Cannon Street All-Stars get historical marker

Members of the Cannon Street All-Stars baseball team.

The 1955 Cannon Street Little League All-Star team will be honored Saturday with the unveiling of a historical marker former players and supporters hope will be placed at Charleston’s Harmon Field. The marker explaining the team’s sad but triumphant story makes its public debut at noon at the Arthur Christopher Community Center at 265 Fishburne Street.

A panel discussion about the team will include historian Ramon Jackson, team historian Gus Holt, Avery Research Center curator Curtis Franks, and retired school administrator and coach Eugene Graves. Former Cannon Street team member William (Buck) Godfrey, one of the most successful high school football coaches in Georgia high school history, will be present to sign his book, “The Team Nobody Would Play.”

The event is open to the public.

“The proposed marker will commemorate the site where a group of children became the central figures in a major civil-rights activity,” Holt said. “To understand the struggle of African-Americans to gain their equality in the 20th century, you have to understand the story of the Cannon Street Y All- Stars. It’s not just a Charleston story, but it has national significance as well.”

The Cannon Street All-Stars were part of the first black Little League in South Carolina. They won their way into the city playoffs but were denied postseason competition when white teams refused to play them in city, state and regional competition. The team was invited to the 1955 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., but only as spectators.

Despite their disappointments, the players grew into successful men and the team received lots of national publicity after publication of a 1995 Sports Illustrated feature. The marker to be revealed July 14 will recognize the ballfield that was the site of their 1955 games.

Saturday night, the team members will be recognized at the Charleston RiverDogs’ game against the Greenville Drive at 7:05 p.m. That game will also honor former players from the Negro Leagues, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a Negro Leagues replica jersey.

The gospel group We Be Brethren will sing the national anthem.