Nottawa-based author Doug Fox has released his first book about a sport that is near and dear to his heart.
On Account of Darkness: The Summer Ontario Baseball Broke the Colour Barrier is a historical fiction which follows the story of the 1934 Ontario amateur baseball season when the Chatham Coloured All-Stars were accepted to play for the first time in the Ontario Baseball Association Intermediate B provincial playoffs, breaking the colour barrier over a decade before Major League Baseball did.
The title of the book draws its name from the controversial third game of the best-of-three series against Penetaguishene, led by pitcher Phil Marchildon, who would go on to star for the American league’s Philadelphia Athletics.
The story is told through two narrators: the two real-life newspaper reporters who covered the teams for their respective towns. The book is an account of one team’s battle to overcome racism under the backdrop of the Great Depression.
When asked why it was important for him to tell this story, Fox says it was a combination of personal and historical reasons.
“It’s an Ontario baseball story, and I’m very much a grassroots baseball fan. I think it’s important in terms of diversity to be telling this story about the Chatham team,” said Fox.
“Growing up in Midland, when I would play hockey in Penetanguishene there was this big black-and-white photo of an old ball player,” he said. “The photo is still in the Penetanguishene arena today. That player was [Phil] Marchildon. And for a youngster growing up, knowing that someone from Penetanguishene went to the major leagues was unbelievable. It still is for me.”
Marchildon played for the Philidelphia Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics) and the Boston Red Sox.
Fox was an elementary school teacher for 30 years before semi-retiring. He says he’s been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays farm system for the past 10 years and has gained an online following for his writing on the subject.
On Account of Darkness marks Fox’s first foray into book writing.
“Baseball literature has been in my blood since I was very young. I was one of those rare kids growing up in Ontario where hockey was something to do between baseball seasons,” said Fox.
Fox will be speaking about On Account of Darkness at the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum on Aug. 31, and he will have a table at the Collingwood Public Library during their Literacy Day Author Event on Sept. 8.
Copies of the book will be available at both events, and can also be purchased through Amazon.ca here, or in ebook format through Kobo, Kindle and Apple Books.