Jackie Robinson West Little League’s Lasting Impression


“I said ‘Can you call me back in 5-10 minutes? So they called back, and that’s when I talked to him.”

That quote was from the Chicago Tribune and Jackie Robinson West Little League’s D.J. Butler after his team lost to Seoul, South Korea in the Little League World Series World Championship game, 8-4.

Butler was asking if President Barack Obama could call him back to congratulate him and his team on a wonderful run that fell just one win short.

A 4-foot-8 kid from Chicago’s South Side put the leader of the free world on hold.

Butler’s hilarious gesture was just a tiny example of how much fun and excitement that the Jackie Robinson West Little League brought to the Little League World Series.

Heck, the little heartthrob even got WNBA superstar Skylar Diggins‘ attention during Sunday’s game:

The Chicago bunch fell behind in the sixth inning on Sunday, 8-1. But the gritty bunch of kids who represent the United States never gave up.

JRW scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth and had two runners on before their magical journey ended. Even in the defeat to the undefeated kids from South Korea, the United States Champions won America over.

The endless support came from everyone to Chicago rap artist, Common, to President Obama, to several Major League Baseball players and even Spike Lee showed his support for the Chicago bunch.

What’s amazing about this group of kids: They lost, but the country is still talking about these 11, 12 and 13-year-old kids like they are heroes … because let’s be honest, they are.

Many people across the United States understand that Chicago’s South Side is one of the most dangerous regions in the entire world.

For a group of young, African-American baseball players to make a run all the way to the Little League World Series World Championship game in today’s age seems almost impossible, but the kids from Jackie Robinson West LL made it happen.

“”I said ‘Can you call me back in 5-10 minutes? So they called back, and that’s when I talked to him.” – D.J. Butler

Why is it seemingly impossible for a group of inner-city kids to come within one win of winning the Little League World Series?

Numbers don’t lie.

Bleacher Report featured an article on August 12th about the lack of African-Americans in Major League Baseball. According to a chart in the piece, less than 10% of MLB Opening Day roster spots from 2009 until this season were filled by African-Americans.

The “disappearing black baseball player” is concerning, but there’s hope.

How? The world was glued to their television sets when Jackie Robinson West played, along with the super-sensation female from Philadelphia, 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis.

Davis captured America’s heart with a complete game, two-hit shutout of a team from Tennessee in the Little League World Series pool play round.

She even racked up a Sports Illustrated cover during her team’s time in Williamsport:

Personally, the runs from Mo’ne and JRW was exactly was the game of baseball needed. I played the game for over 12 years and nothing pleases me more than to see such a great game become more diverse and able to reach different cultures and brands.

Being a young man of multiple races, seeing an all-African American team almost win the Little League World Series warmed my heart. What made it more special for me was seeing Chicago’s South Side being represented so well. The South Side of Chicago can be dangerous and many lives are lost every day.

But after what the JRW boys did and seeing how much fun and exposure they had, they might have saved some of those young lives from a life on the streets.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to have so much success that they get to talk to the President of the United States as a 12-year-old kid?