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They’re making history as an all-black Little League team, representing Chicago’s south side for the first time in 31 years. Jackie Robinson West is proving there is still interest in baseball in urban America, even though the number of African-Americans in the Majors has dwindled.
And they’re not even through puberty yet.
The team beat Pearland of Texas 6-1 Tuesday night to stay alive in the Little League World Series. After a day off Wednesday, the Chicago team will play the loser of Taney of Philadelphia vs. Mountain Ridge of Las Vegas on Thursday.
But win or lose, Chicago’s boys of summer have slid their way into the hearts of many, arguably at a time when the nation needed it the most. While news reports are filled with racially tinged violence, Jackie Robinson West is creating news its own way.
The boys are signing autographs, posing for pictures and playing tough defense that’s kept them alive.
‘‘I like it,’’ left fielder Darion Radcliff told the Chicago Sun Times. ‘‘It’s like I’m famous.’’
You may not know their names yet. But one day, maybe you will. These guys have the makings of what it takes to play the game.
Tuesday night, second baseman Marquis Jackson, the team’s hardest-throwing pitcher, turned double plays twice. He also closed the game.
‘‘We go through fielding drills, and most of them are double plays because we get in that situation a lot, and when they happen, we just turn them,” Jackson said.
The players are already stars in their home city. The Sun Times reported that TV ratings for Sunday’s game, a loss vs. Las Vegas, were higher than MLB games for the White Sox and Cubs.
For now though, it’s just about playing the game and having fun. After a day off, the team takes the field again Thursday.
‘‘It’s exciting to me here because it’s fun and playing baseball all summer, missing days of school,’’ Jackson told the Chicago newspaper. ‘‘It’s just a fun experience.’’