Jackie Robinson West are U.S. champs

Jackie Robinson West plays and coaches pose with their championship banner after beating Las Vegas during the U.S. title game in the Little League World Series on Saturday. (Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune / August 23, 2014)

With every pitch, catch and swing of the bat, 13 boys from the South Side have managed to bring hope and happiness back to the Windy City. If you didn't know anything about the Jackie Robinson West Little League team before, say, a week ago, you do now.

In a city often criticized for everything that's wrong, it's amazing to see this team step up to the plate (no pun intended) and show what's so right about it.

In the same way we gather to cheer our favorite professional teams, Jackie Robinson West's games also brought families, friends and strangers together in the spirit of joy and pride.

Not only have they captivated the hearts of their hometown, but the nation has caught on as well, as evidenced by the hundreds of posts on social media by celebrities and their outpouring of support.

Actress Malinda Williams wrote on Twitter, "I sure hope #Chicago is planning a parade for the #JackieRobinsonWest boys and their families…they deserve it."

I couldn't agree more.

These kids have taken their talents to top and deserve a citywide celebration in the streets of downtown Chicago. Because of the greatness of the Jackie Robinson West players, it's only right that the city celebrates them in the same way it would a professional team.

Sad to say, I was tardy to the party in getting to know this talented group. Seeing Chicago rapper Common's Instagram posts sparked my interest, and now I'm a superfan. Although basketball and football are my favorite sports, I've come to love and appreciate America's pastime. Never would I have thought I would watch the Little League World Series—until now.

So Jackie Robinson West, I—no, WE—salute you. You've not only made your families proud but the entire city of Chicago. D.J., Lawrence, Jaheim, Ed, Cameron, Brandon, Darion, Marquis, Josh, Eddie, Prentiss, Pierce, Trey, your names and faces will forever live on in Chitown history.

And let's not forget the team's manager Darold Butler, and coaches Jerry Houston and Jason Little. Now let's break open the Capri Suns, order pizzas, get the floats ready, throw confetti and CELEBRATE!

Lela Olds is a RedEye special contributor.

 

PARADE ON WEDNESDAY

The city of Chicago announced last week that it will hold a parade to celebrate the Jackie Robinson West team's run through the Little League World Series. Details on the time and route are still to come.

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