Unsung sports historian Cliffy “Nine” Moss passes

KENTUCKY COLONELS OF EARLY 1970S – Cliffy “Nine” Moss, kneeling at left, was on the 1973 Kentucky Colonels Bahamas Amateur Basketball Association Paradise League Championship squad. Also kneeling are Roosevelt “Bruso” Turner at center, and Jimmy Bostwick at right. At rear from left are: Dewitt Hanna, sponsor Bill Claridge, Cecil Thompson, Anthony Bostwick, Sterling Quant, Eddie Ford, Keith “Beelzebub” Smith, and Wenty Ford, Sharon “The General” Storr and Phil “Cabbage” Poitier were to join the Colonels later on.  

SPORTS SCOPE SPECIAL

Cliffy “Nine” Moss departed this side of eternity last week Monday, and the Bahamian sporting fraternity lost a historian of the highest order. No other was better than him, in my view, and few were his equal. Moss was unsung, but there were those in that high intelligence sports circle, who recognized always, his tremendous memory for individuals, dates and locations that were linked to milestones, in a variety of disciplines.

Moss was actually a student of sports history and he could easily go back into the 1930s, in some cases, prior, and recapture events for his audiences, as though he was a spectator on the many occasions of athletic excellence.

I would venture that his knowledge of the best, the average and the not so good, reached far beyond Bahamian borders from all points; into the United States; throughout the Caribbean; across the pond in the United Kingdom, and other European territories; Asia; Africa; and Australia.

He kept current throughout his life on who’s who in sports, up until, very recently, when it became clear, he was losing the battle to live on. Moss knew all of the upcoming stars and was keen enough to pick, often, the ones who would be particularly great.

I recall in the autumn of 1962, at St. Augustine’s College in Fox Hill, New Providence, during a break from classes, Moss was holding forth, and his subject was Cassius Clay (later to be known widely as Muhammad Ali).

“Boy there is this boxer name Cassius Clay. He won the light heavyweight Olympic gold medal in 1960. He’s in the heavyweight division now and soon, he’ll fight Archie Moore. He’ll beat the old man and will be world champion soon.” I paraphrased him a bit, but Moss was prophetic in sports. Of course, he was quite correct about the loquacious one, the self-proclaimed greatest boxer of all time.

Then there was the time, when he was talking about international grand prix motor racing. There were raised eyebrows as he waxed eloquent about the likes of the Mexican brothers Pedro and Ricardo; Americans Phil Hill and Dan Gurney; and the popular Brit Sterling Moss. Few high school lads followed grand prix racing at the time, but, such was the wide range of discussions in sports, Moss was known for.

On the local scene, league sports, school sports and professional sports, he kept up with, as well as any. A sports historian of the highest level, indeed, was Moss.

There was also, the competitive side of Cliffy Moss. Those who came onto the national sports landscape in the last four decades would know little or nothing at all about the athletic prowess of Moss. His was gifted in that regard, too.

The year was 1963 and the Private High Schools Track and Field Meet was one of the hallmark sporting events annually. The 13-year-old Moss won both the junior boys 100 yards and long jump. The manner in which he dominated the sprint event, galloping easily away from such as Wilbert Moss, Bruce Russell, and Jayson Moxey, was prolific. He seemed earmarked for track and field stardom.

Oddly enough though, he dropped off the track and field scene shortly afterwards, and, opted to focus primarily on basketball. At SAC, he made Lou Adderley’s junior basketball squads, and later on, became a starter for Vince Ferguson’s senior teams at Aquinas College. In league play, he was on those early Kentucky Colonels teams, sponsored by the legendary sports development contributor Bill Claridge.

Without a doubt, Moss was a noteworthy sports figure.

Moxey paid tribute to his long-time sports pal and rival.

“For more than 50 years, we were friends. All those who frequented Our Lady’s basketball court back in the day, bonded, some more than others. Nine and I grew very close. In fact, I am the godfather of his son Cliffy Jr. He was truly a friend and through the years we interacted regularly, until up to the time of his demise. We will surely miss him,” said Moxey.

For sure, our sports family has lost another valuable ambassador.

I extend condolences to the family of Clifford “Nine” Moss.

May his soul forever rest in peace!

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

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