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Stolen dreams: the 1955 Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars

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Courtesy of Ramon Jackson and Little League Baseball.
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The Cannon Street All-Stars watch from the stands at the 1955 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

When the 11- and 12-year-olds on the Cannon Street YMCA all-star team registered for a baseball tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, in July 1955, it put the team and the forces of integration on a collision. White teams refused to take the field with the Cannon Street all-stars, the first Black Little League team in South Carolina.

The Cannon Street team won two tournaments by forfeit. If they won the regional tournament in Rome, Georgia, they would have advanced to the Little League World Series. But Little League officials ruled the team ineligible to play in the tournament because they had advanced by winning on forfeit and not on the field, denying the boys their dream. This became a national story for a few weeks but then faded and disappeared altogether as Americans read of other civil rights stories, including the horrific killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Chris Lamb, author of The 1955 Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars and Little League Baseball’s Civil War (2022, University of Nebraska Press), and John Rivers, who played shortstop on the All-Stars, join Walter Edgar to tell the story of the Cannon Street all-stars.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.