Chatham Colored All-Stars kicked out of Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame – again

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Disappointed parents of the Chatham Colored All-Stars continue to hope the trailblazing team will eventually enter the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame after failing to be re-elected this year.

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Former Colorado Rockies ace Jeff Francis was the lone member of the Class of 2022 announced Feb. 2 by St. Marys Shrine.

“I woke up early this morning and was really hoping this would be good news,” said Blake Harding, son of All-Stars first baseman Wilfred (Boomer) Harding. “I tried not to be bitter. That’s one of the lessons my dad taught me about life – it doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to or the way you think it should.

“Just keep going and keep working on it, I guess. So many people put so much forward, it would be the icing on the cake.

The 1934 Colored All-Stars were the first black team to win an Ontario Baseball Amateur Association championship.

Their many descendants and supporters have worked for years to bring the team into the Hall of Fame. They hosted a celebratory softball game for hundreds of spectators in October 2021 at Fergie Jenkins Field in Rotary Park.

Chatham-Kent Council also approved the team’s induction last year and asked for support from municipalities across Canada.

Only five teams — two community teams and three national teams — have been inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame since the first class was inducted in 1983.

“We try. You do your best and maybe one day he will make it,” said Horace Chase, son of All-Stars pitcher and slugger Earl (Flat) Chase. we can hope, I suppose.

“Maybe if they start with this team, other teams will get into it. That’s what I was hoping for.

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The results of the vote are not made public, Hall of Fame chief operating officer Scott Crawford said.

The Colored All-Stars have been on the ballot since 2017 and remain eligible until 2026, he said.

There’s no more lobbying to do, Blake Harding said, because All-Star information is easy to find online.

“You want the facts? It’s there,” he said. “…You just can’t put more in there. We told the story and we continue to tell the story.

The Toronto Blue Jays released a short video on February 1 honoring the All-Stars as part of Black History Month. The video is narrated by legendary pitcher Fergie Jenkins, a native of Chatham, the first Canadian inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“There weren’t many colored players playing in that particular area, especially in Ontario,” said Jenkins, whose father, Fergie Jr., joined the All-Stars in 1935. “Often going to Stratford or different towns north of Toronto they would be in trouble, people wouldn’t play them, they were going to protest the plays and lose the win to the other team.

“They played well before Jackie Robinson had the opportunity to make his major league debut with the Dodgers (in 1947). I just think they sacrificed a lot to show people that as a group , they were a good, good team.

The Blue Jays wore replica All-Stars jerseys at one game in 2001 and another in 2002. Hundreds of Chatham-Kent fans, including many descendants of the All-Stars, attended the 2002 game at the SkyDome.

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The team’s last surviving player, Don Tabron, died in December 2008 at the age of 93.

The All-Stars were inducted into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Baseball Ontario Hall of Fame in 2018.

The All-Stars were formed in 1932. They spent most of the decade playing games around the province when not competing in the City Baseball League.

Players came not only from Chatham and Kent County, but also from Windsor, Detroit and Walpole Island. The team was backed by businessman and future Mayor of Chatham, Archie Stirling, known as Mr. Baseball.

They faced discrimination on and off the pitch. Opposing fans hurled racial slurs and threats. Referees made questionable calls. Hotels and restaurants refused them.

In 1934 they started the OBAA Intermediate B playoffs by eliminating Sarnia, Welland and Milton. They faced off in the best-of-three final against the Penetang Shipbuilders, who were led by future major league pitcher Phil Marchildon.

The teams split the first two matches. After a controversial decision to end Game 3 in the 11th inning due to darkness with the All-Stars leading, the teams met for a rematch in Guelph. The All-Stars won 13-7 to win Chatham’s first OBAA championship

The Colored All-Stars were also the first black team to make the OBAA playoffs.

“I have so much respect for this ball team and the people and what they’ve done for the community and the province,” said Blake Harding. “…They’re Hall of Famers as far as I’m concerned.”

The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 18. The 2020 ceremony has been cancelled, so this year’s festivities will also include the class of 2020: Justin Morneau, Duane Ward, John Olerud and Jacques Doucet.

The Class of 2021 was made up of 17 historic inductees who were posthumously honored in a virtual ceremony in November.

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