Chatham Sports Hall Of Famer Mel Wakabayashi passes away

Mel Wakabayashi
Mel Wakabayashi

The Chatham Sports Hall Of Fame and the Chatham Maroons are sharing their condolences on the passing of Mel Wakabayashi.

Mel was born in Slocan City, British Columbia in 1943 but his family was moved eastward shortly after that, as were thousands of Japanese-Canadian families. After staying in Northern Ontario for three years, the Wakabayashis arrived in Chatham in 1950.

Growing up in Chatham, Mel was an all-around athlete and became involved in several sports, particularly minor hockey and minor baseball. He went on to excel at both sports at the local level with the Chatham Junior Maroons and Ontario Baseball Association championship teams.

“It was a privilege to play with him and witness his All-American & Michigan Hockey HOF magic,” said Phil Gross, a former Chatham Jr. Maroon and fellow U of Michigan Varsity Hockey player. “Mel was so talented & so humble.”

Mel continued his excellent play at college and at the international level while playing hockey for 12 years in Japan. He went on to coach the Japanese National Hockey Team at several international events including one Winter Olympics.

He was inducted into the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 2006.

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