When Gastonia Mayor John Bridgeman learned of the incident from the author of a children’s book on the incident, Richard Andersen, a professor at Springfield College, he wrote Springfield’s mayor, Domenic Sarno, a poignant letter of apology. That unsolicited, heartfelt expression of regret led to an exchange of communications, invitations, and the cultivation of new friendships.
Last June, Gastonia's Post 23 team went to Springfield for a weekend of baseball. That goodwill gesture was well received, and led to a decision that Springfield teams should visit Gastonia a year later.
On June 24-26 Springfield’s Post 21 and Post 420 teams will visit Gastonia to continue a relationship between the two cities, and demonstrate the power of tolerance and goodwill.
“It’s not only an opportunity for renewal on the baseball field, it’s an opportunity for a teaching moment regarding civil rights.” Gastonia city officials wholeheartedly agree.
A reception and luncheon will take place Friday at noon at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia.
A doubleheader will be played Friday night at Belmont Abbey's home field, matching the Post 21 Eagles against the Gaston Braves at 5:30, and Post 420 against the Braves at 8.
On Saturday at Sims Field, the Post 21 Eagles will play Cherryville Post 100 at 11 a.m., and Post 420 will go against Cherryville at 1:30 p.m.
The Sunday schedule at Sims Field has Gastonia Post 23 playing Post 420 at 11 a.m., and the 21 Eagles at 2:30 p.m.
Between games, a ceremony will take place, marking the historical significance of the visit by Springfield teams.
"We're very excited about the Springfield teams coming to see us." said Chuck Dellinger, Gastonia's Director of Parks and Recreation. "We look forward to a great weekend of fellowship, baseball and North Carolina blue skies."