By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — The Jackie Robinson West Little League players that won the national championship were honored guests of the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday.
The now-famous 13 members of the team from the South Side club received pregame congratulations from the players, a picture with the entire Cubs team and a tour of the clubhouse.
The Cinderella story for the young players continues until Tuesday morning, when Chicago Public schools go back in session. The young men who captivated the entire nation with their improbable run at the Little League World Series have one more celebration in front of them. The team and their families will be honored with a celebration at Disney World next weekend.
Cubs players seemed excited about having the young champs at Wrigley on Monday.
“It has been great getting to know these young men,” pitcher Wesley Wright said. “I have been really impressed with them. They are very mature and not over their heads by all the attention.”
Wright was asked if this experience and exposure for young African-American children can get more kids from the inner city back playing baseball.
“It won’t hurt the process,” Wright said. “I think it will take more than one team though. I believe throughout the U.S, people start playing the game at a younger age and sticking with the game. I think a lot of kids play the game at a younger age, then get pulled away for a number of reasons. If we can keep them playing all the way from middle school though high school, it will give the game a chance to grow all over.”
The number of African-Americans playing in the major leagues has dropped to under eight percent of the 900 players listed on the 30 clubs. The highest percentage of African-American players was 27 percent in 1975. Since 1980, there has been a steady decline in black players in the sport. MLB has seen an increase in Hispanic players from seven percent in 1975 to more than 30 percent in 2014.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.