Trey Hondras, 12, first baseman for the Jackie Robinson West team, was a bit too busy Thursday to call his mother from the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.
But he made sure to text: “I’m having a lot of fun. It’s like Christmas down here,” his mother Kaleena Hammons, 31, read while watching the game with hundreds of supporters at a viewing party at Morgan Park’s Jackie Robinson Field sponsored by the city and the White Sox. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wearing a yellow Jackie Robinson West Great Lakes champions T-shirt, shook hands and talked with the team’s fans.
Hammons, of Morgan Park, plans to drive to Pennsylvania on Friday with her 7-year-old son and her mother to watch Trey and his team play Sunday against the winner of a game between Nevada and South Dakota.
“I was very nervous, but right now I’m just really excited and a little disappointed because I couldn’t be there today,” Hammons said. “But Chicago coming together like this just made everything better. This is so nice.”
Just a few feet away, player Jaheim Benton had a large and loud cheering section, including his mother, siblings, aunt and cousins.
His mother, Devona Benton, had a raspy voice after cheering at the top of her lungs. She carried a large poster of her son, No. 8. Jaheim’s cousin, Latwanise Taylor, said he had been playing baseball since he was 6.
“He is definitely a humble kid,” said Taylor, 30, of Hyde Park. “He wouldn’t dare show off . . . even to see him on TV, he’s just so calm and composed. He’s handling all this attention very well.”
After the team beat Lynwood, Wash., 12-2 after just five innings, Devona Benton screamed: “I’m so excited. I’m so excited. I gotta get down there.”
“He goes from first to home in no time,” said Shameka Benton, 30, Jaheim’s sister. “I never thought we could make it this far.”
Shameka Benton said she was touched to see so many people come out to support the Morgan Park-based team, many of whom didn’t know the players.
“I love seeing our city doing something positive. Every time I log onto Facebook you see R.I.P., and we lose too many young brothers due to the violence,” said Shameka Benton, of Englewood. “I love to see these boys doing something positive. I hope that this motivates a lot of kids in Chicago, and parents, to involve their children into something positive.”