The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has thrown its support behind the ‘Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby’, a sign of the resurgence in Sports Tourism in the country. That according to the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Harrison Thompson, who is now a consultant in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. He made the observation at the official launch of the event, held at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Monday, October 31, 2022. After a one-year tryout at Atlantis Beach, adjacent to Atlantis Resort, the fifth installment of the Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby is back to its home base at Montagu Beach set for December 17, 2022.
The Derby said to be growing exponentially in popularity and exposure to the tune of over eight million viewers online, will once again feature local professionals, and minor and major league hitters, going up against each other for the title of “Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby Champion.”
And, organizers Lucius Fox and Todd Isaacs, Jr., both Bahamian professional baseball players, are excited about this year’s event.
Mr. Thompson confirmed that Isaacs and Fox have the “full support” of the ministry in staging the Derby, seen as a resurgence in interest in Sports Tourism in The Bahamas.
According to Mr. Thompson, the event is also a testament to the work and commitment of Fox and Isaacs, adding that they are bringing a fantastic event to The Bahamas and that is what sports tourism is all about.
“There is certainly a resurgence in sports tourism. Everyone wants to come to The Bahamas and we welcome them to our shores. Visitors want to experience our culture, our people, and our beautiful scenery.
There’s no other place in the world like The Bahamas.” He continued, “We want to commend these young men for this venture and we look forward to it expanding even more in the future to the point where it is the most popular baseball event in the world. You have our full support and we will assist in any way that we can. Keep pressing forward.”
In the team competition, Team Fox will be aiming to tie Team Isaacs at two victories apiece. Team Isaacs won last year.
This year, a vast majority of the 25-plus Bahamian professionals, including Fox and Isaacs, are expected to take part. Fox, Isaacs, and Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins were all a part of the first class of young Bahamians, under the current wave of youth baseball talent, to sign professional contracts in 2015.
Since then, over 20 young Bahamians have signed pro baseball contracts with Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations.
“A lot of foreigners coming here and taking the crown back with them and that’s not right,” said Fox at the official launch. “Hopefully, a Bahamian could take it this year. If I don’t get it, hopefully, a Bahamian could keep the trophy here in The Bahamas.”
The event, now in its fifth year, will once again encompass a lead-up to the main competition, inclusive of a celebrity softball game on Wednesday, December 14, and a kid’s clinic the following morning. The softball game is set for 7 p.m. on the Atlantis grounds that Wednesday. On Thursday, the kid’s clinic will run from 9 a.m. to noon. The main event, the 5th Don’t Blink 242 Home Run Derby, will commence at noon on Saturday, December 17 at Montagu Beach.
Set to take part this year are Bahamian professional players as well as foreign professionals of the minor and major league system in the United States. Bahamian Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins will highlight the local talent, and Fox and Isaacs will also compete.
“This event was actually inspired by the CARIFTA Games,” said Fox. “Todd and I saw the excitement from the CARIFTA Games and we sat down and discussed how we could bring this same excitement to local baseball. We’ve played all in the United States where there are American fans supporting us, but there is nothing like getting it from your own.”
He said that with COVID-19 and everything else that’s going on, a treat is definitely what is needed right now. “We just want it to keep getting bigger and better and to put on a show for the Bahamian people. That’s our goal.”
Both Fox and Isaacs are in their eighth year of professional baseball. Fox received a call-up to the majors last season and is anticipating greater success in 2023. And, they also aim to show young men in the country how sports can keep them focused on becoming better men and how baseball changed their lives.
“Sports teaches you how to persevere through any incident you would face in life. Baseball taught us that it’s not how you start that determines your outcome, but how you power through to the end,” said Isaacs.
“Lucius and I saw an avenue where we could put our young professionals in the spotlight and have them perform in front of their own people, and also find a way where we could bring awareness to the sport of baseball here in The Bahamas,” said Isaacs.
Also present at the launch ceremony were organizers and sponsors: Lynden Maycock, Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the event; Ted Adderley, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Atlantis; Shazell Rolle, Public Relations and Communication Coordinator at Cable Bahamas; and Gina Gonzalez- Rolle, Don’t Blink Derby.
By LINDSAY THOMPSON/ Bahamas Information Services