The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Crowds in hometown cheer on Jackie Robinson West, say team inspires hope, Chicago pride

  • Print

CHICAGO - A baseball team from Chicago's South Side that has been battling its way through the Little League World Series is giving the city something to cheer about.

Hundreds of people who packed a watch party Saturday afternoon at a far South Side community centre unleashed deafening roars, danced to blasting music and exchanged hugs as the Jackie Robinson West All Stars defeated a Las Vegas team in the U.S. final in Pennsylvania. With the 7-5 victory, the 11- and 12-year-olds from Jackie Robinson West will face South Korea in the championship game Sunday.

The Chicago team, made up of all black players, is making its first appearance in 31 years in the Little League World Series. But there's more than baseball at stake for some in a part of Chicago that has grappled with poverty, gang violence and the negative media attention those problems have drawn.

"It means a whole lot to the community and the kids. With all this violence going on, it gives them hope," said Sabrina Johnson, who was with her 8-year-old grandson, a baseball player in a church league.

Jeanette Baggett, 76, got out of her wheelchair when the team won. Later, she wiped tears from her eyes.

"It's a dream come true," she said.

Retired city worker Mario Stinson said the team was a unifying force, noting that the players come from multiple neighbourhoods divided by gang violence.

"They're from Englewood, Roseland, all over the place, and they can get together and bring a million people out to watch them," he said, adding that hopefully some gang members were taking note, too.

"These guys can't go two blocks without shooting somebody. They can learn from these kids," Stinson said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has lauded the team as the "pride of Chicago," was there Saturday, posing for pictures with children.

No matter the final result of the series, the city will celebrate. A parade is planned to welcome the team home on Wednesday.

"The excitement surrounding these remarkable young people has been palpable in every neighbourhood of Chicago, and their spirit, positive attitude and success on the field illustrate why they are the pride of the city," Emanuel said in a statement Friday announcing the parade plan.

The team hails from communities on the South and Southwest Sides of Chicago including Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Chatham, Morgan Park and Washington Heights.

Jackie Robinson, for whom the team is named, became the first black player in Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, breaking through a barrier that segregated the sport for more than 50 years.

"Whether they know it or not, the youngsters on the Jackie Robinson West team are walking in the footsteps of their famous namesake," Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell wrote last week, cheering in print the "mothers, fathers, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers who were willing to haul them to practices and games."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Wasylycia-Leis wants to create aboriginal accord

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 060710 The full moon rises above the prairie south of Winnipeg Monday evening.
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Ray Rice should be given a lifetime ban from the NFL?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google