The Field of Honour charity baseball game has turned into an event.
The inaugural game took place last year, featuring Black and Indigenous descendants of the famed 1934 Chatham Coloured All Stars that was the first all-Black team in Canada to win a provincial title.
This time around, the charity game has morphed into a daylong event and will feature Chatham native and former Major Leaguer Fergie Jenkins on Sept. 24.
Sam Meredith, executive director of the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society and curator of the Black Mecca Museum, is excited to see the event expand. She said the support shown at last year’s Field of Honour game showed interest was there to expand.
“After the game, we had more people interested in playing. Some of the older guys and girls had a little trouble keeping up with the young folks as well,” she said. “They all had fun, but this lets more people play.”
The OLG and Major League Baseball are involved in this year’s event.
Organizers said this year’s festivities will honour this iconic baseball team and will also bring the 1934 All Stars back to life on the virtual baseball field.
Game developers have painstakingly recreated look-alike members of the 1934 team, their home ball diamond, uniforms and team artefacts, and incorporated them into the latest edition of the popular baseball video game, MLB The Show.
It all kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at Fergie Jenkins Field at Rotary Park in Chatham. At that time, there will be pregame events and preview opportunities of the video game.
At 11 a.m., the 50-plus teams take to the field for the Golden Agers matchup.
It will be followed by a cheque presentation by the OLG to the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society at 1 p.m.
At 1:45 p.m., players aged 18-49 will take to the field for the New Generation game.
Jenkins, whose father played on the 1934 team, will be on hand for the fun, and will be stationed in the OLG tent at the event.
Meredith said the OLG will have video game systems setup for people to play The Show.
“They did such a good job in trying to make the players look like all the guys in the (1934 All-Stars team) photograph. It’s so cool to see,” she said.
The OLG, in appreciation for the support received from the C-K Black Historical Society, is donating an undisclosed amount to the society.
“They’re sponsoring the game and they’re thanking us for the help on their project,” Meredith said.
Admission is by donation, she added.
The canteen will be open to provide food, there will be door prizes and a merchandise tent, Meredith said.
She advises people who plan to attend on Saturday to bring a lawn chair in case the grandstand seating is full.
Meredith is hopeful the popularity of the event will steamroll. She and other organizers have already begun to plan for 2023, and she said the fact the Coloured All Stars were inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame this year, there is even more interest.
Last year, the Field of Dreams game was part of a push to get the team inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, but it fell short.
Meredith hopes to see that change in the future.
The OLG has put together a video commemorating the 1934 All Stars. To view it, and to learn more about Saturday’s festivities, visit olg.ca/ChathamPlaysOn.