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Sports & Recreation History

1934

The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year

by (author) Heidi L.M. Jacobs

Publisher
Biblioasis
Initial publish date
Jun 2023
Category
History, Black Studies (Global), Canadian Studies, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781771964777
    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price
    $24.95

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Description

The true story of the first Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Amateur Association championship.

The pride of Chatham’s East End, the Coloured All-Stars broke the colour barrier in baseball more than a decade before Jackie Robinson did the same in the Major Leagues. Fielding a team of the best Black baseball players from across southwestern Ontario and Michigan, theirs is a story that could only have happened in this particular time and place: during the depths of the Great Depression, in a small industrial town a short distance from the American border, home to one of the most vibrant Black communities in Canada.

Drawing heavily on scrapbooks, newspaper accounts, and oral histories from members of the team and their families, 1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year shines a light on a largely overlooked chapter of Black baseball. But more than this, 1934 is the story of one group of men who fought for the respect that was too often denied them.

Rich in detail, full of the sounds and textures of a time long past, 1934 introduces the All-Stars’ unforgettable players and captures their winning season, so that it almost feels like you’re sitting there in Stirling Park’s grandstands, cheering on the team from Chatham.

About the author

Heidi L.M. Jacobs was born and raised in Edmonton. While attending the University of Alberta, she worked a variety of retail jobs, including selling shoes. She is currently the English and History Librarian at the University of Windsor.

Heidi L.M. Jacobs' profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for 1934

"Ms. Jacobs is the first author to produce a comprehensive account of both the triumphs and tribulations of the team, and the men themselves—their families, communities, and lives before and after baseball ... readers will learn about the peculiar history of Chatham and its place in the Underground Railroad, the racism that Black residents endured, the advocacy of one 19-year-old sports reporter for the white townsfolk to embrace the team as their own, and the bid for respect that playing baseball represented."
—Globe and Mail

“This is really quite a story ... One that a lot of Canadians don’t know about, and should know about.”
—Matt Galloway, CBC’s The Current

“An inspiring story of determination and triumph, grounded in the belief that sport is for everyone.”
—Michael Taube, Literary Review of Canada

"1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year, has much of the import, drama and social implications of (Jackie) Robinson’s barrier breaking, albeit on a much smaller stage ... The book is a good recounting of barnstorming baseball days and the unexpected but hard-won and well-deserved success of a team and community that changed the way many people viewed their race."
—Winnipeg Free Press

“Reading through the book, 1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year it feels almost mythical, like an urban legend made manifest in your hands, bringing to life a story that would make you think you were watching a baseball movie. But this actually happened."
—Windsor Life

"Jacobs’ third book, 1934: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars’ Barrier-Breaking Year, details the breakthrough victory of the Chatham team that won the Ontario Intermediate Amateur Association Championship."
—Windsor Star

"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."
—Caribbean Camera

Praise for 100 Miles of Baseball

“Inspired … They soulfully documented a 2018 road trip to the obscurest of ‘play ball’ destinations, all within a limited radius … The married authors complement each other—he’s the play-by-play guy; she, the colour commentator.”—Globe & Mail

“Their account is presented in each writer’s voice, alternating throughout the text, and is an effective way to describe the games and their reactions to them ... Together they present a full, absorbing account of any level of ball, making the point that the precision of the major leagues and the error-prone play in the minors all contain the same elements ... A solid win for the authors, who rediscovered a genuine joy in watching baseball wherever it is played.”—Winnipeg Free Press

"Dale Jacobs and Heidi LM Jacobs wrote this book to renew their love of baseball, and reading it will renew yours. Together they successfully capture the ritual, romanticism, and enduring beauty of this beloved game, with a back-to-basics approach that will appeal to self-proclaimed experts and perceived outsiders alike. At its core, 100 Miles of Baseball is about endurance, nostalgia, hope, and gratitude, and is a book that handily affirms the game's very best rule--that baseball is for everyone."—Stacey May Fowles, author of Baseball Life Advice

“In 2018, Dale Jacobs and Heidi LM Jacobs set out on the quixotic mission to take in fifty baseball games, from high school parks to the major leagues, in an effort to recapture the magic of the sport as seen live from the stands. Most of the games were played in Michigan and Southern Ontario, but this account will delight any true fan of any team, anywhere. The unexpected twists and turns of the season—like a meaty novel—can disrupt expectations and break hearts at any time. This book is timely, because it explains why the Covid-disrupted sixty-game MLB season in 2020 was so unsatisfying. In sixty games, there was simply no time or space for the joy and redemption this book captures so vividly.”—Susan Jacoby, author of Why Baseball Matters

Praise for Heidi LM Jacobs

“Heidi LM Jacobs nails it. Molly of the Mall relentlessly, hilariously conveys the ennui felt by anyone who has ever read a book and then gone to the mall ... Wicked good fun.”—Kit Dobson

“I am positively besotted by Heidi LM Jacobs’ debut novel, Molly of the Mall, which I kind of suspect was written just for me."—Kerry Clare

“Inspired … They soulfully documented a 2018 road trip to the obscurest of ‘play ball’ destinations, all within a limited radius … The married authors complement each other—he’s the play-by-play guy; she, the colour commentator.”—Globe & Mail

“Their account is presented in each writer’s voice, alternating throughout the text, and is an effective way to describe the games and their reactions to them ... Together they present a full, absorbing account of any level of ball, making the point that the precision of the major leagues and the error-prone play in the minors all contain the same elements ... A solid win for the authors, who rediscovered a genuine joy in watching baseball wherever it is played.”—Winnipeg Free Press

Other titles by Heidi L.M. Jacobs