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Walter Payton Prep Says Racism Not A Factor In Baseball Team's Weekend Forfeit

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 29, 2013 8:40PM

2013_4_29_payton_small.jpg Officials at Walter Payton College Prep claim racism wasn’t a factor after their baseball team forfeited a game against Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep over the weekend. The team from Payton (on the Near North Side) had to forfeit the game after parents of some players refused to let their children play the game at Brooks’ Pullman/Roseland campus.

According to Payton baseball coach William Wittleder, “About three, four parents [came] up to me saying they’re not letting their kids go down there.” More parents followed suit and Wittleder soon didn’t have enough players to field a team. Wittleder called Brooks baseball coach Bryan Street to forfeit and apologize.

Street vows his team will never play Payton Prep again. Payton coach Wittleder said, “This is probably one of the most embarrassing moments I’ve had,” adding "This is totally against what I believe in.”

Payton principal Tim Devine and CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn made the media rounds and claimed other factors led to the forfeit.

Quinn said a lack of communication by Payton's coach played a part. The Payton baseball team wasn’t made aware of the game until Wednesday and had already played a game against Von Steuben Saturday morning. She also said scheduled Advanced Placement tests, players who were benched for missing AP tests and college visits and a lack of bus transportation to Brooks were contributing factors.

Payton Principal Devine sent a letter to parents criticizing Sun-Times’ and NBC Chicago’s reports on the story. The statement, released jointly with Brooks principal D'Andre Weaver, called the situation a “misunderstanding” and that everyone involved should "move past this and allow our student athletes to focus on their futures."

But Wittleder is sticking to his story and has demanded an apology from the parents who held out their children from traveling to Brooks. Street, Brooks’ baseball coach, said he would never accept a game from Payton again.