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'I really wanted to help': students petitioning Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to induct Chatham Coloured All-Stars

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Students at Queen Elizabeth II Public School in Chatham are calling on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to induct the 1934 Chatham Coloured All-Stars team into its Hall of Fame.

The students started a petition after hosting the Chatham Coloured All-Stars travelling exhibit earlier this month during Black History Month, shortly after the historic team again failed to get the Hall of Fame nod.Petition at Queen Elizabeth II Public School in Chatham

“We were surprised and then we were frustrated and there was a little bit of anger,” said teacher, Terri Coatsworth.

“How do you take being frustrated or angry and then how do you channel that into something productive and something positive?” Coatsworth explained.

“Because it's easy to be angry in our society and everybody can be angry and everybody can rant, but they wanted to see something happen.”

The team was first placed on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 2017 but have not received the votes needed from the selection committee to be inducted, despite extensive multi-year campaigns to gain the recognition.

Coatsworth said she and her class were shocked to learn that the team hadn’t already received the induction, given the All-Stars’ high profile across Canada, noting many students have friends and family whose relatives played on the team.

“The profile for the team has been so high, like they're in MLB The Show 22,” Coatsworth said. “You can play as that team into like, a Major League Baseball video game that's really popular.”

The 1934 Chatham Coloured All Stars team is recognized as the first all-Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Association title. The players not only showcased their talent but also courageously faced racial discrimination during an era of segregation.

Coatsworth said the induction would not only honour the trailblazing athletes but also serve as a powerful reminder of Canada’s progress towards racial equality in sports.

“It is time for us to acknowledge their achievements and ensure that future generations learn about these local heroes who defied societal norms for love of the game,” Coatsworth said.

Some students believe the team is still facing racism as they wonder what is actually preventing the Chatham Coloured All-Stars from getting the support needed from the Hall of Fame selection committee.

“I mean, it's kind of racist that they just didn't do it the first time,” stated grade 8 student Solomon Prince, who has relatives that played for the team.

“I hope they get inducted,” he exclaimed.

Sixth grade student Kate Prince said, “I think they should have already been inducted.”

“It would be great for them to get in,” she said. “It is kind of disappointing that they weren't originally.”

Others like Grade 8 student Mekayen Brown, said they hope the petition can get at least one thousand signatures, noting there are copies circulating throughout the community and online.

“I was pretty furious when I heard that they weren’t inducted in the Hall of Fame,” Brown said. “I really wanted to help out any way I can.”

Officials with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s told CTV News the team can remain on the active HOF ballot until 2026 while dismissing suggestions of racism as the reason for why the team has yet to be included.

“I don't think it's anything like that,” said Director of Operations, Scott Crawford. “I think it's just a process for the Selection Committee to go through each year and take everyone on the ballot and who has been nominated and, you know, come to a conclusion of what they feel is most deserving and as I say, they're on the ballot still, they've been on the ballot so they're getting votes each year.”

“Every year, people get into our Hall of Fame, and every year people don't get into the Hall of Fame.”

Crawford said, “The Selection Committee is spread across Canada. So it covers the whole country and there’s 24 voting members,“ Crawford explained. “You need 75 per cent to get inducted, that's sort of the process and how it works.”

“They're on the active ballot for two more years of 2025 and 2026. And then after that, we have a Veterans Committee that continues to look at the nominations each year.”

Crawford added, “It’s just one of those things that needs to keep being built on and talked about and recognized further.”

 

https://windsor.ctvnews.ca/it-breaks-my-heart-descendants-of-chatham-coloured-all-stars-disappointed-with-canadian-baseball-hof-1.6763503

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