Although many know about Jackie Robinson’s experiences breaking major league baseball’s colour barrier in 1947, few are familiar with the Chatham Coloured All-Stars, a Black Canadian team from 1930s Ontario who broke racial barriers in baseball even earlier. In 1933, the All-Stars began playing in the primarily white world of organized amateur baseball. The following year, the All-Stars became the first Black team to win a provincial championship.
Sporting Justice begins with a look at a vibrant Black baseball network in southwestern Ontario and Michigan in the 1920s, which fostered the emergence of the Chatham Coloured All-Stars in the 1930s. It follows the All-Stars’ eight years as a team (1933-1940) as they navigated the primarily white world of amateur baseball, including their increasing resistance to racism and unfair treatment. After the team disbanded, Chatham Coloured All-Stars players in the community helped to racially integrate local baseball and supported new Black teams in the 1940s and 1950s.
While exploring the history of Black baseball in one southwestern Ontario community, this book also provides insights into larger themes in Canadian Black history and sport history including gender, class, social justice, and memory and remembrance.
“Miriam Wright’s hard-hitting analysis of Black baseball in Southern Ontario follows teams and players who contested the explicitly racialized social order of the early twentieth century. Drawing on testimony from Wilfred ‘Boomer’ Harding, Ferguson Jenkins Sr., King Terrell, and other Chatham Coloured All-Stars, this marvellous study follows their struggle for social justice on and off the field. With their 1934 Provincial Intermediate B Championship, the All-Stars rose above vicious racism to fashion a legacy of community and racial pride that continues to resonate. Brilliantly connecting baseball to memory, identity, and social meaning, Wright delivers a grand slam. This exemplary study is sport history as it should be crafted.” — Colin Howell, Department of History, Saint Mary’s University
“Sporting Justice is a unique study of a Canadian community rarely explored through the lens of sport, especially from a historical perspective. The narrative takes the reader through the highs and lows of Black Ontarian baseball teams in a captivating social history that makes an important contribution to the study of memory. In that process, the author engages with the oral histories of players, families, communities for whom baseball was a major, hard-fought fulcrum of social life. This book will be pertinent to historians as well as scholars in Black Studies and Cultural Studies.” —Ornella Nzindukiyimana, Department of Human Kinetics, St. Francis Xavier University