Harding, Wilfred “Boomer”
1915 – 1991
SPORT | Baseball, Hockey, Soccer
YEAR OF INDUCTION | 2003
Boomer Harding was an extraordinarily talented, all round athlete who excelled at baseball, hockey, soccer, and softball. Unfortunately, being born in 1915, he participated at a time when Blacks were not readily accepted. He faced prejudice head on and won the respect and friendship of many of his team mates, opponents, and sports fans across Ontario. Many believe that, if the time had been right, Boomer could have competed at a major league level in either baseball or hockey. For 50 years he participated at a very high level in a wide variety of sports and left a legacy of courage, pride, determination, and sportsmanship.
Beginning in 1933 at age 17 and continuing for over 20 years, starred for teams in Chatham and Kingston who regularly competed for district and provincial championships – most notably were the 1934 Chatham Colored All Stars who were OBA Intermediate “B” Champions, the 1939 Colored All Stars who were OBA Intermediate “A” Championship finalists, the 1948 Chatham Hadley Lumber team who were OBA Intermediate “A” Champions, and the 1957 Blenheim Braves who were OBA Intermediate “C” Championship finalists.
Beginning in high school in 1931 and continuing for over 20 years, starred for teams in Chatham, London, and Kingston who competed for district and provincial championships – most notably were the 1934 – 1935 and 1935 – 1936 Chatham Vocational School who were two-time WOSSAA Champions, the 1943 – 1944 London Army team that won the OHA Intermediate “A” Championship, the 1945-46 Canadian Army Group “D” Red Wings that toured Scotland, the 1945 – 1946 Petrolia Oilers who were OHA Championship finalists, the 1946 – 1947 Windsor Staffords of the International Amateur Hockey League where he became the first Black player to play at the Detroit Olympia, and the early 1950s Chatham Golds who regularly competed for OHA Championships.
Beginning in 1933 and continuing for over 20 years, starred for teams representing Chatham at various levels of competition – most notably were the 1933 Chatham Vocational School who were WOSSAA Champions, the 1947 Br. 28 Legion who were Ontario Champions, and the 1949 Br. 28 Legion who were Ontario Championship finalists.
Highlights of Other Sports
Track & field – 1929 KSSAA Jr. Boys Champion, 1934 KSSAA Sr. Boys Champion, 1944 Army Championship of Canada competed in 100 yards, pole vault (second place), and 4×100 yard relay (first place) as team won overall championship
Softball – competed from 1930 to 1955
Basketball – 1944 played for Vimy Signals, District Champions
Bowling – 3 game total of 661 including 2 singles of 231 and 277
Darts – 1962 – 1988 competed for Br.28 Legion in Open and Legion competitions consistently placing in the top 3 in many singles, doubles, and team matches – in 1975 placed second in Canadian National Open Darts Tournament
In 1988 “Boomer” was awarded an Olympic Gold Achievement Medal in honour of his Fifty-five Years of Sports Achievements. This medal was given in celebration of the 1988 Calgary Olympics and only eighteen Canadians were so honoured.