The Chatham Colored All-Stars were introduced to a new generation via the video game MLB The Show

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Gaming technology introduces the Chatham Colored All-Stars baseball team to a new generation of fans.

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OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society have partnered with game developers to help create a digitized version of the 1934 Chatham Colored All-Stars, the first black baseball team. to help players to win an Ontario Baseball Association championship.

The Chatham Colored All-Stars are now embedded as a playable team in the MLB The Show video game, said OLG director of media relations Tony Bitonti.

On Saturday there will be an opportunity to preview the video game when a Field of Honor charity baseball game honoring the Chatham Colored All-Stars is held at Fergie Jenkins Field in Rotary Park in Chatham.

Noting that the Higher Regional Court “always wants to be part of the community,” Bitonti said the company was working with an agency on various ways to give back to communities, and the story of the 1934 Chatham Colored All-Stars came up.

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“We thought it was a fascinating story that they won their championship for the first time in 1934, breaking color barriers and overcoming incredible chances,” he said.

It is well documented the many forms of prejudice the team endures.

“The times they played were not the best of times for our country, for our province, for the world. . . It was incredible that they persevered and emerged victorious,” Bitonti said.

He said they were brainstorming ideas and someone suggested “it would be cool if we could rebuild the team”.

The idea hatched to recreate the team for a video game, he added.

Bitonti said OLG received Major League Baseball’s blessing on the project.

This photo shows part of the digitization process of Wilfred 'Boomer' Harding, a member of the 1934 OBA Champion Chatham Colored All-Stars, to become part of a virtual team that is now embedded as a playable team in the video game MLB The Show.  (handout)
This photo shows part of the digitization process of Wilfred ‘Boomer’ Harding, a member of the 1934 OBA Champion Chatham Colored All-Stars, to become part of a virtual team that is now embedded as a playable team in the video game MLB The Show. (handout)

“We worked with game developers who recreated the team from images and recreated their uniforms and field from 1934,” he added.

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He said OLG also worked with the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, which was enthusiastic and received support from descendants of team members.

The team is probably well known across Chatham-Kent, “but how well known is it across the province?” Bitonti said.

“We want to draw attention to the baseball legends and let their memories live on with the next generation,” he added.

MLB Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, who will be in attendance at Saturday’s Field of Honor event, will be featured in a video promoting the team’s inclusion in the video game, which will be part of the pre-game events starting at 10 a.m :30 p.m. start

Major League Ballball Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins looks on in awe as he previews the digitized version of the 1934 OBA Champion Chatham Colored All-Stars, now embedded as a playable team in the MLB The Show video game .  (handout)
Major League Ballball Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins looks on in awe as he previews the digitized version of the 1934 OBA Champion Chatham Colored All-Stars, now embedded as a playable team in the MLB The Show video game . (handout)

“I think it’s great to see a team from the past play,” Jenkins says in the video as he previews the digitized version of the team.

Bitonti said Jenkins will be signing autographs but doesn’t know if the legendary pitcher will don a uniform and play.

The day also includes a “Golden Agers” baseball game for players over 50 starting at 11 am

At 1:00 p.m. there will be a Higher Regional Court check presentation to the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, followed by a second New Generation baseball game for players ages 18-49 beginning at 1:45 p.m

“We’re very excited and we’re very proud of that,” said Bitonti.

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