Thursday, January 3, 2019
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
BAHAMIAN baseball icon Antoan Richardson is set to take on a new role in his professional career in the front office with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Richardson spent yesterday morning at the place where he first honed his skills, the Freedom Farm Baseball Complex, working with groups of young players preparing for opening day.
Richardson, 35, discussed his much anticipated role as an outfield coordinator in the Player Development Department for the Blue Jays. “They were familiar with me as a player, they recognised some things we were doing here on the island with Project Limestone and I think they just had interest in seeing if I was interested in learning what it takes to progress in the business off the field. After spending a year with them in a part-time role, observing and learning more and the culture and learning about me, they wanted to kind of make it more of a permanent fit and asked me to come on full time.”
He spent his entire 12-year professional baseball career as an outfielder throughout several organisations.
“My responsibility is to lead a group of coaches in the development of outfielders defensively in getting to the major leagues. It’s a pretty big responsibility and I’m really humbled that they would put that in my hands but I think that the group of guys we have in terms of coaching staff, the players, we’re going to have some fun and an opportunity to help some guys get better.”
Richardson will continue to reside in the Bahamas but will work within the Blue Jays organisation at various levels.
“My work is going to be throughout the whole organisation but I think the plan is for me to spend more time on the minor league side. I’ll definitely be in communication with the team at the major league level because we have to be in sync with what we are teaching and what we are training so that we make sure we develop a product they can use at the minor league level.”
Since his retirement, Richardson has spent most of his time travelling locally and internationally speaking to and encouraging young people on their life journeys. His heart has been entrenched at home, where he volunteers his time, mentoring youth in the Bahamas through Project Limestone - a non-profit organisation he established shortly after his retirement.
“It’s been a steady climb. We’ve had an opportunity to do some things on the baseball field, we’ve had an opportunity to do some things in the classroom. I think the response from the community and the kids have been good. We’ve been encouraged seeing the kids get better as athletes but better in both settings. We look forward to growing, finding a space of our own and cultivating this thing, focusing on expanding so we can have more of a national impact.”
Richardson applauded the work of the young generation of baseball players that continue the legacy of Bahamian baseball through new and inivative concepts – such as this weekend’s Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise.
“I think they’ re doing a really good job, they’re making baseball exciting. I think the way they work together like a brotherhood and doing things together is important as well. So when people see them working together that’s great for the game,” he said, “The Don’t Blink Home Run Derby is an exciting concept, it’s really brining more and more people to baseball, getting them to know what’s happening, brining flair to the game, so I’m proud of what they are doing on and off the field. I feel like baseball in general is in good hands and will be in good hands for years to come.”
Richardson retired from his 12 year professional career in March 2017.
He followed Andre Rodgers, Wenty Ford, Tony Curry, Wilfred Culmer and Ed Armbrister, to become the sixth Bahamian player to advance to the major leagues.
After matriculating through Palm Beach Community College and Vanderbilt University, Richardson was drafted four times before he finally signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2005 to begin his professional career. In 2011, he was promoted to the major leagues with the Atlanta Braves. He also played for the New York Yankees in 2014 and concluded his career with the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2016.