The Obit For Don Tabron

Colored All-Stars lose final surviving player

Posted By MARK MALONE, The Chatham Daily News, 1/2/2009

One of the most storied teams in Chatham sports history has lost its final surviving player.

Don Tabron of the 1934 Chatham Colored All-Stars died Dec. 19 in Detroit at age 93.

Tabron was a shortstop and pitcher for the Colored All-Stars, the first Chatham team to win an Ontario Baseball Association championship and the first all-black team to enter the OBA playdowns.

The team was inducted into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

The Toronto Blue Jays saluted the Chatham Colored All-Stars by wearing their replica uniforms for a game July 13, 2002.

"I never anticipated anything like this," Tabron said at the time. "At no time in my life did I think something like this might happen."

The last two surviving players -- Tabron and Sagasta Harding -- received a pre-game tribute at the SkyDome and threw out the ceremonial first pitches. Harding died in December 2002.

Horace Chase, a son of former All-Stars player Earl (Flat) Chase, spoke annually with Tabron for the past few years.

"He was a nice man," Horace Chase said. "Very easy to talk to. Very social, jovial."

Tabron was recruited from Detroit to play for the Colored All-Stars as an 18-year-old. He lived with teammate Wilfred (Boomer) Harding and his wife.

"I remember them talking favour-ably about him," said their son, Blake Harding. "He stayed with them for about a year, a year-and-a-half."

Tabron's baseball skills saved him from paying rent to the Hardings.

"They wanted him to play ball," Blake Harding said. "I guess that was worth the rent. He was quite a player."

Tabron later played against legendary pitcher Satchel Paige and visited segregated states in the southern U. S. with the Detroit Stars.

He threw out the first pitch at Comerica Park before a Detroit Tigers game in 2003.

Even if the major leagues had been desegregated in the 1930s, Tabron wasn't sure if he could have made a team.

"I thought I might have made the No. 1 minor (league)," he said in 2002. "I thought my hitting as a shortstop would have kept me out of the majors. I was not a great hitter."

Tabron returned to Detroit in 1935 and became an electrician. In 1944, he opened the Tabron Electric Co., a family business that ran for more than 50 years.

He suffered in recent years from dementia, prostate cancer and congestive heart failure.

He is survived by his wife Velma, sons Donald Jr. and Gerald and daughter Jo Ellen.