Eldred Henry’s stock rises ahead of Pan Am Games action

Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
BVI Pan Am Games Media Contact

Eldred Henry – British Virgin Islands

LIMA Peru – Eldred Henry arrived in Lima on July 29th to begin final preparations for his second Pan Am Games, in which he’ll see action on August 7.

Former BVI Olympic Committee and BVI Athletics Association President, Rey O’Neal, traces the rising stock of Henry, who’s currently ranked No 13 on the IAAF 2019 list.

In the British Virgin Islands’ long history of participation at the Carifta Games beginning in 1976, the territory’s athletes have returned home with 57 total medals, 50 of them being won by individual athletes. What may be surprising to many is the fact that so many of these medals have been won by competitors in the jumps and the throws. All of our gold medals have come from field event competitors – first by Keita Cline who won three consecutive titles in the Long jump and added another in the Triple Jump, followed by Eric Matthias in the Discus Throw and Chantel Malone in the Triple Jump.

The throws have been particularly productive in the present decade. None of our runners has won more than one individual medal in a single Games and Cline, Matthias and Malone, were the only double medalists prior to that.

However, since the emergence of Eldred Henry, who won bronze medals in the Shot Put and Discus Throw in 2013, the BVI always won at least two medals in every Games until 2018. Six of these came from the Gumbs family, with twin sisters Trevia and Tynelle and younger brother Djimon each adding two to the family collection.

Henry parlayed his 2013 successes in Nassau to a scholarship to Central Arizona College, following the well-worn path previously trodden by, among others, National Jr. College champions, Steve Augustine and Omar Jones, who later became Henry’s domestic coach. Henry won two JUCO titles himself in the Shot Put and another in the Discus Throw during his stay there, where he benefited from the coaching of Ton Dougherty. Just as importantly he set new records in the throws with marks in excess of 20m (6 ft) and 60m (200ft) in the Shot and Discus respectively.

Internationally, Henry also continued to make an impression. In 2014, he placed fourth in the Discus Throw and fifth in the Shot Put at the NACAC Under-23 Championships in Kamloops, Canada. Two years later at the same meet, this time held in El Salvador, he improved his placing to third in each throwing event. In between those events he placed fifth in the Shot and sixth in the Discus Throw at the NACAC Open Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica.

In 2017, with his Jr. College eligibility behind him, he had an abbreviated season but won the Shot at the OECS Championships in Grenada.

In 2018, Eldred Henry emerged as an international caliber thrower. At the Commonwealth Games in Australia to start his outdoor season, he had a modest although promising performance, given his long absence from high level competition.

He decided to give the Discus Throw a pass for the year with a view towards improving his marks in the Shot Put. At the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, he came good with a throw of 20.18m, good enough for bronze behind Jamaicans, O’Dayne Richards and Ashinia Miller. A few short weeks later he unleashed a big throw of 20.63m to place fifth at the NACAC Open Championships in Toronto, Canada, establishing a new OECS record. The throwers who beat him were an American, a Canadian and the two Jamaicans who had bested him in Colombia.

Henry’s performance qualified him for the 2019 Pan American Games and for this year’s World Championships in Doha Qatar, Sept 27 – Oct 6. He stands in 6th place all-time among Shot Putters from the CAC region behind Jamaicans Richards, Dorian Scott and Miller, and the Cuban pair of Alexis Paumier and Carlos Veliz, both of whom like Scott, are no longer active.

Henry, now competing for the University of Findlay in Ohio, tossed the iron ball an impressive 20.61m in a home meet for a national and O.E.C.S. indoor record, a mark bettered only by the Jamaicans Richards and Scott among CAC throwers. He won the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, adding to those he had won indoors for Central Arizona at the Junior College level.

In May, Henry unleashed a mammoth 21.47m throw to shatter the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships record, a mark that has him at No 13 on the IAAF list.

Heading into the Pan Am Games competition, he’s among the top 5 throwers in the Americas. Henry’s performances stamp him as second only to hurdler Kyron McMaster among BVI male athletes in terms of international ranking and it seems that there is much more to come.

Additional Pan Am Games reports and interviews with Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway, will be carried on CBN 90.9 FM at 5.00 p.m. through August 5th and then at 9.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m., from August 6 – 11. There’s a 9 a.m. wrap up on Aug 12.

The B.V.I. Amateur Athletics Association’s First 20 Years, by Reynold O’Neal

Prior to the formation of a National athletics governing body the British Virgin Islands had produced several outstanding track and field athletes, but in the absence of opportunities for outside competition their performances were largely unknown outside these shores.

A few were well known at the high school level in other Caribbean islands, including Cyril Romney who introduced the “Peas Soup” (scissors) style of high jumping to many of his future students; Bryan Penn, arguably the most talented all-around athlete produced by these islands, who starred for Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, as a sprinter and hurdler, as well as acquitting himself with distinction in other sports such as baseball, American football, softball and cricket.

There was also McWelling Todman Jr., “Quito”, a legend in football at The Lodge School in Barbados but also one of the leading sprinters in that island, in the early 1970’s.

At home track and field competition took place on two levels. There was the “Senior School” Inter-house competition with the teams involved being Aggrey, Bronte and Cavell Houses, and on Empire (later “Commonwealth”) Day the best primary and post -primary athletes met on the 220 yard track at the facility that would later be referred to as the ‘Old Recreation Grounds’. Now dedicated solely to softball and little league baseball, it formerly also was the center of activity for cricket and, to a much lesser extent, football.

The Inter-School event on Empire Day showcased athletes in several age groups but what was most highly anticipated, was the competition among the East End, West End, and Road Town Post-Primary athletes. Two of the standouts of those meets were Road Town’s Norris Scatliffe and Berenice Smith.
Scatliffe later became a softball standout, while Smith is still considered by many to have been the best pitcher ever in the Territory’s history.

At the secondary school level the leading lights often came from areas outside those that tended to dominate the Empire Day event. William Penn of Road Town made an early mark as a jumper, later to be superseded by Heraldo Todman, who lived virtually opposite the Recreation Ground. Todman became better known for his exploits in cricket and softball but certainly had the talent to have made a mark in regional track and field.

The outstanding male athlete of the later years of the Virgin Islands Secondary School came from the north side of the island and continued to be active in the sport off and on until the mid-1970’s. Cecil Dawson was the youngest boy in a very athletic family that also included Carl, a certain pick on any all-time B.V.I. cricket team, and Elvera (Dawson) Brathwaite, an excellent softball player and one of the fastest females of her era and mother and grandmother to a son and grandson who represented the territory at the Junior level in track and field.

Cecil’s game was speed and he was never beaten by another B.V.I. athlete in a short sprint. He was also an outstanding batsman in cricket and a versatile softball player.

Many of the leading female athletes at the V.I.S.S, also hailed from areas removed from the capital.

The most outstanding were Edris Christopher( O’Neal), Sandra Turnbul (Scatliffe) and Inez Hodge. Christopher, amassed an outstanding four consecutive Victrix Ludorum titles. Both she and Inez Hodge (later Archibald) would go on to represent the territory in softball, the sport provided an outlet for female track and field athletes whose sporting careers would otherwise end with their graduation.

Consequently the B.V.I.’s representative softball teams tended to be faster than their counterparts, boasting not only the aforementioned but also other speedy players like Eileene Parsons, a track star of an earlier era at Charlotte Amalie High School, and Annette Christopher, sister of Edris.
The last of the star female sprinters of the V.I.S.S. were Juliet Penn and Velma Warner, Penn joined male softballers Gene Hodge, Mario “Sonny” Todman, Elmo Connor, Edwin “Boss” Hodge and Dale Abrahamson as players from that sport who returned to the track when track and field became established.

In 1970 a group of teachers at the Virgin Islands High School, recognising the tremendous amount of untapped athletic talent around, set about attempting to get together a squad for training and also to create an administrative structure, in the hope that somewhere down the pike an Association would be formed. A steering committee was formed consisting of Government Sports Officer Horace Sailsman, Hubert Payne, Teny Erskine, as well as high school teachers Monica Martin, Rey O’Neal and Juno Samuels.

A practice area was identified on reclaimed land on what is now Wickhams Cay II. A 400 metre track was laid down using conduit pipes stapled together for the inside kerb.

A number of high school athletes, as well as other young men and women in their early 20’s had now been turning out with regular­ity. Fortunately a competitive opportunity presented itself in November, 1970 with the first Inter-Virgin Islands Track and Field Meet, held at the Martin Marietta facility on St.Croix.

The fledgling squad did itself proud, just missing the overall championship but scoring impressive wins in several events. Dale Abrahamson and Gene Hodge were double winners and the BVI showed well in the high jump with wins from Elmo Connor and young Urmin Richardson.

Meanwhile, an Association had been formed with Payne as its first President, O’Neal as Vice-President, Monica Martin as Secretary and Erskine the first Treasurer. With Sailsman’s assistance, an application for membership in the International Amateur Athletic Federation had been forwarded to the London office. Acceptance was surprisingly fast in coming and by the middle of 1971 the B.V.I. Amateur Athletics Association had become a member of the international track and field fraternity.

1971 also saw the first British Virgin Islands athletes compete at the international level. Thanks to the connections of Payne, four of our athletes were invited to the prestigious Southern Games in Trinidad. Those Games at the time were the sport’s leading Invitational event in the region and attracted competitors from throughout the English-speaking Caribbean, the French islands, North America and the occasional African.

Dale Abrahamson beat all other Caribbean com­petitors in winning a bronze medal in the 800 metres. His colleagues, sprinters Cecil Dawson and Velma Warner, and thrower Gene Hodge also performed well with Hodge and Dawson later winning medals in a meet in Barbados on the way home.

The next few years were relatively un­eventful. The Executive had begun to disintegrate owing to emigration. A new Executive was formed with high school teachers Rey O’Neal, Theda Bucknor, John Lewis and Juno Samuels in the key positions.

The high school system continued to produce good athletes but for such stars as Marva Mercer, Derry Fahie and Jackie Richardson there were virtually no opportunities to compete abroad. For the senior competitors there were none at all.

Things began to change in 1974 when the first BVI Invitational Track Meet was held with notable success. Occasional competitions allowed our athletes to travel to St. Kitts and Montserrat. In 1975 the BVI took part for the first time in a regional meet – the CA.C. Championships in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
A very young team was not up to the task of competing against the international athletes on show, but the experience was useful. Among the “baby brigade” of that venture were high school stars Dean Greenaway, Ephraim Penn and Rose Phillips. Phillips managed to place a creditable sixth in the long jump.

In 1976 the BVI took part for the first time in the CARIFTA Games, the premier junior regional athletic competition. The squad of Greenaway, Penn. Phillips and Delores Barzey performed well with Greenaway placing 5th in the 400 metres.

1976 was also a significant year in that, thanks to the efforts of Association President, Khalil “Johnny” Hassan, the BVIAAA gained the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Tortola. The driving forces within the Rotary Club were Jim Morris, Roosevelt Smith, Bob Gray and Vincent O’Neal.

By 1976 the BVI Invitational Track Meet had become a regular summer event for athletes from the neighbouring islands.
Coming over from St. Thomas to represent the BVI was Jerry Molyneaux who, together with Greenaway and Phillips, led the BVI effort. Greenaway’s outstanding performance here paid off in a Rotary-sponsored scholarship to Pasadena City College in California.

In 1978 the BVI gained its first CARIFTA Games medal as Greenaway copped silver in the 400 metres in the Bahamas. Also on that team, considered by many to have been our strongest ever junior squad, were sprinters Lindel “Chef” Hodge and Geoffrey ”T.J.” Todman and long jumper and sprinter, Guy Hill.

Hill, who set a still-standing high school record in the 200 metre dash and broke the existing long jump record by over a foot, was to become the second recipient of Rotary Club largesse, taking his talents to Santa Fe Community College in Florida. Hodge, who set a national record in the 100 metres, succeeded Greenaway at Pasadena, the latter having moved on to the University of Colorado.

1979 was another significant year. In that year, Greenaway gave the Territory its first medal in a senior regional Championship event when he claimed a bronze medal at the CA.C. Championships in Guadalajara. Mexico. Molyneaux also performed well, establishing a new national record in the 800 while finishing fifth.

Greenaway gained TFA AlI-America status in the 400 metres and finished the year ranked among the top 50 in the world in his event.
The Pan American Games were held in San Juan that summer and the fact that athletes of the caliber of Greenaway and Molyneaux were unable to participate brought into focus the need for the formation of a National Olympic Committee, a body that would eventually gain recognition three years later.

The three following years saw continued good performances by the overseas-based athletes. At the junior level several stars shone briefly including Cleo George of Virgin Gorda and Andre Pickering who. in 1982, became the second BVI athlete to win a CARIFTA Games silver medal. However, most of the more talented high school athletes seemed to be reluctant to continue in the sport after graduation.

In 1982 the B.V.I. A.A.A. was represented for the first time at the Central American and Caribbean Games. The B.V.I. A.A.A. Invitational Track Meet was a major success as, for the first time in several years, all four of our U.S. based athletes competed at home.

A squad of six was chosen for the Games in Havana, although Ronald Smith eventually remained outside the arena. Dean Greenaway got us off to a brilliant start, winning his heat in the 400 metres, but in the final analysis, the team had to content itself with national records in both relays.

The pre-Olympic year (1983) also saw the introduction of the I.A.A.F. World Championships. Selected to represent the BVI were Greenaway, who had enjoyed his best indoor season, ranking among the top twenty 400 metre runners in the U.S.A. and Rose (Phillips) King, attempting a comeback after several years absence.

Unfortunately, Greenaway was at less than peak fitness and King, like many of the female athletes from the small Caribbean islands, was somewhat awed by the occasion and neither did as well as was hoped.

Making a mark at the high school level in Florida was Pat Archibald, daughter of the former Inez Hodge and niece of Middleton Archibald, a former West Indies Championships medalist. Pat Archibald would be a dominant figure in state-wide competition and go on to set B.V.I National Records in the high jump and both hurdle events in a career that spanned only the years 2002-2004.

1984 was the year in which the British Virgin Islands first competed at the Olympic Games. Hill and Hodge were running as well as they ever had, and Greenaway and Molyneaux were also coming close to their 1982 form.

In preparation for the Games, the quartet spent three weeks training in New Jersey under the direction of former U.S. Olympic gold medalist Ron Freeman. Paul Hewlett, now based in Britain, was also se­lected but family commitments precluded his joining the team. As it turned out, the BVI 4 x 400 metre relay team set a new national record, but individually, while by no means disgracing themselves, the athletes seemed to be less sharp than in Havana two years before.

The mid ‘80’s marked the beginning of a strong local age -group programme. Winston Potter, a former intercollegiate athlete at Murray State University and latterly, Dag Samuels, a CARIFTA performer in the late ‘70’s spearheaded the effort. The return home of Dean Greenaway also provided an inspirational boost. Gordon Callender proved to be very useful in the identification of primary school athletes.

In 1987, the first course for certification of athletics coaches was held in Tortola. I.A.A.F. regional instructors Victor Lopez, Dan Pfaff and Gary Winckler conducted the course which resulted in eight new coaches being certified at level I, to join the previously accredited Winston Potter, Alpheus Potter and Dag Samuels.

Samuels eventually went on to gain certification at Level III, making him one of a handful of coaches from the English-speaking Caribbean to earn such recognition.

Also in 1987, the O.E.C.S. Championships appeared for the first time on the regional athletics calendar. The five editions of the event have been quite useful in providing athletes from the smaller islands a chance to compete against others who have had to face the same adversity in developing their talents.

The meet has also encouraged senior athletes, who may have no grand international ambitions to continue in the sport after their junior eligibility had expired. In the inaugural O.E.C.S. Championships, Alpheus Potter won medals in both the shot putt and discus throw, while Dean Greenaway placed second in the 400.

Later that year, three athletes – Greenaway, Hewlett and Hodge – wore the national colours at the Pan American Games in Indianapolis. Paul Hewlett, in his second year as a decathlete, provided a pleasant surprise with a fifth place finish in the grueling 10-eventer. Selected for the World Championships in Rome, he again did well, outlasting several of the more fancied world- raters.

In 1988, Hewlett returned home and gathered a number of athletes who he viewed as potential multi-eventers. Among them was Karl Scatliffe who, in Antigua, won the high jump at the O.E.C.S. Championships.

In the BVI’s most successful O.E.C.S. venture to date, veterans Greenaway and Hodge also won gold medals in the 400 and 200 metres respectively. All three would later win medals at the Texaco Games in Barbados, to which all O.E.C.S. winners were invited.

New stars had begun to emerge. William Archer had become the best high school sprinter/jumper since Guy Hill a decade before. However, his career had been imperiled by a serious auto accident which affected his performances for nearly two years.

Tracy Bradshaw had shown signs of assuming the mantle of Rose King as a female competitor who could hold her own regionally. Shot putter Raphael Jack and high jumper Mervin Charles also performed well.

Our Olympic team in 1988 consisted of two members – Lindel Hodge and Willis Todman. Todman, who ran the 400 at Seoul, had been ‘discovered’ by Guy Hill at a meet in St. Thomas. Although basically more comfortable in the short sprints, Todman has been a very useful member of national teams whenever his services were needed.

In 1989 the high jump became the feature event of the local track scene. Charles and Raymond Solomon both broke the high school record. The latter upset his cousin Karl Scatliffe to capture the O.E.C.S. Championship.

At the National Championships, both cleared 2 metres for the first time. Scatliffe went on to set a new O.E.C.S. record at the C.A.C. Championships in San Juan, where his 2.08m (6 ‘9 ¾”) leap was good enough for fourth place in the memorable competition in which Cuba’s, Javier Sotomayor became history’s first eight-foot jumper. Solomon won our first CARlFTA medal for several years with a third place performance in Barbados.

Two significant newcomers had also begun to make their presence felt. Ereia Smith had started a string of three consecutive Victrix Ludorum performances at the BVI High School Inter-House competition and went on to establish a new national record in the 1500 metres. Keita Cline had re-appeared after an injury-imposed hiatus. Together with Tracy Bradshaw and sprinter Jasmine King, they had produced the BVI High School’s best performance abroad with impressive results at the Jesse Holt Invitational in Florida. Bradshaw set national records in the 200, 400 and 800 metres.

Also doing well in Miami was Clair Powell, another middle distance star, whose light flickered and died within a year.

Early in 1990, Willis Todman made his mark indoors, placing second in the 400 metres in the National Collegiate Division III Championships. Karl Scatliffe and Willie Archer had moved to California and both competed quite well for Compton Junior College. At home, Solomon carried the BVI High School record to 6’8” and did well internationally, finishing third at the CARlFTA Games and second at the O.E.C.S. Championships, one position up on Mervin Charles.

Also scoring in the high jump at the O.E.C.S. meet was Ereia Smith who placed third. Smith, more highly regarded as a middle distance runner, had earlier placed fourth at the CARlFTA Games over 1500 metres.

On the whole, the O.E.C.S. Games in St. Kitts were a fruitful exercise. A larger female contingent was sent than in previous years and they accounted for national records in both relays.

In the 4 x 100 metres, Rose King entered the record books 16 years after her first national record. Tracy Bradshaw was joined by Jasmine King and Karen Ward on both squads with Ereia Smith replacing Rose King in the longer event.

Raphael Jack set a national record in the shot put, later to be broken in St. Thomas, in claiming the bronze medal. Almost unnoticed was Keita Cline who set a national mark in the triple jump. He had won a bronze medal in the junior 200 metres at the CARlFTA Games in Jamaica a few weeks earlier, competing in the Under-17 division.

At the National Championships in July, the BVI witnessed a seven-foot high jump for the first time. Karl Scatliffe achieved the feat in winning by 8 inches. Neither the injured Solomon nor Charles participated.

Cline once more broke the national triple jump record. Other local stars were Ereia Smith (who scored an unusual 1500 metre – high jump double), Bradshaw, and Roger Leon Mathavious as well as Willis Todman, who ran fairly well in his initial appearance at home, winning silver medals in both sprints.

The present looked good and the future promised to be even better. Tracy Bradshaw and Keita Cline relocated to Gainesville, Florida to conclude their high school careers under the watchful eye of their first coach Dag Samuels. Bradshaw was first to make an impression, ranking among the top five schoolgirls in the U.S.A. over the indoor 500 metre distance. Cline began to click shortly before departing for the CARlFTA Games in Trinidad.

That year’s CARlFTA Games squad consisted of four athletes, all of whom were deemed capable of winning medals. As it turned out, Ereia Smith was unable to travel with the team. However, Raphael Jack placed fourth in the shot put, Cline fourth in the triple jump and Tracy Bradshaw fifth in the long jump.

Most impressive though was Cline’s win in the long jump with a leap of 24’4”. It was the Territory’s first ever CARlFTA gold and also shattered Guy Hill’s11 year old national record.

Cline and Bradshaw continued to compete very well on the Florida scholastic circuit with Cline breaking his triple jump record and Bradshaw lowering her national bests in both the 200 and 400. Unfortunately she suffered a leg injury just prior to the State Championships and had her season curtailed. Cline went on to place third in the long jump at the State meet.

Back on the home front, the B.V.I. managed to claim only two medals at what would turn out to be the final O.E.C.S. Championships in St.Lucia. However one of those was a gold by Raymond Solomon in the high jump with a meet record performance of 2.10 metres (6’10 ¾”).

Cline had a most impressive showing for a 16 year old with a leap of 50’ 0 ¾” in the triple jump, good enough for bronze. Solomon went on to win his event at the Texaco Games in Barbados, the first individual victory by a B.V.I. athlete at the Bridgetown meet.

The local programme was also expanded to include a B.V.I. Inter-Secondary competition, the Inter Virgin-Islands Youth Championships and the Inter-Virgin Islands Secondary Schools Championships.

The brainchild of Bryan Penn, head of the Sports Division, these competitions have been invaluable in the identification and development of talent throughout the Territory. Another I.A.A.F. coaching course held in October, 1990 also did much to improve the competence and confidence of local coaches.

It is risky business to predict subsequent success of young athletes but three boys had shown the potential to graduate to the national team ranks by 1992. They were sprinter /long jumpers Mario Todman and Michael Hastick, and Steve Augustine, proficient in track events from 200 to 800 metres.

The most promising females were still in the primary school ranks.

Facilities had improved considerably over the past twenty years. In 1986 the ‘New’ Recreation Ground, now the A.O.Shirley Ground, was expanded, allowing for the installation of a 400 metre track.

As the previous circuit had measured only 300 metres in circumference, it caused some problems for our younger athletes who tended to be intimidated by the full-sized oval. A major problem persisted though in that the overcrowded facility at the A.O. Shirley Ground made it difficult for senior athletes in particular to train without having to dodge flying missiles of all types. It was hoped that the installation of lights and a staggered schedule would make it possible for practitioners of all sporting disciplines to train more effectively.

There was also more encouragement from the Government agencies responsible for sport than in years past. The Ministry of Health, Education and Welfare, as well as the Department of Education and the Sports Division had all been very supportive of the BVIAAA developmental prorammes with hopes that it would continue.

The human resources have always been there and it was a matter of pride not only for the B.V.I.A.A.A., but also for their fellow athletes that Keita Cline and Tracy Bradshaw left in September on athletic scholarships at the University of Minnesota and Northern Arizona University respectively with hopes that others would follow the same path.

The B.V.I.A.A.A. was very thankful to all those who over the years had helped in the organising of its events, or officiated at its competitions as well as for the support of its sponsors and the general public who although critical at times, generally supported its efforts.

Reynold O’Neal
[Original draft 1991. Updated in 2010]

A History of OECS Athletics – by Rey O’Neal

The OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) is a grouping of small Caribbean countries that, while having no direct political association, cooperate with one another in a number of different areas, including sport.

The OECS Sports Desk organizes or finds sponsorship for a number of sporting events. The OECS Track and Field Championships were perhaps the OECS event with the highest profile and although athletes from the member countries obtained major individual success after the demise of the meet, the absence of the competition has left a void in the regional development programme.

The countries which comprise the OECS include four from the Windward Islands- Dominica,Grenada, St. Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines; and five from the Leeward Islands – Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.

The driving force behind the OECS Championships was Joseph “Reds” Perreira, the sports coordinator at the OECS sports desk. He was able to use his connections established as a regional sports personality, largely as a cricket commentator, to obtain sponsorship and concessions from a number of multi-national companies operating in the region. Texaco, through its Barbados office, underwrote the cost of staging the championships and a 50% rebate on airfares from LIAT, the regional carrier, made it possible for the delegations to be more representative than would otherwise have been the case.

Participants at the OECS Championships ran the whole gamut of athletic experience. There were athletes who had returned home after completing university studies, several athletes who would venture south from their American colleges, home-based competitors who had not ventured afield and a large number of junior athletes, especially in the longer track events for women.

Read the full history . . .


All-Time Caribbean Baseball All-Stars

By Rey O’Neal

David Ortiz / Red Sox August 2013. Photo: Sofia Fay

David Ortiz / Red Sox August 2013. Photo: Sofia Fay

Since the integration of Major League Baseball in the United States in 1947, the influence of  Latin American baseball players has been  considerable.

However the first Caribbean players to leave their mark on the North American baseball scene had largely plied their trade in the relative obscurity of the Negro Leagues in the United States as many as thirty years before the official desegregation of “Organized Baseball” occurred.

Some white Latin-American players made it into Major League  rosters and a few others  might have “slipped through the cracks” but effectively the  strict racial segregation barriers that excluded Afro-American players from baseball’s major and minor leagues applied equally to non-white Latinos. Most of the Caribbean stars who performed in the Negro Leagues were Cubans with a few others from Puerto Rico, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

The following players are those who I consider to have been the best Caribbean players in baseball history:

Miguel Cuellar (Cuba) – A lefthander who made history as one of a quartet of Baltimore Oriole pitchers  who each won 20 games in 1971. Cuellar, famous for his screwball, enjoyed his best years with the Orioles after  starting his career with the Cincinnati Reds. He was a four-time All-Star and shared the 1969 Cy Young Award with Detroit’s Denny McLain. Cuellar was a 20-game winner four times in his career and usually completed about half of the  games he started. Cuellar’s career ended with a record of 185 wins against 139 losses and a healthy earned run average of 3.14.

Adolfo Luque (Cuba) – One of the first Cubans to play in the Major Leagues, the fiery Luque was undoubtedly the first Latin American star of the pre-integration era. At the time of his retirement Luque had won more major league games than any other  Latino pitcher. His total of 194 wins, with a career E.R.A. of  3.24 was supported by outstanding performances in his native Cuba, where he ranked second all-time in  career wins. At the beginning and end of his big league career Luque was used mainly as a reliever with some success. It was a starter that he excelled, however, winning 27 games for Cincinnati in 1923 and twice  leading the National League in E.R.A.

Juan Marichal (Dominican Republic) – Arguably the best pitcher never to  have won a Cy Young award, Marichal was a consistent, dependable pitcher for the San Francisco Giants for over a decade. He won 20 or more games in a season six times and pitched in ten All-Star Games. His career record of 243 victories against 142 losses for a winning percentage of .631 is one of the best ever among veteran pitchers. He ended his career with 52 shutouts, including a no-hitter. Of his 459 Major League starts he completed 249 of them. His career earned run average was 3.89 and he struck out 2,307 natters. The high-kicking Dominican right-hander was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1983,the first player from his country to be so honoured.

Dennis Martinez (Nicaragua) – From a country better known for producing boxers and football players, Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez spent 23 years in the Major Leagues. He accumulated more wins (245) than any other Caribbean pitcher, while losing 193 and compiling an E.R.A. of 3.70. He played for five bib-league teams, enjoying his greatest success with the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. As an Expo he pitched a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1991. He was one of only nine pitchers to have won 100 or more games in both the National and American Leagues. He was selected to four All-Star teams between 1990 and 1996.

Pedro Martinez (Dominican Republic) – Statistically Pedro Martinez has had the most impressive career of any Caribbean pitcher. Relatively small for a power pitcher at 5′ 11′ and 190 lbs., Martinez led the league in strikeouts three times  and in 1999 won pitching’s Triple Crown  with the Boston Red Sox, also leading the American League in wins and Earned Run Average. He led the league in E.R.A. five times and was named to eight All-Star  teams.

Martinez, who first made his mark with the Montreal Expos, spent most of his career with the  Boston Red Sox. He won a Cy Young Award as an Expo in 1997 and two more with the Red Sox in 1999 and 2000.His lifetime record of 219 wins against 100 losses left him with a 68% winning percentage. His 3,154 strikeouts at better than one per inning rank him among Baseball’s best.  In 2015 Martinez was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Jose Mendez (Cuba) – MENDEZ, “The Black Diamond”  is rated by most baseball authorities as Cuba’s greatest ever pitcher. His reputation was largely established by his performances against several of Major League Baseball’s best hitters who faced him in the off-season in the 1920;s. The first Cuban to attain stardom in the Negro Leagues of the U.S.A., his success paved the way for a flood of his countrymen. A small right-hander with a dominating fastball, Mendez also had an effective assortment of off-speed pitches. In a career that lasted from 1907 to 1924, Mendez had a record of 75 wins against 36 losses in the Cuban League and 51 victories against 15 defeats in Negro League action, completing well over half the games he started, with an overall E.R.A. around 2.30. Mendez was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2006.

Mariano Rivera (Panama) – Undoubtedly, baseball’s greatest relief pitcher, Rivera amassed a record 653 saves in his 19 year career with the New York Yankees, with a 2.21 earned run average and 1,173 strikeouts. He owns the Major League record for games finished(957). Rivera was an American League All-Star 13 times and played on  5 World Series -winning teams and was chosen Series M.V.P..  In 1999 he was chosen the best reliever in baseball five times. 
Rivera, whose signature pitch was a cut fastball, had a phenomenal record in post-season baseball. He had a won-lost record  of 6-1 with an E.R.A. of 0.70. and 42 saves. He holds the Major League Playoff record with 33 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

Francisco Rodriguez (Venezuela) –  At the age of 20 Rodriguez was a standout reliever in 2002 as his Los Angeles Angels defeated the  San Francisco Giants to capture their first World Series title. The hard- throwing Venezuelan has a lifetime record of 41-36,with an earned run average of 2.70. He has recorded 304 saves, leading the American League in that category three times. In 2008 he set the all-time Major League record with 62 saves in a single season. He has been a four-time All-Stars election and has one the Rolaids Award as best reliever twice. Over his career he has struck out 933 batters in only 767 innings pitched, placing him among the all-time elite in that category-strikeouts per inning.

Johan Santana (Venezuela) – A lefthander whose career was cut short by injury, Santana at the top of his game was the best pitcher in the American League.  As a member of the Minnesota Twins Santana won the Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006.In the latter year he won pitching’s Triple Crown, leading the league in wins, strikeouts and E.R.A.. He led the league in strikeouts twice  and earned run average twice. An excellent fielder, he also won a Gold Glove in 2007.  With the New York Mets, he threw the first no-hitter in that team’s 52 year history. Santana ended his Major League career in 2013. His lifetime marks included 139 wins, 78 losses and an E.R.A. of 3.20. He had struck out 1,988 hitters and graced four All-Star Game rosters.

Luis Tiant (Cuba) – The son of a pitcher of the same name who was considered Cuba’s best left-hander before Miguel Cuellar, the younger Tiant had a long and distinguished Major League career. It was highlighted by his seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. He won 20 games in a season once with the Indians and three times with the Red Sox. He twice recorded earned run averages in a season. The eccentric Tiant closed out his career with 229 wins and 179 losses, an E.R.A. of 3.30 and 2,416 strikeouts. He completed 187 of his starts and threw 49 shutouts. He was elected to Venezuela’s Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jorge Posada (Puerto Rico) – The nephew of Cuban Major League outfielder Leo Posada, the switch-hitting Puerto Rican was one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball history. Over his seventeen seasons with the New York Yankees he averaged .273 with 275 home runs and 350 doubles. A five-time American League All-Star, he helped the Yankees to four World Series titles. He drove in 1,065 runs during his career and won 5 Silver Slugger awards for his position

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) – Without a doubt Major League Baseball’s best defensive catcher of the post-Johnny Bench era, Rodriguez won 13 Gold Gloves in a career that saw him catch more games than anyone else. Rodriguez, who spent the greater part of his playing days with the Texas Rangers, was selected to 14 All-Star teams. He had a lifetime batting average of .296 with 2,543 hits. He clubbed 311 home runs, batted in 1,322 runs and scored 1354.  In 1999 he was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He won a World Series title in 2003 as a member of the Florida Marlins.

Roberto Alomar (Puerto Rico) – The son of a Santos, a Major League utility infielder, and brother of All-Star catcher Santos Jr.(Sandy), Roberto carved his own niche en route to a Hall of Fame career.
Selected 12 times as an All-Star in a career that peaked as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Alomar was the best defensive second baseman of his day, as his ten Gold Gloves, more than any other at the position, will attest.  Alomar, whose lifetime batting average was .300, exceeded that mark in nine seasons. His 1508 runs scored reflected six seasons with 100 or more. He also batted in 100 runs twice in a total of 1,134. He amassed 2,724 hits,including504 doubles and 210 home runs. A switch-hitter, he won 4 Silver Slugger awards. He also ended his playing days with 474 stolen bases. Alomar is the only player to have had his number retired by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Luis Aparicio (Venezuela) – Venezuela has been famous for producing top-class  shortstops since the mid-1950’s and continues to do so. Some question whether Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio was actually better than Omar Vizquel, a better hitter and almost his match defensively. However Aparicio’s impact0n the game in the late 1950’s and the 1960’s cannot be denied. With the Chicago White Sox (twice), the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, Aparicio stole 504 bases, leading the league nine times. Best known for his defensive play, Aparicio won nine Gold Gloves. An excellent lead off hitter, Aparicio’s lifetime batting average of .267 might seem modest, but was better than most shortstops of his day. He accumulated a total of 2,677 hits and scored 1,355 runs. He regularly led the league in sacrifice hits.He played in 13 All-Star Games.

Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela) – Not really a man without a position Cabrera has played regularly in left field, at first base and third base, never distinguishing himself defensively but usually adequate to the task. At bat, though “adequate” falls far short of the mark in describing his achievements. The American League  Most Valuable Player in both 2012 and 2013. In 2012 he became the first player in 45 years to win the batting Triple Crown, leading the league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in.  A two-time home run leader, Cabrera has been a nine-time All-Star and won six Silver Slugger awards. He won a World Series Championships as a 20-year old with the Florida Marlins and also played in the 2012 Series with the Detroit Tigers. Cabrera’s lifetime statistics at the end of 2013 surpass every contemporary hitter except Aklbert Pujols. He had a career batting average of .321with 1,995 hits including 365 homers and 412 doubles. He had batted in 1,265 runs and scored 1,064,with a slugging percentage of .568.

Rod Carew (Panama) – Although he actually played a few more games at first base than at second, Rod Carew is generally considered the Caribbean’s all-time best second baseman. A hitter without great power, Carew accumulated 3,053 hits en route to a .328 lifetime batting average with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. He collected over 200 hits in a season four times and was a ember of 18 American League All-Star teams.
Carew was usually among the league leaders in triples and sacrifice hits. He ended his Major League playing days with 1,424 runs scored, including 17 steals of home plate. Carew had his number retired by both the Twins and Angels. He became his country’s first Hall of Famer in 1991.

Martin Dihigo (Cuba) -Dihigo might just as well have been named to this roster as a pitcher, for it was in that capacity that he earned his greatest notoriety in Latin America. The versatile Dihigo was elected to the Has of Fame in Cuba, Mexico,the United States and Venezuela. In a poll of players and sportswriters affiliated with the Negro Leagues, Dihigo was named the all-time greatest second baseman and also received support at third base, Left field and right field. Not the usual utility man with no set position, Dihigo, who played every position but catcher, was a good glove-man anywhere and had outstanding speed. In his professional career Dihigo batted .302 in four countries, exhibiting good power, and won 252 games against 132 losses. He won batting and home run titles in the Negro Leagues and Cuba and one year in Mexico he led the league in batting average, games won and E.R.A.  He was inducted into U.S. Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1997.

Tony Perez (Cuba) – Perez was a player without overwhelming statistics but one worthy of selection for his high level of productivity over an extended period of time. Perez, whose prime years as a player were spent with Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine”, was a competent fielder at both first and third base. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000,played on three World Series champion teams. He also played in even All-Star Games and was named MVP  of the 1967 edition.  
A durable player who never went on the disabled list, Perez drove in 100 or more runs seven times  and topped 90 in five other seasons. His career ended with a .279 batting average. He had 2,732 hits, including 505 doubles and 379 homers. He drove in 1,625 runs and scored 1,272,with a slugging percentage of .460.

Albert Pujols (Dominican Republic) – Without debate, Major League Baseball’s most productive hitter in the first decade of the 21st century was Albert Pujols. His career with the St. Louis Cardinals, which ended after 2011 when he led them to a second World Series championship before signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels, produced nine All-Star Game selections. He twice won National League home run titles as well as leading the league in batting once, in runs batted in once and in runs scored five times. A decent third baseman at the start of his career, he twice won Gold Gloves after moving across the diamond to first base. He also won six Silver Slugger awards. At the end of the 2013 season Pujols’ career statistics included a batting average of .321with 524 doubles and 492 home runs. He had driven in 1,498 runs and scored 1,426 with a .599 slugging percentage. He had batted in at least 100 runs in ten straight seasons and scored more than 100 in ten seasons.

Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rico) – Clemente was the first Latin American ballplayer to be named  Most Valuable Player in the Major Leagues He earned a similar distinction as the first from the region to be voted M.V.P. for his World Series performance. Clemente, who died on the last day of 1972 in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua, had ended the 1972 season with exactly 3,000 career hits, the first Caribbean player to reach that milestone. He won four National League batting titles and was considered one of baseball’s best defensive outfielders ever, winning twelve Gold Glove awards. The Pittsburgh Pirates star made 15 All-Star Game appearances. 
Clemente had a lifetime batting average of .317 with 240 home runs and 166 triples. He scored 1,174 runs and batted in 1,305. Clemente was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1973,with the usual five year post-retirement  waiting period having been waived.

Juan Gonzalez (Puerto Rico) – The big Puerto Rican slugger, “Igor” Gonzalez won two American League Most Valuable Player awards while with the Texas Rangers. He twice won home run titles and hit 40  or more round-trippers in five seasons. The three-time All-Star won six Silver Slugger awards and ranks fourth all-time in ratio of home runs to times at bat.  Gonzalez had eight seasons in which he drove in 100 or more runs. Gonzalez’ career statistics include a .295 batting average,368 doubles and 434 home runs. He batted in 1,404 runs and secured 1,064 with an impressive slugging percentage of .568.

Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic) – Several times the rifle-armed  Dominican right-fielder led his league in both outfield assists and errors but it is for his offensive prowess that he will be best remembered. The nine-time All-Star closed out his career with a .318 batting average, with 2,590 hits,,which included 449 home runs and 477 doubles. He batted in 1,496 runs, scored 1,054 and had a slugging percentage of .553. He also stole 181 bases. 
Known for his propensity to swing at any ball within reach, Guerrero never struck out as many as 100 times in a season. An eight time Silver Slugger winner, Guerrero twice hit 30 homers and stole 30 bases in a season. In at least two seasons he ranked in the top ten in the league in batting average, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, slugging percentage and total bases.

Manny Ramirez (Dominican Republic) – The unpredictable Dominican was the most feared right-handed hitter in the American League until the rise to prominence of Miguel Cabrera. A 12-time All-Star, he counted 21 grand-slams among his 555 homers and no player has surpassed his29 post-season home runs. He played in two World Series for the Boston Red Sox  and was named Series  Most Valuable Player in 2004. Ramirez led the American League once each in batting average, homers and runs batted in. He won nine Silver Slugger awards and had a career batting average of .312.Among his 2,574 hits were 555 homers and 547 doubles. His slugging percentage upon retirement was .588.He ended with 1,831 runs batted in and 1,544 runs scored. In nine consecutive seasons he had hit 39 home runs and driven in 100.

Cristobal Torriente (Cuba) – The temperamental Cuban outfielder amassed some impressive  statistics both in his native country and in the U.S. Negro Leagues. A stocky left handed hitter with fairly good power, Torriente was a solid defensive center fielder who could also play right fields and pitch and, despite being a left-handed thrower, occasionally lined  up at second base or shortstop.  Torriente won two Negro League batting titles and  had a lifetime batting average there of .331.In Cuba  his career average of .352 is the highest ever.  
In 2006, Torriente was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame along with other players whose race denied them the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues.

Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico) – Probably the best Latin American center fielder of the modern era (rivaled closely by another switch-hitting Puerto Rican, Carlos Beltran) Williams carved out an impressive career with the New York Yankees. Deceptively fleet of foot, Williams won 4 sprint gold medals as a 15 year old at the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Championships. As a Major Leaguer, Williams was a five-time All-Star and four times a World Series champion. He won 4 Gold Gloves and one Silver Slugger award. He was the American  League batting champion in 1998. Williams’ career batting average of .297 was the product of 2,336 hits, which included 449 doubles and 287 home runs. He scored 1,360 runs and batted in1,267.


Camilo Pascual (Cuba)-RHP
Aroldis Chapman (Cuba)-LHP
Francisco Cordero (Dominican Republic)-RHP
Teddy Higuera (Mexico)-LHP
Fernando Valenzuela (Mexico)-LHP
John Candelaria (Puerto Rico)-LHP
Roberto Hernandez (Puerto Rico)-RHP
Felix Hernandez (Venezuela)-RHP

Manny Sanguillen (Panama)
Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico)
Victor Martinez (Venezuela)

Rafael Palmeiro (Cuba)*
Orlando Cepeda (Puerto Rico)
Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico)*
Hector Espino (Mexico)
Adrian Gonzalez (Mexico)

Adrian Beltre (Dominican Republic)
Aramis Ramirez (Dominican Republic)
Vinnie Castilla (Mexico)

Omar Vizquel (Venezuela)
Tony Fernandez (Dominicazn Republic)
Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic)
Dagoberto Campaneris (Cuba)
David Concepcion (Venezuela)
Edgar Renteria (Colombia)
Silvio Garcia (Cuba)

Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic)
Carlos Baerga (Puerto Rico) +
Rennie Stennett (Panama)

Carlos  Guillen (Venezuela)+
Julio Franco (Dominican Republic)
Alfonso Soriano (Dominican Republic)
Cesar Tovar (Vrnezuela)

Tony Oliva (Cuba)*
Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico)+
Moises Alou (Dominican Republic)
Sammy Sosa (Dominican Republic)
Bobby Abreu (Venezuela)*
Magglio Ordonez (Venezuela)
Jose Canseco (Cuba)

David Ortiz (Dominican Republic)
Edgar Martinez (Puerto Rico)
Chili Davis (Jamaica)

MANAGER – Felipe Alou (Dominican Republic)

Before he became the poster boy for Baseball’s battle to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs, Alex Rodriguez was regarded as the Latino player with the widest array of honours among those who have played in the Major Leagues.

Why then was he not included among the twenty-five players  selected to the All-Time Caribbean squad? The answer lies in the question  as to whether the bilingual, bicultural  Rodriguez regards himself as belonging to the category of Latino, as opposed to United States’ players.  At the 2006 World Baseball Classic, after much waffling, he opted to represent the United States rather than the Dominican Republic. For the second Classic, he switched allegiance  but withdrew from the Dominican team before the tournament began. If he chose to be a member of the Caribbean All-Time All-Stars he would replace Luis Apasricio as the starting shortstop and could also fill in at third base. To make room for him, Tony Perez would probably have to be dropped.

Rodriguez’ career statistics are phenomenal. He was three times voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He won two Gold Gloves as a shortstop, to go along with ten Silver Slugger selections. He is one of only three players to have hit more than 40 home runs and stolen more than 40 bases in the same season.

Rodriguez has led the American League five times each in homers and runs scored, four times in total bases and slugging percentage, twice in runs batted in and once each in doubles and batting average. The 14-time All-Star has played for the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers  and New York Yankees in a career which at the end of 2013 had yielded 2,939 hits for a batting average of .299. He had batted in 1,969 runs and scored 1,919. His  home run total stood at (including 24  grand slams) and he had stolen 322 bases. His slugging percentage of .558 ranks him among the all-time leaders and his 5,480 total bases places him among the top 10 Major League hitters.

*  – Left-handed hitter/pitcher
+    Switch-hitter