Jackie Robinson West, Chicago Little League Team extraordinaire – 2014 USA Champions! The heavens parted and the sympathetic sports gods smiled down on the city of Chicago with this brilliant ray of sunshine. A city plagued by two disappointing Major League Baseball teams have been blessed with an amazing team of young and accomplished All Stars. Cheers for Jackie Robinson West!
This team has captured the hearts of all and here are some of the reasons why I love them:
1) Their innocence: their involvement was not about money or contracts – just about their love of the game. You could see it in their eyes – their laughter, giggles actually – in the dugout…eating candy, acting camera shy, poking each other, then funny faces, then…”Hi Mom!” Just having kid fun.
2) I loved the little anecdotes that were given on screen about the players throughout the games…”This is—name—and his favorite book is "The Outlanders" This is –name—and he would like to be a doctor…and this is –name—and he likes to brush his hair before each game and talk to girls for good luck. Adorable. Just tugs at your heart.
3) I loved the televised audibles of the coaches revealing their words of confidence and encouragement devoid of scowling and expletives. Refreshing.
4) I loved that other athletes and organizations kicked in so generously for the cause, donating money so that parents could travel to cheer for their kids.
5) I loved the players announcing their name along with…”And my favorite player is –name—.” Know this – all of the “favorite players” mentioned – you and all major league players are role models. So act like role models and never do anything to tarnish your image to the young players that idolize you.
6) I loved the fact that these young boys have played in a series that included a star pitcher that just happens to be a girl – and that they totally respect and admire her for her skills.
7) I loved the sportsmanship that these kids demonstrated after a game – not only high-fiving their opponents as expected, but frequently reaching out to them with genuine hugs in the excitement of the moment.
8) I love all the news media that have picked up on this Chicago success story and expanded it as such.
9) I loved the “Players and Parents Pledge” recited before the games - so profound.
10) I love the pride that this team has brought to this city, and that we are having a parade to celebrate their victory.
Oh yeah…what makes me cringe you might ask? OK – having had a son who played Little League baseball for many years (he was a pitcher, and a really good one, by the way)…I remember it well. Every strike that he threw brought a rousing cheer, and every player that he walked would make your stomach churn. So, that was that gamut of emotions that all of these parents know so well as I did.
So, as I watched these kids play their hearts out running and sliding into those bases… a familiar deja-vu overcame me. As I looked at these kids – in addition to feeling the joy of the game, I couldn't help flashing back to the days of slaving over a sink trying to get the grime and horrific grass stains out of those white uniform pants.
Now, I am guessing and hoping that a championship team such as JRW might have some kind of a laundry service that handles this – but, back in the day, it was a mom’s sole plight. Soaking and scrubbing after each game with Borax soap and other shared stain removing secrets among the womenfolk.
And, you certainly wouldn't want your kid to show up with leftover stains from last week’s game. Embarrassing.
So, I couldn't help but remember that yukky chore as my eyeballs focused on our champion players’ green and brown stained white uniform pants. Yes, it made me cringe.
However, I’ll tell you what…after seeing Jackie Robinson West make their city so proud, I will gladly volunteer with Borax soap in hand for the team’s laundry duty. It would be an honor.
Thank you JRW - we love you!
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