Championship parades traveling through downtown Chicago are usually reserved only for the city’s professional teams, but after the young stars from the Jackie Robinson West little league won the US Championship game at the Little League World Series, they will now join the Blackhawks, Bulls & Sox as teams who’ve held championship rallies at Millennium Park.
Since its 1947 inaugural season, dozens(now hundreds) of fans pack the stands and outfield grass, as 16 little league baseball teams from all over the world travel to Williamsport to compete for their shot at being crowned the best Little League team in world. In its long 67 year career, Jackie Robinson West has only ever made it to the Little League World Series tournament twice, last in 1983. They would capture the hearts of Chicagoans with their exciting play and humility. Being only the second urban initiative team to compete for the LLWS title, JRW would go 6-0 during the regional rounds to earn the right to represent the Great Lakes region in Williamsport, PA. In their first game, JRW opened the tourney with a 12-2 mercy rule win over Lynwood Pacific(Northwest), where right fielder Pierce Jones would go 4-4 at the plate with 3 deep shots sailing over the fences. They would lose the next game to a monstrous Nevada(West) team in the same mercy rule fashion, but thanks to the tournament being double elimination, that wouldn’t be the end of them. When asked how he felt the loss might impact the team, manager Darold Butler said, “these boys like playing everyday so this is a better for them.” After falling to the consolation bracket, JRW would win their next 3 games with a comeback win against Cumberland, RI(New England), an easy 6-1 victory over Pearland, TX(Southwest), and a 6-5 win against Philadelphia(Mid-Atlantic), to set them up for a rematch against the team who had previously slaughtered them on the field, for the US Championship.
An official watch party was held in front of the Chicago Theater, where supporters shut down State Street between Randolph and Lake, until after the game. There also was another watch party, that Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended, on the far south side of Chicago at the Kroc Center. Being the only all black team to make to the title game, JRW captured the hearts of the city, and the nation, with their unbelievable run in the tournament. They would go on to defeat the Nevada team, 7-5, in their rematch for the US Championship game, propelling them into the International Championship game, to be played the following day. They competed against South Korea in the final, where they would suffer a heart-wrenching 8-4 loss, capping off their cinderella run. Though, JRW wasn’t crowned the “best little league team in the world,” they earned the right to call themselves the best in country. Those young men from Jackie Robinson West were exceptional ball players, and with that they were able to unite a city that couldn’t need unity at a better time; with all the violence going on in Chicago, this team was truly a breath of fresh air for a city who normally only gets national media attention for its murder rate, at least as of lately.
The city has scheduled a celebration in the team’s honor for tomorrow, August 27. Beginning at 9 a.m. there will be a neighborhood rally at Jackie Robinson Park, located at 10540 S. Morgan St, followed by a parade, scheduled to begin at 10am. It will leave from Jackie Robinson Park and end downtown at Millennium Park, with a 2nd rally around 11. Chance The Rapper is among the Chicago celebrities that will be in attendance. he is scheduled to introduce the team at tomorrow’s Parade. The Acid Rap emcee sent the following tweet a little while ago confirming the news.