They did it.
The players of Jackie Robinson West accomplished what the press conferences, White House promises, dueling statistics and police reinforcements could not.The winning Little League sluggers knocked Chicago out of the grip of violence and death and into the embrace of joy and hope.
The South Side 13 claimed some big love here and worldwide, when they competed in the Little League World Series last month. The world celebrated the JRW winners for their sportsmanship, poise and competitive spirit.
Their hits, homers and slides pushed the images of a war-zone “Chiraq” out of the headlines, curbed the vicious cycle of urban mayhem and reinstated pride in Chicago’s South Side.
African American families all over Chicago were vindicated. Yes, their boys and girls can turn away from gangs, guns and drugs. Yes, black youths are not destined to succumb to the streets.
Our boys of summer can bring another message we desperately need to hear.
Our African American all-stars are in shape. Healthy, trim, quick, bright-eyed. I saw no chubbies on that field of dreams in South Williamsport, Penn.
Their spectacular success came, in part, because they are healthy and active. As all children should be.
My alter ego, the Fat Nag, will remind you that obesity can kill.