Jackie Robinson West (JRW) is Chicago’s Team. They are Chicago Proud.
Even though they lost the Little League World Series to South Korea, they went down in a blaze of glory. The scored three runs in the last inning, losing 8-4.
They are still the United States Champion team. That, in and of itself, is an accomplishment.
What are the odds that out of 7000 teams in the country, this south side team would make it all the way to the Little League World Series?
What kind of spirit, grit, determination, and perseverance did it take? How many sacrifices did the parents make so their sons could go all the way? What kind of coaches and managers did this team have?
There is a lot of praise to go around for this team.
JRW are winners in a city that needs champions. They are role models in an area that needs role models.
In a season of drab baseball a group of young kids electrified the game.
These young men grabbed the hearts of Chicago when they won the Great Lakes championship. They played and won against another team with a young woman, Mo’ne Davis, who became such a national sensation she made the cover of Sports Illustrated..
Then JRW bucked all the odds and won the United States Championship.
All of Chicago was rooting for this team of 11 to 13 year old boys. Kids from the south side. Kids whose parents, through unmitigated love, made sacrifices. Kids who are learning life lessons through sports. Kids who showed Chicago values, hard work, determination, perseverance, and focus.
The watch party in the Loop showed how much Chicago loves this team. People of all races, ethnicities, and ages watched and cheered. They were glued to the jumbotron watching each play intensely.
For one day the whole city focused its love on a group of young kids. For one day were had just one thing in common, Jackie Robinson West. For one day Chicago put aside all its differences and came together as one to support these young men.
When it was finally over the crowd cheered. There was no hush. There were no tears or groans of disappointment. There was only the loud noise of love. Chicago love.
These kids may have lost a game, but they are winners.This team captured the hearts of the whole city like no other. They are champions. They are Chicago’s team this year.
Mayor Emanuel enthusiastically supported Jackie Robinson West by having the watch parties and showing up to them. Others, like the Chicago White Sox and people who made various donations gave support to the team and the city. They should be recognized.
On Wednesday there will be an event to welcome our champions home. Time and place will be announced. As many of us as possible should make it. Those kids deserve a real Chicago welcome.
State street was crowded from curb to curb and from Lake to Randolph Streets during the game. After the game and all the cheering was over people left quietly and quickly. Within a few minutes State Street was empty and quiet save for the normal noise of the city.
Kudos to the Chicago Police and Andy Frain Security for their professionalism in keeping order and an emergency route open.
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