SPRINGFIELD – In 1934, an American Legion baseball team from Springfield was denied the opportunity to plays team in Gastonia, NC, because on of its players “Bunny” Taliaferro was black. Decades later the two teams will finally meet and play.
The American Legion Post 21 team from Springfield and the American Legion Post 23 from Gastonia will play a series of three games. There will be a game played at Chicopee’s Szot Park at 6:30 p.m. on June 19, followed by another game at Western New England University on June 20 at noon.
The climax of the series will be at Walker Grandstand at Forest Park at 11:30 a.m. on June 21.
Sandy Federico on the Parks Department told Reminder Publications the invitation for the two teams to meet was made about a year ago and planning for the games has been taking place for the last four to five months.
Federico explained that Mayor John Bridgeman of Gastonia had learned of the story after the two books about it written by Springfield College Professor Richard Anderson had been released. He sent Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno a letter of apology.
Fedrico called the series “a chance to rewrite history.”
The lone surviving member of the Springfield team, Tony King, will throw out the first pitch at age 97 at the game in Forest park.
Sarno said, “This is a terrific teaching moment for our cities respective teams and our nation. This is a wonderful chance for this story to come full circle in the spirit of camaraderie.”
Federico said next year the Springfield team plans to go to Gastonia for a series of games.
Aside from the regular admission fee to Forest Park, the games will be free of charge.
“This is a real feel-good for all parties,” Federico said.