By Brad Edwards

(CBS) – Mayor Emanuel on Monday stepped into the center of a Chicago controversy: a baseball game that was never played.

Payton Prep never showed up for Saturday’s game against Brooks College Prep on the South Side. Was the reason a concern about safety or just a transportation mixup, as one school official suggested?

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.

Whatever the truth, it was a strike against relations. Naty Cabrales stood there Saturday watching her second base-playing son when the other team didn’t come.

“At first I couldn’t believe it,” she said, choking up. “What are they afraid of? Have they ever been to the South Side?”

The South Side’s Brooks team was stood up by the North Side’s Payton College Prep.

The perceived snub prompted Mayor Emanuel to go to Brooks Monday.

“I wanted to just make a general statement – these are good kids,” Emanuel told CBS 2. “It’s not only a good baseball team; this is now the 13th best high school in the entire state.”

“Sixty percent of the kids are in AP classes. These are very good kids and I want everyone in the city to know it,” he added.

Payton’s varsity coach was a noted absence as his team played Monday. His team’s last-minute back out on Saturday started it.  One Payton parent told Edwards the game was rightly canceled for safety concerns, but also because the kids were tired from a previous game.

To the south, Ward 9 Ald. Anthony Beale is a coach at Brooks. He welcomes a rematch.

“Get them to come out here and understand what they missed,” he said. “This is the best high school facility in the state of Illinois.”

The missing Payton coach was meeting with Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett during the game. They discussed what happened, and the game is rescheduled for this Saturday, to be played on the South Side at Brooks College Prep.

The Payton coach was quoted as saying parents came to him upset that their children would have to play a night game at Brooks, which is in the Roseland neighborhood. At least one parent, who talked with Newsradio WBBM, backs that account, that parents were afraid of violence on the South Side.

A teacher, however, said the coach failed to order a bus, which could have left Payton students stranded.

Brad Edwards