Man-O-War Cay, the Bahamas
May 24, 2007
Manager Haziel McDonald’s Texaco Pirates have been competing in the AAU International Tournament for a number of years, improving from a consolation bracket championship in 2003 to third place in the championship bracket this year, following their first ever ISC World Tournament last summer at Kitchener, Canada.
This year, Haziel and the Pirates decided to host a tournament of their own, on the Man-O-Way Cay (pronounced “key”) in the Bahamas, about an hour plane ride off the coast of Florida. Boasting a dream-vacation destination — an island in the sun, and a spectacular beach-front field, Haziel went all out to make the tournament a successful one, but also to spare no effort in making sure that the players and fans would have the best experience possible. Somehow, amidst all of the other tournament preparations, Haziel found time to shuttle players and visitors on his boat (from the Marsh Harbor Airport to Man-O-War Cay, meeting and greeting them dockside, with assists from a number of his Texaco Pirates team and hosting a dinner for a number of his guests. Thursday, he was up in a cherry picker putting new light bulbs in at the field and making the final preparations. By 8pm Friday night, he was in uniform, making out the lineup for his beloved Pirates in the tournament opener.
Man-O-War Cay is a tournament destination like no other, set on an idyllic island in the Bahamas, where the mode of transportation around town is a golf cart and the field is but minutes from the downtown Marina area. The streets resemble wide, smooth sidewalks, where players drive past the homes of Man-O-War residents in golf carts, on their way to the games, and provide an enticement for fans to head down to the ballpark to see what’s going on. It is a quiet New England style village of sorts, with a reputation in the Bahamas for building some of the finest boats in the world, something they continue to do to this day.
Those arriving at the field on opening night of the tournament saw rows of golf carts lining either side of the street leading into the ballpark, a scene that might have one thinking they were at a PGA event, with a shotgun start. Locals set up concession tents behind home plate, next to a sea wall from which you can hear the waves breaking. In the daylight hours leading up to game time, a sparking turquoise ocean provided a picture postcard backdrop to the field.
On opening night of the tournament, Pirates manager Haziel McDonald was the man-of-the-hour-on-Man-O-war, serving as the master of ceremonies, welcoming players and fans alike, and introducing a group of local school children on hand to sing the Bahamian National anthem before the first pitch. On hand to umpire were ISC umpires, Mssrs Gretz and Scott, who arrived at the game by walking out the door of the guest house they are staying in, behind first base. Following pre-game festivities, Miami won the coin toss, and took the field. Three batters into the game, Rhys Casley of the Pirates brought the crowd to its feet with a towering home run over the right field fence, and the first ever Bahamas Invitational saw its first run scored.
Keep an eye on the Morning Brief blog at Fastpitchwest.com, where we are posting updates and some of Maddy’s photos in a daily slide show.
All results will be posted to Al’s Fastball, so check Al’s for scores and more.