Brooks, Payton baseball game called off in fear of violence - KMSP-TV

Brooks, Payton baseball game called off in fear of violence

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It has been an excruciating weekend for Walter Payton College Prep baseball coach William Wittleder, who had to cancel his team's game against Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep.

The reason: some parents of Payton's players were scared their kids would get shot.

"He said that one parent got all the other parents together collectively and said it would be hazardous to the kids' health because they might have a drive by in the neighborhood," said Brooks College Prep head coach Bryan Street.

Payton's coach Wittleder is quoted in the Chicago Sun Times as saying, "This is probably one of the most embarrassing moments I've had... It's very heartbreaking. This is totally against what I believe in."

"The parents were in fear of their kids' lives due to we being in the heart of the ghetto. I'm really appalled because this is the nicest facility maybe in the city, we never have any issues up here and we want our boys to play baseball," said Brooks College Prep coach Herbert Redmond.

The players from Payton, which is on the north side, were scheduled to travel to the south side Saturday night.

The game had been in the works for two months but Saturday afternoon, Payton coach Wittleder said, "About three, four parents [came] up to me saying they're not letting their kids go down there" leaving Wittleder with too few players to compete.

Chicago Public Schools released a statement saying, "This has been a very unfortunate misunderstanding between our school communities. We spoke today about the situation leading up to the forfeit of Saturday's game and feel it is time to move past this and allow our student athletes to focus on their futures. We look forward to both of our schools meeting on the field again soon."

9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale tells Fox 32 News that Brooks would never hold a game or invite other kids into a situation that was dangerous and he hopes this never happens again.

Brooks' coach Redmond is concerned the cancellation was racially motivated.

"We have a team full of black and brown boys and I don't know if that still exists in a lot of parents' heads but evidently it does so we're just a little shocked that it's still here in 2013 and Jackie Robinson 42, the movie is just out, maybe they need to go see it," said Brooks College Prep coach Redmond.

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