After successfully defending the baseball gold medal in the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 at their newly renovated home field, Saipan Baseball League president Jay Santos had nothing but praises for the CNMI National Baseball Team for all their hard work and sacrifices.
“The fruits of their labor has shown through the gold medal… and I’m very, very proud,” the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers fan told Saipan Tribune during an interview yesterday.
The SBL president said he couldn’t have scripted it better after Team NMI’s 12-9 win against archrival Guam in the finals in front of more than a thousand fans that encircled the Francisco “Tan’Ko” M. Palacios Baseball Field.
“[I am] extremely proud of the men that came together to put our national team together. It was eight months of a lot of hard work. There was a lot of time taken away from family and work… And so I’m very thankful to all the players for their commitment. And to the manager, Manny Sablan, and the coaching staff, Deron [Flores], Gary [Cruz], and Chris [Nelson], I’m very, very thankful to all of them,” he said.
Santos said Team NMI’s gold medal is very impressive considering the players haven’t played an SBL season for nearly three years as Super Typhoon Yutu rendered the baseball field at the Oleai Sports Complex unplayable.
When asked what the team has done so far in terms of celebrating the win after the finals, he said “I’m sure they’re all recovering from their hangovers, which is very deserving.… Honestly, the board of directors for SBL and the coaching staff [will] get together with the team and celebrate. They deserve it. They’re going to have a proper celebration and then immediately right after that I hope to get right back to work.”
Santos also said that he’s “asked many of them over the time during practice that they all consider helping put teams together so we can get new leagues and have them coach. And also have them put men’s teams together as well so we can put together a men’s league.”
Lastly he gave a huge thank you to Steve from USA Fanter and his construction team and also to the staff at Coral Ocean Resort for transforming the Palacios baseball field into a world class facility.
“We had nothing but great comments from the visiting teams. They were very, very impressed with the field. Huge thanks to the Saipan Baseball League board, especially Bernard Cabrera and his team. They were the ones that daily maintained the field and made sure it was ready for baseball. So they put a lot of hard work into that. I’m very proud of our board. They are a really great group of professionals that from what I think helped make a very successful tournament.”
With the baseball team’s gold medal win last Friday, Santos is “hopeful that this will help put baseball back on the map for us here this year.”
Santos said the SBL board is taking a break after the Mini Games and they will meet sometime next week to hopefully put out more information about a baseball league in the CNMI as it comes.