Jackie Robinson West will not be a big story at the Little League World Series
Unfortunately, it’s not because in an Obama, post-racial age, a baseball team comprised of African-Americans is not an anomaly.
It’s because the team of 11- and 12-year-olds from the south side of Chicago, the top seed in the Great Lakes Regional finals at Indianapolis, lost 10-4 tonight to fourth-seeded Logan County (Ky.), the only team it didn’t see while going 3-1 in pool play. Logan County, which beat defending Kentucky state champion Bowling Green Eastern to get to the regional round, faces third-seeded Bartholomew County, Ind., Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN, which is televising the U.S. regional final games.
Judging by the conversation I had with Bill Haley — son of the league’s founder and father of one of the Jackie Robinson West players — everyone will be disappointed, but not heartbroken. (Sheesh, I was inconsolable after striking out to end my North Muskegon (Mich.) team’s run three games into our local tournament, so I can imagine the kids are feeling pretty broken up after getting so close to South Williamsport, Pa.)
Any team that wins a state championship and gets within two wins of the Little League World Series has had an amazing run. But Haley also said the league’s success isn’t measured by how the all-star team does in the Little League tournament. Success is year after year, getting kids to come out and play, and parents to coach and support them. Heck, that should be the measure of success for any youth league.