It’s sometimes confused with softball, but a pair of baseball athletes from Belmopan is now trying to revive the sport in Belize. For about three years now, they have been working out with the youth out of west to teach them the techniques and foundation of the sport, which was lost among the new generation, but loved by our parents and grandparents.
Duane Moody, Reporting
If you were born in the eighties and earlier, watching the Chicago Cubs or the Chicago White Sox playing baseball on TV was a favourite pastime for the entire family. But as the years went by, the love for the sport dwindled, especially among millennials. And it is not to be confused with cricket or softball which to date is still played primarily in rural communities across the country. The last time baseball was played in Belize was in 1993, by way of a Little League.
Anthony Smith, President,
Youth Baseball Association of Belize
“It’s been twenty-nine years since baseball has been dead and we started about two years ago. Baseball is the same concept of softball, but it quicker and faster, the bases are further away. You throw overhand; softball you throw underhand and it is just more intense.”
Andrew Tramel, Lead Training Director, Youth Baseball Association of Belize
“Since 2016, the first time I arrived, I saw softball being played and I was excited to see it. Once I watched it, I said there can be more done here; we need to up the competition. We had a complete revolution of the sport, the way that we were coaching, the way that we were practicing. We upped the ante a big great deal and from then on out, I’ve been taking my kids here in Belmopan.”
Both Andrew Tramel and Anthony Smith developed a love for the sport at a young age and played baseball professionally in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Belizean American athletes returned to Belize and established the Youth Baseball Association of Belize back in 2018 and are players for the only adult team called the Spartans of Belize. Prior to the pandemic, a group of about twenty young children from the Belmopan area would engage in learning the basics of baseball, four to five times a week at the Governor General Field in Belmopan.
“We don’t take kindly to any type of lazy play. There is a lot of laid back attitude in the country and that’s all well and good, but when it comes to sports, you want to be the best that you can be. So I show that to them that every single time. I don’t want to just talk; I want to show them exactly why I am doing these things. So when we are in practice, if one thing goes wrong, they’ll know. You want to come play with us? One thing goes wrong, we will work. We will do conditioning; we will run until we learn exactly why it is that we don’t make mistakes in practice.”
“Created an adult team about two years ago called Spartans of Belize. We went to Guatemala to play baseball; we came in second place. There were Guatemalans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and we also went to Mexico to play. We put Belize back on the map of baseball.”
As COVID-19 restrictions are eased and non-contact sporting activities can resume, the athletes are now looking to see how they can expand the initiative across the country.
“Once we make contact with the schools, we find parents – a lot of big things about the States is that you have volunteers. The parents every single one of them wants to joint up, be at practice and be involved. But the way I’m going with it, I am going to use the teachers, anyone that has the experience, a desire to play the game, that’s where we gonna go.”
“My goal and mission is to see baseball all over the country from all ages. We are going to have for kids, we’re gonna have for teenagers; we are going to have an adult league. I want to see it played like in the States at an advanced level that one day we can play in the Serie Caribe, we can play against other countries – Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican Republic Cuba, you name it – and to put Belize back on the map and to show these other countries there are a lot of talent here in Belize.”
The Youth Baseball Association of Belize also wants to develop a baseball academy in the west. Duane Moody for News Five.