Windsor librarian and author hits it out the park

By Stephen Weir

The book

Last week it was all home runs for Biblioasis, a Windsor publishing house and bookstore when it launched a new book about the Chatham Coloured All-Stars baseball team. Almost 100 years after becoming the first-All-Black team to win a provincial championship, the All-Stars’ story is now being told by an award-winning author and University of Windsor Librarian Dr. Heidi L. M. Jacobs.

The book “1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year,” is published by Biblioasis. This non-fiction title sheds light on a significant milestone in the history of baseball and racial equality in Canada.

Formed in 1932 by a group of friends in Chatham, Ontario, the Chatham Coloured All-Stars became the first all-Black organized baseball team in the province. Initially, they embarked on tours throughout Ontario, often competing against all-white teams in exhibition games.  A year later they joined the Ontario Baseball Amateur Association and began playing in the city league.

Blake Harding, Heidi Jacobs, Don Tabron, Dr Deirdre McCorkindale

In , the team achieved an extraordinary feat by becoming the first all-Black team to secure a provincial OBAA championship. Their resounding victory not only made history but also paved the way for future generations of Canadian Black baseball players.

“1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year” pieces together in this compelling narrative. Drawing from scrapbooks, newspaper accounts, and oral histories shared by team members and their families, Dr. Jacobs paints a vivid portrait of a largely overlooked chapter in Black baseball.

The story is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Chatham, a small industrial town near Windsor and the American border had a vibrant Black community. Their Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ journey stands as a testament to their resilience and unwavering pursuit of respect and recognition.

“1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year” serves as a powerful tribute to the All-Stars’ indomitable spirit and remarkable achievements.

Through Jacobs’ compelling storytelling, this book not only celebrates the triumphs of a historic baseball team but also highlights the larger societal struggle for equality and justice.

Heidi L. M. Jacobs is a Canadian writer of both novels and non-fction titles, She won the 2020 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. She is also a librarian at the University of Windsor.