The Miramichi Reader
Shawna Butler, June 20, 2022
On Account of Darkness: Shining Light on Race and Sport
I have to say that a tremendous amount of research went into writing this book. I follow a lot of different sports daily and I have been around sports my whole life as a former elite athlete and now as a Coach. Some of the stories go back to the late 1800s and some are more recent. The book examines sports, race, and the history of Chatham-Kent (Ontario). Baseball, hockey, boxing, horse racing, basketball, golf, fishing and the Olympics. On Account of Darkness has stories about excellence and exclusion in all these sports.
Kennedy has collected more than 100 years of stories about athletes who excelled amid systemic racism. This movement helped him realize that in addition to celebrating athletes who fought for inclusion, we need to also recognize how sport acted (and still acts) as a vehicle for exclusion.
The book includes stories about the Chatham Colored All-Stars and baseball Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins, but Kennedy said there have been many Black, Indigenous and Japanese-Canadian athletes from the area who have made an impact on the sport. Other athletes featured in the book include professional fisher Bob Izumi, baseball players Herb and Mel Wakabayashi, Rollie Miles both a baseball and football star and hockey player Gerry Binga.
One of the most interesting facts in Kennedy’s book is about the title of the book comes from an umpire’s decision at what was supposed to be the deciding game for the Chatham Colored All-Stars at the Ontario Baseball Association championship in 1934. The score was tied in the 11th inning of the third game and the umpire called it because of darkness, even though there was still enough light to play more innings. The team won the championship anyway after the next game. Because of Kennedy’s research, these stories will forever be preserved for all to enjoy and learn from.
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