By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A Toronto marketing company that worked on the campaign to immortalize the 1934 Chatham Coloured All-Stars is lending its expertise to Chatham-Kent’s new Intercounty League Baseball team.
According to a media release, officials from ‘The Hive’ have reached out to offer their help in coming up with a name, visual identity and uniform design for the new team, with an eye on drawing on the inspiration of the 1934 Chatham Coloured All Stars – the first all-Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Association Championship.
The agency is the force behind a partnership between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission and Major League Baseball to honour the memory of the Coloured All-Stars through baseball’s popular video game, MLB The Show 22.
Considering Chatham’s rich baseball history and previous work on the game, Dustin Rideout said the new collaboration is a good fit.
“When I heard Chatham-Kent was getting a new team, my first call was to our friends at The Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society,” said The Hive’s, chief strategy officer and company partner. “Their partnership was an important part of our work with MLB, so having them on board again was an important consideration in taking on this project.”
Rideout explains that C-K is a special sports region in Canadian history, “so to help play a small part to keep the spotlight shining bright is an honour for us.
“You could say The Hive and its creators have a deep bench when it comes to sport.”
The Hive has worked with every major sport league in North America.
Chatham IBL team president and owner Dom Dinelle is pleased The Hive has stepped up.
“We were thrilled when The Hive reached out to offer their services for this project,” Dinelle said.
“We were all huge fans of the work they did with the All-Stars and to have a firm of their expertise want to help create our team brand is exciting. We see this as a great opportunity to both cement our baseball foundation here in Chatham-Kent, while honouring those who paved the way for us.”
The announcement paves a new path for the IBL team that announced its new name as the Chatham-Kent Blackbirds in late January. But was quickly discovered that “blackbirds and blackbirding” are derogatory terms related to the slave trade, where people were kidnapped or tricked to board ships and work as slaves or poorly paid labourers far from home.
The club said it was dropping the blackbirds name to “better reflect” the diverse cultural history of Chatham-Kent.
Team officials have been lauded for their quick action in dropping the Blackbird name after finding out the meaning, especially in light of the fact that Chatham-Kent is central to the Black history story citing its importance as a terminus for the Underground Railroad.
The Hive has kicked off the brand project while the team will take the field for their inaugural season in 2024.