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Chicago Little League Team Best in U.S.

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Chicago Little League Team Best in U.S.

Jackie Robinson West posing after their victory at the United States Little League Championship.

Jackie Robinson West posing after their victory at the United States Little League Championship.

Courtesy of Christopher Dilts

Jackie Robinson West posing after their victory at the United States Little League Championship.

Courtesy of Christopher Dilts

Courtesy of Christopher Dilts

Jackie Robinson West posing after their victory at the United States Little League Championship.

Josh McQuade, Business Manager

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On Sunday, Aug. 24, Jackie Robinson West was recognized as the best Little League Baseball team in the nation, but second in the world.

The all African-American team stomped their way through the United States Bracket, from Pierce Jones’ three home runs in Game One against Washington, to the back-and-forth battle in Game Six against Nevada. However, the Little League baseball team was unable to prevail over South Korea in the championship of the Little League World Series.

The Jackie Robinson West League was founded in 1971 by Joseph Haley. The League is a part of the Urban Initiative League, an organization that helps kids in urban areas play baseball.

The league’s mission statement speaks of its dedication to the well-being of the children, saying, “The mission of Jackie Robinson West, a chartered member of Little League Inc.,  is to bring children into a structured program environment intensely supported by adult volunteers where the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline are strongly emphasized.”

When the all-stars returned home, they were welcomed back on Aug. 27 with a citywide celebration, which began with a parade maneuvering through about 100 blocks of Chicago. The parade was moderated by White Sox broadcaster, Hawk Harrelson, featuring speeches from Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president, and Kenny Williams, the White Sox executive vice president.

“I never thought I’d get introduced by Hawk,” Epstein said after Harrelson’s introductions.

The team arrived at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion only to find 10,000 avid fans celebrating the player’s accomplishments. The turnout left the team speechless, but pitcher Marquis Jackson later found words when asked why his team had become such a phenomenon after winning the United States Little League Championship.

“I think [it is] because we’re African-American boys from the South Side,” Jackson said.

“The South Side is not just about bad things,” he said, “something big can come from the South Side of Chicago. Period.”

Chicago would agree with Jackson, as Jackie Robinson West stunned the nation by even making it to the United States Championship.

After ending the celebration rally, Jackie Robinson West went back to their normal baseball playing lives, or so they thought. The team paid a visit to the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 1 to watch them take on the Brewers. Before the game; however, the Cubs players were wearing Jackie Robinson West themed warm-up jerseys. The Cubs then auctioned off the jerseys in order to raise money for Jackie Robinson West.

Dick’s Sporting Goods; however, surpassed the Cubs by donating the net proceeds from the sales of Jackie Robinson West T-shirts throughout the summer to the Jackie Robinson West League. Dick’s representatives wrote a check made out for $164,481.17, making that the largest single donation made to the league. Thanks to this donation, the league can now afford the construction of “first-class” facilities and fields for the athletes.

With Dick’s large check in hand, the team would not have to worry about paying for their trip to Disney World; however, United Airlines and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition sponsored the trip for free instead. The team and their families left for Disney on September 5, but not before having a send-off party at O’Hare Airport.

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