Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

More than Just Athleticism

When I was a little girl, I used to walk with my brother, cousin, and uncle to Jackie Robinson Park. Sometimes we got to play at the playground. Other times, we were forced to sit in the dugout while my uncle had football practice. I often drive passed that park, still living in the neighborhood I grew up in, and see boys, now years younger than me, playing baseball, and I remember my teenage years, watching the high school drum lines compete in the parades, taking my own little cousins and neighbors to play, attending the baseball games. 

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

On my way home from work the other night, I was bombarded by a ton of people, cars, and news crews. It had been a 14-hour work day for me, and my mind was a million miles away, and part of me really thought for a moment that another baby had gotten killed, another mother was grieving, another brother questioning whether retaliation was an option. And as I crept along in my car, approaching the west end of the park, I realized that our boys were back on! They must be playing tonight! And most importantly, the world was taking notice of little black boys in Chicago for all the right reasons!

I saw the crowds. I saw the cars, packed along the streets. I saw the happiness. Winning or losing mattered, but not that much because pride was there, on the poked out chests of grandfathers, on the wide eyes of little brothers and sisters, on the smiles of moms and dads who worked so hard to keep their sons safe, playing a game, America’s game.

Jackie Robinson West


So as we watch or listen to or read about the little boys from Chicago, wearing the name of an American hero, taking on the team from South Korea in the Little League World Series, let’s remember, even when the media seems to want us to forget, that all is not bad in Chicago. In fact, there’s a lot of good, really good, here!

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