by Wendy Widom
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Jackie Robinson West All-Stars have made Chicago proud. For the first time in more than 30 years, a local team has made it to the Little League World Series, which kicks off today in Williamsport, Pa.
The city and the Chicago White Sox have teamed up to help fans cheer the team on. At 2 p.m., as Jackie Robinson West battles a team from Lynnwood, Washington, the City of Chicago and the White Sox will host a watch party at Jackie Robinson Field in the Morgan Park neighborhood.
Southpaw, the White Sox mascot, will be there, soaking up the fun as fans enjoy free ballpark food and a DJ while watching the game live on ESPN. Baseball legends Carlos May and Minnie Minoso will attend and sign autographs.
Like many in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel watched as the Jackie Robinson West team came from behind on Saturday to beat New Albany, Indiana, 12-7, in the Great Lakes Region Championship. Shortly after, Emanuel announced plans for a Little League World Series watch party for the city.
“The Jackie Robinson West All-Stars have excited an entire city with their dedication and athleticism, and everyone should have the chance to see a Chicago team play in the Little League World Series for the first time since 1983,” Emanuel said in a statement on the city’s website.
The City joined forces with the Chicago White Sox, who already know many players of the Jackie Robinson West team through their special youth league.They chose Jackie Robinson Field as the location and soon vendors came forward to offer their services so the city can root for the boys together with food and music.
The turnout at Jackie Robinson Field, located at 10540 S. Morgan Street, is expected to be between 250 and 1,000 people, but the city assured CBS 2 it can safely accommodate more. If you are headed to the game today, bring chairs or a blanket to sit on.
According to Scott Reifert, Vice President of Communications for the White Sox, today’s watch party is “ultimately for the kids to realize how they impacted their own neighborhood and hometown.”
Summing up the city’s sentiment for Jackie Robinson West, Reifert goes on to say, “They are champions already.”
To see live tweets from the game today, follow CBS 2’s Jim Williams.