The All-Stars were comprised of 14 ballplayers in the Charleston Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. Little League, the only African American league in the Deep South sanctioned by Little League Baseball, Incorporated. The roster consisted of: Allen Jackson, John Rivers, Carl Johnson, Arthur Peoples, Charles Bradley, John Bailey, William “Buck” Godfrey, Vernon Grey, Leroy Major, John Mack, David Middleton, Norman Robinson, Maurice Singleton, and Vermont “Pop” Brown.Alternates were Leroy Carter, and George Gregory. August Holt was an honorary member.
In 1955, Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. president Robert F. Morrison, and team manager Ben Singleton, entered the team in the Charleston Little League Championship Tournament. South Carolina’s 61 eligible white teams organized a boycott and refused to play this all black team. Because of this refusal to play, the Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. team was declared South Carolina State Little League champions by default.
The team was invited to the Little League World Series as guests. Parents and community leaders held numerous fundraisers. Civil rights activist Esau Jenkins provided transportation for the trip. While in attendance, the team was granted a brief practice session. Their enthusiasm and skill inspired crowd chants of, “Let Them Play!” Despite pleas from parents and coaches, the team was denied their chance. Their effort to integrate, however, culminated in a “second secession” and the creation of a segregated Dixie League in Charleston and other southern cities. In August 2005, the All-Stars received recognition for their deferred championship dreams and were inducted into Charleston’s Baseball Hall of Fame (2006).
Coach Singleton encouraging Cannon Street Y.M.C.A. All-Stars in Williamsport, PA, 1955.
Photo courtesy of the Little League Baseball and Softball Association