Players from Payton, Brooks to meet at breakfast Friday at CPS headquarters
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 12:10AM
Payton baseball coach William Wittleder during the Payton Academy vs. Lane Tech game at Seward Park in Chicago on Tuesday, April 30, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 2, 2013 3:05PM
A breakfast will be held Friday to promote fellowship among high school baseball players from two teams caught up in a controversy after a North Side coach said he was forced to cancel a game on the South Side because parents feared for their children’s safety.
Players from Payton College Prep and Brooks College Prep will meet to share the meal at Chicago Public Schools headquarters, 125 S. Clark, to “build fellowship between the teams so when they do play their game, it’s not so intense,” said a source close to the matter.
The teams are scheduled to play a makeup game May 11 at Brooks’ home field in the Roseland neighborhood on the far South Side.
The original game was canceled last Saturday night after several parents decided not to let their kids travel to the South Side neighborhood because they feared for their safety, Payton coach William Wittleder told the Chicago Sun-Times shortly after the last-minute cancellation.
Payton Principal Timothy Devine disputed Wittleder’s explanation and said the game actually was canceled because bus transportation had not been arranged and several players had been benched for missing practice.
“The situation has slighted parents at Brooks and made Payton parents feel they are unfairly being labeled as racist,” the source said.
Wittleder, who had been ordered to stay away from the team after intense media coverage of the situation, returned to coach his squad against Lane Tech on Tuesday night. A three-hour meeting with parents, players and Principal Devine was held after Tuesday’s game to discuss Wittleder’s future with the team. Attendees and a CPS spokesman declined to comment, but it’s clear a rift exists between parents who support Wittleder and those who want him out.
Wittleder, who teaches physical education at Wells High School, is expected to coach Payton at the May 11 makeup game.