Mo'ne Davis and Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Inspired Us All
By: Alex LaGrone
Mo'ne Davis is a 13 year old pitching phenom that led her… yes her Little League team into the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Taney Dragons' team rallied around her as she's the ace pitcher on the team. The Taney Dragons along with Davis did well in the tournament before losing to eventual U.S. Champion all-black team Chicago Jackie Robinson West (more on them later).
Davis is the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series, and the sixth to get a hit in the history of the tournament. Davis was selected to be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine. This was an iconic cover of a sports magazine dominated by men. Davis became well known for her pitching prowess. She is able to throw the baseball at 74 miles per hour with accuracy. Mo'ne is not only talented but courageous. She has captured many fans and was the darling of the LLWS of 2014.
With Mo'ne's success some fans are cashing in with items she autographed. A baseball signed by her turned up for sale on e-bay. It was reportedly sold for $500 dollars. Brandon Steiner, owner of Steiner Sports, a leading sports memorabilia company in New York, said he would pay Mo' ne at least $25,000 to autograph between 500 to 1,000 items and estimated she could make up to $100,000 on the deal. Steiner said he wouldn't make the offer because it could jeopardize Mo'ne's eligibility to play college athletics.
When Joseph Haley founded the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West Little League (JRW) in 1971, there were no grand plans of winning state championships or reaching the Little League World Series. There was a vision of using youth baseball to help black families unite and establish a sense of community.
Haley died in 2005, but the league he founded has blossomed and not only united a neighborhood, but the whole city of Chicago. Moreover, communities around the country were pulling for them to be successful and beat the odds.
The JRW team defeated a very tough Las Vegas team to become the U.S. Little League Champions. JRW went on to represent the U.S in the finals and lost to the International Champion, Seoul, South Korea. Seoul, with it's dominate pitching and solid defense held off the inspired and well coached Jackie Robinson West team that won fans of all races.
Kudos to the parents who raised these kids to carry themselves in such a respectable manner on such a big platform with ESPN televising their every move on and off the field. They all have represented their families and community well and have a lot to be proud of. The team represents a model for parental support, sports and teamwork.
Oftentimes, football and basketball are favored over baseball. However, with the attention given these two iconic teams hopefully this will change and encourage participation for other (especially African American) youngsters. To have an African-American squad from Chicago and a black young lady on an all boys team succeed on such a big stage is, no doubt an inspiration to us all.