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Worried parents force cancellation of Payton-Brooks baseball game

Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep  |  Sun-Times library

Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep | Sun-Times library

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Updated: May 30, 2013 3:06PM

A baseball game between two Chicago public high schools was canceled Saturday when some parents from a North Side school refused to let their children travel to the South Side for the game, saying they were worried about the safety of their kids.

The game between Payton College Prep and Brooks College Prep was supposed to start at 7 p.m. The Payton team had played a makeup game earlier Saturday against Von Steuben and was to head to Roseland on the city’s South Side to play Brooks.

Instead, according to Payton head coach William Wittleder, “About three, four parents [came] up to me saying they’re not letting their kids go down there.”

That prompted other parents to also refuse to let their sons play at Brooks, according to Wittleder, who said he was left with too few players to field a team. The game was declared a forfeit victory for Brooks.

Wittleder said one of the Payton parents told the others he grew up on the South Side and that the neighborhood around Brooks “isn’t what it used to be.”

“This is probably one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had,” said Wittleder, who has coached high school baseball for 10 seasons and is in his second year as Payton’s head coach. “It’s very heartbreaking. This is totally against what I believe in.”

Even without his players, Wittleder went to Brooks and apologized to Eagles coach Bryan Street for having to forfeit the game.

Brooks’ baseball fields are also used for youth teams playing in the Jackie Robinson West Little League.

Brooks athletic director Matt Barrett would not comment Saturday night, and Thomas Trotter, who oversees the city’s high school sports programs, could not be reached.

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