Sept. 3, 2014
CHICAGO – By now, the whole city — even the country — is behind Jackie Robinson West, the South Side Little League team that captured the U.S. championship title and battled for the world crown.
But the team has no bigger fans than UIC Athletics, Flames baseball and Curtis Granderson, UIC grad and Major League player.
The team of 11- and 12-year-old baseball talents played four times this summer at Granderson Stadium, new home to the UIC Flames and Chicago youth sports organizations.
“Jackie Robinson West values its relationship with UIC and Curtis Granderson a great deal,” said Bill Haley, director of the team. “The partnership gives our kids the opportunity to play on a first-class facility in a university environment. In addition, Curtis is a unique role model who we want our kids to emulate.”
Watching the team crowned national champs was a thrill for UIC head baseball coach Mike Dee.
“To see a team like Jackie Robinson West, which has been a great program for a long time, make it to and win the national championships is unbelievable,” Dee said. “It was exciting for me to watch, just like it was for so many people in the city, especially because I know them.”
Granderson, an outfielder for the New York Mets who donated $5 million for the stadium, has pledged his support for creating partnerships with youth baseball organizations through his Grand Kids Foundation.
“One of the primary reasons we’re reaching out to youth programs is to help foster the quality of youth baseball in urban environments and increase the number of African-American participants,” Dee said.
"More youth baseball teams are expected to play at Granderson Stadium next summer", Dee said.
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