(CBS) — One year after the Jackie Robinson West team’s triumph — followed by the eventual downfall — many inner-city Chicago baseball players continue to gather inspiration from the South Side youngsters.

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Among those is Blake Hickman, who grew up in Chicago and has been drafted by the White Sox.

“The things that they (JRW) did for this city, it gave Chicago hope and I think that’s the biggest thing and why I look up to those guys,” he said.

Hickman, who pitches for the University of Iowa, spoke at last week’s Double Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field, which is a salute to the Negro Leagues and a platform for Chicago’s next generation of baseball players.

Former White Sox pitcher James Baldwin was there as well, telling WBBM: “You don’t see the amount of African-American young players playing the game like they should have back when I was growing up.”

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But the point of the Double Duty Classic, which is named for Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, a legendary Negro Leagues player, is to change that slide and get more inner-city kids playing the American pastime.

Sports journalist Michael Wilbon is a native South Sider.

“I grew up here,” he told WBBM, “and I was them (these young players) at one point.”

Wilbon says the push is not just to see more black players in the major leagues, but to provide more opportunities for education, for advancement, for a richer life.

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“Baseball,” Wilbon says, “has enabled African-American people to make enormous contributions to various communities, causes and efforts.”