Bravo, and thank you to the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team. Thanks for giving the South Side of Chicago the boost it has sorely been needing.
Thank you for being great young men who are role models for other young males, particularly Black ones. Your sportsmanship and athleticism make you all admirable, every one of you. You were focused, graceful and poised as you played ball. Jackie Robinson himself would be proud of you.
I loved reading their individual tags on the TV screen. Some of the young lads said their role models were their mothers and fathers. The team represents old school parenting, the way Black parents used to raise their kids in the past, no matter how much money they did or didn’t have.
And it’s important to note that the boys on the team represent the majority of the young Black men on the South and West Sides – from the constant news coverage, you’d think that all Black boys in Chicago are gang bangers, which they are not.
The boys of Jackie Robinson West shed a new light on our communities of Roseland, Englewood, Chatham, and Auburn Gresham, which are usually the subjects of news reports on the nightly teen murders.
The team represents a model for how parents focus their children on sports, a skill, and develop it along the way. The Jackie Robinson team has long been the pride of Morgan Park and now they are the pride of all of Chicago and the entire country. They made the world sit down and watch.
I viewed three games with intensity and I don’t watch even watch sports. The Jackie Robinson team showed the art and the skill set of playing ball that can be acquired at an early age. They showed us how to win. They showed us what champions look like.
They showed us what real Black men are all about in a three generational scope, from grandfathers to grandsons. The grandfathers were in the stands wearing Number 42, Jackie Robinson’s number. The black number 42 shirt connected the dots from yesteryear of couldn’t to today of “Yes I can,” from the pioneer of yesteryear to the champ of today. The name Jackie Robinson still makes history and breaks barriers: this is the first time an African-American Little League team became number one.
The politicians came to sit and watch the game with the community. It makes me think how stupid we’ve been to take sports out of the schools, and how smart your parents and the community were to keep you playing, damn the schools.
I have heard former Senator Emil Jones talk about this team for years; they reside in his district. I have seen his dedication. I have a friend, Ziff, who is also dedicated and always talks about his team and his boys. The coach, Darold Butler, is the man. He taught you the skill, took you to the field, and showed the world how you play. You all worked it.
Bravo, young men. You have made a city proud, a community proud, a people proud, simply because you played ball at an extremely high level and represented well.
And even as they lost the very last game, they showed grace. They lost the final game, but indeed, they are the world champions. They come home as heroes and have changed the life game. You gave our city just what it needed. Bravo.
Their spirit has lifted us high. And we rise.