Jazz plays for family, friends in Bahamian Celebration

June 26th, 2022

MIAMI -- On a Saturday night during the summer, loanDepot park felt like the place to be in South Florida for a matchup between the Mets and Marlins.

It was a Bahamian Heritage Celebration for the latest Legacy Saturday, and Marlins star  dyed his hair blue for the occasion, copying the bobblehead giveaway in his likeness. Bahamas Junkanoo Revue Inc., a performance group based in Miami, marched the main concourse, stopping fans eager to pull out their cell phones to capture the colorful and boisterous spectacle. 

A crowd of 18,722, the third largest at home this season, included reggaeton artist Daddy Yankee in Saturday’s 5-3 Marlins loss to the Mets.

“It's a crazy experience when you have all these people come out here that love you and support you and always want you to do your best,” said Chisholm, who had more than 100 family members and friends in the stands. “It's nothing better than that.”

After he was retired in his first two at-bats, Chisholm doubled in the fifth against Mets righty Chris Bassitt. As he pulled up at second base, Chisholm looked up and saw his Grandma Pat, who introduced him to the sport of baseball, mimicking the team-wide wheel celebration.

From the roar on both of Pete Alonso’s homers from the New York transplants to the home team cheers for Jesús Sánchez’s two-run homer and Bryan De La Cruz’s game-tying shot in the fifth, the energy was electric.

“When you have that amount of fans there supporting you, you can feel the adrenaline running through your veins,” Sánchez said via an interpreter.

Of course the larger-than-normal crowd wasn’t all Chisholm’s doing, but at just 24, he has become a fan favorite and national name -- and how could he not when it’s ‘Jazz’? In this week’s All-Star Game ballot update, he leads all National League second basemen in votes. He is one of only three players in the Majors with at least 12 homers and 12 stolen bases.

One of Chisholm’s mentors, International Elite Sports Academy director Geron Sands, has seen the journey from its early stages. Sands, who attends as many games as he can in Miami, also watched the Marlins at Citi Field during their most recent trip.

Baseball is becoming more popular in the Bahamas, which is 184 miles via plane from Miami. The seventh Bahamian to make the Majors, Chisholm already ranks second all time in hits. His popularity is helping the surge, and it’s no more apparent than with the rest of the Marlins’ organization. Bahamians Ian Lewis (No. 11 prospect), Andre Arthur, Steven Adderley, Cherif Neymour and Toby Simmons also are in the system.

“This is amazing to be in the stadium right now and to come on in, to be able to watch him play in front of all these folks,” Sands told MLB.com. “For me, it's still something I can't believe, just to know that this kid who's come a long way from the Bahamas is out there playing in front of thousands of people.”

With the Marlins trailing, 4-3, in the eighth, Chisholm stepped to the plate hoping to rise to the occasion against the NL’s best. These are moments he lives for. He is tied for the second-most homers (three) in late and close games this season. When Chisholm swung at Seth Lugo’s four-seamer on the outside part of the plate, it initially looked good off the bat. But it easily fell into center fielder Brandon Nimmo’s glove 381 feet from home for the second out of the frame.

Postgame, Chisholm entertained his contingent on the field. He wore a crown made by Pat that read, “Prince Jazz, the legend has returned” in the Bahamian colors of black, aquamarine and gold. His cleats, batting gloves and bandana also were Bahamian themed.

“I definitely wanted that homer,” Chisholm said. “There was nothing more I wanted to do than to do the Euro step with Grandma. I think she would have hit it with me, too. It would've been sick. But it's OK. We fought hard. We played hard and never gave up until the end. I'm proud of my boys every day.”