The little league baseball squad Jackie Robinson West, hailing from the South Side of Chicago, has just become the first all-Black team to win the US Championship at the Little League World Series, beating the previously undefeated Las Vegas (incidentally, an all-white team) in a dramatic, hard-fought 7-5 game. What a great year for this event, first with the Mo’ne Davis story and now this. JRW demonstrated poise, determination and mental toughness, coming back twice from deficits, outlasting their opponents down the stretch, scoring with small ball to grind out the win.
Jackie Robinson West is the first all-Black team to play in the Little League World Series since 1983, when the same organization made its first appearance. Before that, back in 1955 — the year after Brown v. Board of Education ruled that segregation was unconstitutional — the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars from Charleston, South Carolina, played their way to Williamsport for the final tournament, but white teams refused to play against them and white coaches organized a boycott against the 11- and 12-year-old African American players. The team attended the event, but watched the entire tournament from the bleachers rather than the field.
Not so this year. JRW is the national champion. They play South Korea tomorrow for the international title and I’ll be cheering for them.