Little League champs Jackie Robinson West, a week later: Their legacy

Here it is a week already since the parade and rally at Millennium Park honoring our surprise August heroes, the kids from Jackie Robinson West. They are back to school, we are adjusting to the shock that summer is over already. It seems like a good time to consider what we can take from the ride they took us on just when we needed it.

They reminded us of several things that are worth remembering:

That kids’ baseball has lessons to teach about skill-building, determination, hard work, and success.

That even though we say that we know it takes a village to raise a child, we haven’t been hearing enough about the many villages that exist across the city, like the ones that support these boys and their families.

That grandmothers are a powerful force who inspire, challenge, comfort and support young people.

That character is best taught by example.

That if you give them a reason, news people can report positive stories, and practically glow while they are doing it. Local stations deployed just about everyone who ever appears on camera to televise the rally day from various points along the route. Several told their own stories of baseball, neighborhoods that work, strong families.

That you can keep the politicians and publicity-seekers out of the spotlight on special occasions, like the rally. Kudos to the planners for keeping the focus on the kids.

That if anything can bring people together, it is kids, who activate the inner parent in all of us. Who else could get 810,000 Chicagoans to watch the same baseball game on TV?  We all want them to win, to get through the next years intact, and to succeed in life as they have on the field. For a couple of weeks, we were all rowing in the same direction, and it felt good.

After all the acclaim, one more reward: we all a little jealous, yet glad, that each of those kids reportedly gets to have dinner with Ernie Banks. Add thanks from the rest of us.


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