ROSELAND — No drama. Just baseball.
That's what parents, coaches and students said Saturday night when Walter Payton College Prep's baseball team traveled to the Far South Side to take on Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep.
The game came two weeks after the teams were originally scheduled to meet in a non-conference matchup, but Payton's coaches called off the game reportedly citing safety concerns from parents at the North Side school.
That call sparked controversy that sent the schools and CPS scrambling to make amends, and at Saturday's game, both teams said they were prepared to move forward.
Anthony Beale, 9th ward alderman and assistant coach for Brooks, said his kids were just ready to play some ball.
"There was never any animosity between the kids, the coaches," Beale said. "Unfortunately, I think we just had some parents who got too involved with the kids' business."
Some Payton parents were hesitant to talk about the "safety issue" at Saturday's game. Other parents complimented the facilities at Brooks.
"It's a great field, beautiful field," said John Dyer, whose son plays first base for Payton.
Anthony Lowenthal, whose son plays third base for Payton, agreed, adding it was nicer than Payton's field.
"Have you seen our field?" Lowenthal asked, chuckling. "Terrible, terrible."
The bleachers were nearly full as Payton won the ballgame 11-2. Security was heavy, with police and CPS security officers on-hand during the game.
Portia Farris, who worked at Brooks and coached girl's softball up until this school year, said the crowd was bigger than usual.
"Good turnout. Not so much over there," Farris said, pointing to the Payton side. "But a good turnout over here."
And many fans who turned out for Brooks said it was their first time coming to a game. Desiree Robinson said she came with her daughter, a student, to show their support for the team.
She said she still did not understand some Payton parents' concerns, noting Brooks' campus is fenced in.
"This is a nice, big, pretty campus," Robinson said. "Why should you be scared to come on this campus?"
Leonard Thomas, a coach at Simeon Career Academy, said with all the "commotion" going on, he also stopped by just to show his support, but Thomas dismissed the controversy as a misunderstanding.
"It should be water under the bridge," he said. "It was some 'he-said, she-said stuff,' and let's put it behind us and move forward."
After the game ended, players lined up to shake hands. At the same time, Brooks principal D'Andre Weaver shook hands and laughed with Payton parents and teachers in the crowd. He said he was glad the kids were playing, even if he would have liked it to be a little warmer.
"It's a great game. It's just cold outside," Weaver said, smiling. "I'm proud of my kids for playing."