CHICAGO - An all-black team from Chicago is headed to the Little League World Series for the first time in three decades.
Jackie Robinson West will be in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to take on the Pacific Little League from Lynnwood, Washington, on Thursday at 2 p.m. Cameron Bufford's fifth-inning grand slam helped the Chicago team to a 12-7 victory Saturday in the Great Lakes Regional championship game in Indianapolis.
The last Chicago team to qualify for the World Series was West in 1983. West fell one game short of the series last year. The team is 11 and 12-year-olds from the city's South Side and Southwest Side.
"You have 13 African-American players, volunteer coaches, and everybody throughout the league trying to do something positive for the city of Chicago," manager Darold Butler told the Chicago Sun-Times last month. "So this is huge. This gives our kids something to strive for, to set goals, and to accomplish."
Following the win, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared Saturday "Jackie Robinson West Little League Champions Day" and said they have made people in their home state proud.
"With power and poise, this group of young ballplayers has outperformed opponents across the state, region and now they have their eyes, gloves and hearts set on a bigger field," Quinn said in a statement.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he wants the players to know that when they travel to the series "they will be taking the best wishes of an entire city with them." He announced Monday that the city will host a city watch party for the game.