Book on Chatham Coloured All-Stars, groundbreaking Black baseball team, wins history book award

A group shot of the Chatham Coloured All Stars baseball team.  (Supplied by the Harding family - image credit)
A group shot of the Chatham Coloured All Stars baseball team. (Supplied by the Harding family - image credit)

A book about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars, the region's groundbreaking Black baseball team, has won a prize in history.

Sporting Justice: the Chatham Coloured All-Stars and Black Baseball in Southwestern Ontario, 1915-1958 by Miriam Wright recently won the Clio Prize for best book on Ontario history, awarded by the Canadian Historical Association. Wright is a history professor at the University of Windsor.

LISTEN: Local history book takes home Clio Prize

"It's really gratifying, not just for me, but for the story, for the community," Wright told CBC News. "This all started as a public history project back in 2015 when I happened to meet Pat Harding, who was the daughter-in-law of one of the players.

"I would never have imagined that we would have ended up in this place. But it's been really exciting to see this story resonates with the wider public."

The All-Stars were one of a number of Black baseball teams to play in the 1920s and 1930s, Wright says, and were the first Black team to play in a provincial championship with the Ontario Baseball Amateur Association, in 1934.

"It profiled Black baseball. It showcased kind of talents that existed in Black communities and I think the impact was was huge," Wright said.

The Canadian Historical Association, which awarded the prize, is made up of university professors and students as well people who work in the history and heritage industries, Wright says, making her hopeful that means the book will reach the next generation of teachers and students and share the story of the All-Stars with even more people.

"I think it's going to create a sort of a higher profile for the story in different audiences," she said. "You know, we've done a great job at reaching people in southwest Ontario, but this needs to go across the country. And I think this prize is one of the ways that we can do that."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.