Charles Williams, Penny Bain, York Rolle and the MVP baseball fan/supporter Cornelius “Money” Williams.
Frankie sweeting blended in very well with the aforementioned, as he did generally in Bahamian society.
I have vivid memories of the “Cinderella Man” on a baseball mound and behind a set of drums on stage at the legendary night spot, the Banana Boat.
He has gone on now.
May his soul forever rest in peace!
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).