By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Whenever Eileene Parsons asked Terrance “Chino” Chinnery about returning to the BVI starting in 1979, he’d always told her he’s coming. His arrival didn’t materialize until 1997. Since then, Chinnery has been working on the development of softball and baseball with young boys and girls, exposing them to various opportunities.
On Tuesday, Chinnery had a deep reflection and a feeling of pride, after Great Britain qualified for the European Baseball Championships quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, with the help of BVI players Nateshon “Shadow” Thomas, Shamoy “Shrimpy” Christopher and Kennard Dawson, whose development he shaped in their formative years. Chinnery was in awe of how far his tutelage had come, starting with Thomas as a 10 year old in 1998.
“Who would have thought the BVI would be so great in baseball,” Chinnery said on reflection with Island Sun Sports. “Maybe soccer, basketball or some other sport. Not baseball. But to produce three starters on the Great Britain Baseball team? That’s unbelievable.”
In Sunday’s 7-2 opening victory over France—just Great Britain’s third in 14 games— Christopher, who went 1-for-2 was behind the plate; Dawson who tripled and scored a run and had an RBI, was in Left Field and Thomas who finished 0-for-3, played in Center. Thomas, who plays in Germany and had been playing with Great Britain in the Euros since 2016, said it was fun to watch Christopher and Dawson who he knew as young players growing up.
“I’m almost lost for words,” Thomas told Island Sun Sports from Torino, Italy. “These guys came from the same place I came from and they’re just tearing it up. They’re playing good baseball, doing things for themselves and for the BVI, so it’s been fun to watch. Today (Tuesday) I really got a chance to sit back and watch everything play out since I wasn’t playing and it was a great feeling watching these men who I saw growing up, going out and playing baseball and contributing to the team.”
Dawson said it wasn’t till afterward that he realized how much they had collectively contributed in the victory over France. “It just happened so quickly at different points,” he noted. “Taking my time and going back to see what had happened, it was surreal to know how much of an impact we had, especially coming from such a small island.”
Christopher was in treatment and was unavailable to join Thomas and Dawson during the interview.
On Monday, GB overcame a 7-0 deficit when they stormed back with four runs in the eight before falling to Russia, 7-6. Switch hitting Christopher was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Dawson also had a 2-for-4 day, while Thomas was 0-for-1. Neither Christopher or Dawson—who had a home run saving catch—had a hit in GB’s 11-4 loss to Israel on Tuesday, as they were restricted to four hits. Thomas didn’t play. France’s 5-4 victory over Russia, gave GB second place in the group as they all posted 1-2 records, but GB advanced on the tieb-reaker their first trip to the quarter finals in 14 years.
“Since I’ve been with Great Britain, we’ve always been in the relegation rounds, when you’re playing to stay in the European Championships,” Thomas reflected on his five years tenure. “In the relegation rounds you have to play in another tournament to qualify for the championships, so this is huge for Great Britain. Since I’ve been on the team, we’ve never been at that level and now have an opportunity to play for medals and finish higher than we have in recent years.”