Chris Singleton’s dream of playing major league baseball got a major step closer to becoming reality almost two years to the day after his mother was gunned down in a racially motivated shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The World Series champion Chicago Cubs nabbed Singleton in the 19th round of the draft Wednesday. The Charleston Southern University junior center fielder started all 51 games this year, the school says, and was among national leaders with 10 assists. He also stole an impressive 18 bases.
Saturday marks two years since Dylann Roof, a self-declared white supremacist, killed Singleton’s mother, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and eight other people inside Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Coleman-Singleton was a speech therapist and high school track coach. At the time, Chris Singleton described his mother as “a God-fearing woman (who) loved everybody with all her heart.” If everyone loved the way she did, he said, hate wouldn’t have a chance.
Singleton celebrated the draft on social media with #CantLetMomsDown.
Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ senior vice president of scouting and player development, said Singleton’s talent is what got him drafted.
“We certainly understand and have deep sympathy for his backstory, but what I want to make sure doesn’t get lost is that this guy’s a really good baseball player,” McLeod said.
“We had him evaluated really as a top-10-round-caliber talent,” he said.
“He’s a very mature young man. His faith and religion are priorities in his life. We’re really looking forward to getting (Singleton) into the organization.”
In January, Roof was sentenced to death after being convicted of federal murder and hate crimes in the Charleston massacre. He pleaded guilty to state charges in April, clearing the way for his federal imprisonment on death row to begin.
Singleton has the options of signing with the Cubs and being assigned to a minor league team or returning to Charleston Southern for his final season.
SOURCE: Kelly McCleary
Two years ago, Chris Singleton stood on the field at CSU Ballpark and said words that comforted a community and moved many across the nation.
“I just say, love is always stronger than hate,” Singleton said on June 18, 2015, one night after his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was among nine innocent church-goers killed at Emanuel AME in Charleston. “If we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be nearly as strong as the love is.”
On Wednesday, three days shy of the second anniversary of his mother’s death, Singleton stood again at CSU Ballpark and pondered a future that now includes professional baseball.
“It’s a lot of God and a little bit of me right now,” said Singleton, a junior outfielder for Charleston Southern who was picked in the 19th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the world champion Chicago Cubs. “It’s timing itself up perfectly in my eyes, so it’s really a blessing.”
Singleton, the final pick of the 19th round and the No. 585 pick overall, was cleaning pools Wednesday when he learned of the Cubs’ pick. After his father died in February, Singleton became the man of a family that includes two younger siblings, Camryn and Caleb.
He and a friend started a pool-cleaning business, Moore Clean Pools, to help support the family.
“I’ve got this pool-cleaning business, and I was doing one of the pools when my phone rang,” Singleton said. “My heart dropped a little bit. I answered the phone and it’s been surreal ever since.”
Singleton’s selection thrilled his coaches at CSU, Stuart Lake and Adam Ward.
“It felt like one of my own kids was drafted,” said Lake, who left CSU to become an assistant coach at South Carolina just before the 2017 season. “I’m so proud and happy for Chris. He and I have gone through so much together. We talked today and he thanked me for giving him a chance. But I’ve got a whole lot more to thank him for. He’ll always be a part of me and my family just as a person.”
SOURCE: Jeff Hartsell
The Post & Courier