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Brooks, Payton Baseball Game to be Played Saturday

By  Mark Konkol and Erica Demarest | April 29, 2013 10:56am | Updated on April 30, 2013 11:48am

ROSELAND — The Payton College Prep baseball team will travel to Brooks College Prep on the South Side Saturday to play a game that was canceled last weekend in part due to safety concerns of parents at the North Side school.

Chicago Public Schools Spokesman Becky Carroll confirmed the game was rescheduled after schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett met with Payton's coach Monday evening to discuss the controversy, which led to charges of racism. The two discussed the situation and talked about bringing the two school communities together.

The announcement came Monday evening as Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a baseball game at Brooks, located the city's Roseland neighborhood. He sat in the stands and applauded as Brooks scored in the third inning, tying the game with Morgan Park High School 1-1.

He also met with students and joked with Brooks senior Joshua Smith, 18, one of about 30 people in the Brooks stands.

"I wanted to come out here and show support," Emanuel said.

He also went over to the Morgan Park stands and shook hands with the fans there.

Sources Monday confirmed a Sun-Times account that safety concerns led some parents from Walter Payton College Prep, 1034 N. Wells St., didn't want to send their kids to an away game at Brooks last Saturday night, so the game was forfeited.

CPS officials said that game also was forfeited because Payton students didn’t have bus transportation to Brooks, meaning parents had to drive students to the game. Also, several Payton players had been suspended from the team after they missed practice due to Advanced Placement testing and college visits.

Administration from both schools said Monday they hoped to set aside hard feelings and focus on student athletics.

Brooks Principal D’Andre Weaver issued a letter to students and teachers urging restraint in how they discussed the events.

“It’s important to me that our response as a school community not be divisive in word or deed,” Weaver said in his note.

"I want to strongly encourage all members of our community to resist the temptation to engage in futile discourse around topics that continue to perpetuate racial and economic segregation in Chicago,” Weaver said.

Weaver declined to comment Monday, but said in his statement he was working with the Payton administration to sort out the issue. Before joining Brooks, Weaver served as assistant principal at Payton.

Brooks baseball coach Bryan Street told the Sun-Times Sunday he didn’t ever want to play Payton again because the school “didn’t give us a chance.”

The fenced-in Brooks campus features new facilities, a pond, and several playing fields with covered bleachers and lights for night games. Guards in bright yellow vests stand watch near the front entrance during school hours.

The school's $1.3 million ballfield boasts manicured infield grass, a lighted scoreboard, concession stands, bleachers and lights that meet Triple A professional baseball standards. The school is the former home of the Chicago Archdiocese's Mendel Catholic High School, which closed in 1988.

In December, Chicago police issued a community alert for Roseland after several armed gang members robbed Brooks students outside the school.

A source at Brooks called the robberies “isolated,” claiming there haven’t been any issues since late last year. There have never been safety concerns during sporting events, the source said.