The Chatham Coloured All-Stars getting their due

Chatham Coloured All-Stars 1934 Championship photo (Breaking the Colour Barrier, accessed November 25, 2020,

The Chatham Coloured All-Stars are being inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The team will receive the Order of Sport, Canada’s highest sporting honour, in October.

The Chatham Coloured All-Stars will be one of two teams in the new Trailblazers category. This year’s class marks the first inception of the Trailblazer category. The category recognizes individuals or teams who are notable for their contributions to sports, their impact on the broader culture, and who have paved the way for the next generation of Athletes and Builders.

The team was formed in 1932 and challenged discriminatory perceptions of black athletes more than a decade before Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.

“Only playing as a team for seven years, they made a lasting impression during a difficult and hostile time for Black Canadians,” wrote the Hall in a statement. “They forged ahead despite the barriers, leaving baseball immeasurably enriched by all they had overcome.”

The Chatham Coloured All-Stars won the City Championship in 1934 after losing only one regular-season game and proceeded to make history as the first black team to win a provincial baseball championship in Ontario, defeating Penetanguishene to claim the OBAA Intermediate B division title.

“Despite their championship calibre, the Chatham Coloured All-Stars regularly faced discrimination on and off the field, playing through racial taunts and threats of violence, injuries deliberately committed by opposing teams, and questionable officiating calls,” said the Hall. “They also encountered difficulties travelling to games at a time when Black people were often barred from restaurants and hotels in southern Ontario and financial resources were much more difficult for coloured athletes to secure than their white counterparts.”

The team featured first baseman Wilfred “Boomer” Harding and his brothers Andy and Len, pitcher Earl “Flat” Chase, who set home run records across southern Ontario, right fielder Cliff Olby, centre fielder Ferguson Jenkins Sr., as well as Indigenous pitcher Willie Shaugnosh, who joined the team in 1935.

The team disbanded during the Second World War when several members signed up for military service.

The Chatham Coloured All-Stars was again snubbed by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in February.

Other 2022 inductees to the Sports Hall of Fame include hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden, sportscaster Brian Williams, and soccer player Dwayne de Rosario.

President and CEO of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Cheryl Bernard said this class features individuals and trailblazers who are renowned in the sporting community and instrumental in the growth of their respective sports. Bernard said each inductee has gone “beyond the win” to build more opportunities for those who came after them and continue to give back to the community.

“This diverse Class of 2022 includes Olympians, Paralympians, sport builders, sporting icons, Order of Canada recipients, educators, military veterans, national team members and World Champions,” said Bernard. “These are ordinary Canadians who have achieved extraordinary things and have remarkable stories to share. Through the lens of sport, these stories put a spotlight on important topics, personify resiliency and showcase overcoming adversity, changing the way each of us sees the world and ourselves.”

The ceremony will be held on October 6, 2022, in Toronto.