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Brooks, Payton teams play ball 2 weeks after canceled game

Umpires Chuck Matthews (L) Andre Golstwith Brooks coach Bryan Street Paytcoach Will Wittleder before Saturday night's game Brooks Roseland. |

Umpires Chuck Matthews (L) and Andre Golston with Brooks coach Bryan Street and and Payton coach Will Wittleder before Saturday night's game at Brooks in Roseland. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 13, 2013 7:25PM

This time, they played.

Two weeks after a high school baseball game on the South Side was canceled amid controversy, Payton College Prep showed up in Roseland and played host Brooks College Prep in a non-conference game that went off without a hitch.

“Just that the game is being played is important, win or lose,” Brooks coach Bryan Street said as his players warmed up before the night game began.

The game originally was to be played April 27 at Brooks but was canceled because of some parents’ safety concerns, according to Payton coach William Wittleder, who said then, “About three, four parents [came] up to me, saying they’re not letting their kids go down there” for a night game. Wittleder said having to cancel the game was “one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had.”

And Brooks coach Street vowed never to play the North Side school again.

Facing an unwanted controversy and unhappy parents, Payton’s principal, Timothy Devine, said it wasn’t safety concerns that caused the cancellation but “poor communication” on his coach’s part and failing to arrange for a bus for what would be his team’s second game in the same day.

Players from both teams were called in to Chicago Public Schools headquarters downtown to have breakfast together, and the game was rescheduled.

“We’re ready to play ball,” Wittleder said Saturday. “We’re focused on what’s important now — playing ball.”

Before the two teams played, the two coaches hugged, and the players greeted each other.

A Payton parent dismissed the controversy, saying, “It was just a mess-up between parents and coaches.”

“The kids have been anxious to play. It’s a tune-up for playoffs,” said the parent, Michael Veitch, 66, of the Near North Side.

Among those in the stands on the chilly May night were Brooks’ Principal D’Andre Weaver and Devine, who said, “We’re here for a great game of baseball with our great friends from Brooks.”

“We’ve been talking about this game for weeks,” said Alberto Reyes, 16, of Hegewisch, Brooks’ first baseman.

“We’re just here to play baseball,” said Bison Carcelli, 15, of Lincoln Park, who plays second base for Payton, which won 11-2.

Carol Jackson, 48, whose son plays for Brooks, said the cancellation was “unfortunate” and added: “Hopefully they’re able to come together, and hopefully we can move forward. Chicago is one big melting pot of people.”

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