Lee Bennett, one of the coaches of the famed Cannon Street All-Stars Little League baseball team, died Wednesday.
“Charleston has lost a giant,” said Gus Holt, historian of the team, which was part of the first black Little League in South Carolina.
“He left a lasting impression on kids in the Charleston peninsula, both on the East Side and the West Side.”
Holt said Bennett was the last surviving coach of the Cannon Street All-Stars, who in 1955 won their way into the city playoffs.
They were denied postseason competition when white teams refused to play them.
The Cannon Street All-Stars were invited to the 1955 Little League World Series, but only as spectators. Their story became a touchstone in the struggle for civil rights.
Holt said Bennett was one of the charter coaches of the Little League program, and used to coach on a baseball field that stood where the South Carolina Aquarium is now located.
But his influence went beyond baseball, Holt said.
“A lot of his kids went on to accomplish great things,” Holt said.
“He taught carpentry and upholstery at the Boys and Girls Club for many years. He worked hard in his church, in the schools and in the community. He was a giant.”