‘The only thing stolen: bases’

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This is the second excerpt in a series titled The Sweet Season

No fatalism. No pathology. Simply a slice of life in middle America. Of little boys and men with Little League hopes and dreams.

No gang. Team.

No guns. Bats.

The only hitters are base hitters. The only thing stolen: bases.

No OGs. Just older men, graying, or balding or simply seasoned by life and eager to share their wisdom. To help black boys thrive.

No courthouse holding pen. A dugout.

No sagging. No prison orange. Uniforms — blue shirts tucked neatly into gray pants.

No bullets flying. Fly balls. No murder tally. Only runs. No running for cover.

Losses, but no loss of life. And here, on this field of dreams, the possibility of tomorrow is itself reason enough to keep trying, to do it all again and again, believing that sooner or later, just maybe, you might win.

This is the story of a team of boys called the Cubs, mostly from Ford Heights — a forlorn hamlet of 2,787, about 30 miles south of Chicago. A story about boys, who, this summer, would discover baseball in a season beyond their wildest dreams.

Miles from Williamsport, Pa., where Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West baseball team has played in the Little League World Series, each year boys — and girls — play the game on local diamonds in seasons filled with life’s lessons, with hopes and dreams.

Jaheim is a lanky quiet kid, a natural athlete. There is Tony, a coffee-brown boy with big eyes. There’s Isaiah, a wiry sure catcher, who, at 8, already has years of experience. He’s one of two boys from Olympia Fields. Mostly, the boys, like Jaheim, are from Ford Heights: Sharod. DaVontae, David, Teron . . .

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