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Jackie Robinson West Hits Homer in White House Visit

JRW with PresidentThe all-Black Jackie Robinson West All Stars baseball team that advanced to the finals of the Little League World Series took another amazing journey Thursday: They visited President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

The team from the South Side of Chicago toured the White House with bright smiles and their gold and blue jerseys.

The youngsters caught the nation’s attention this summer as they battled through the tournament held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Proud Little League volunteer Bill Haley told the Chicago Tribune what the success meant to the young African-American team.

“The big thing for the kids is the idea that their circumstances don’t determine their ceiling,” he said.

They were the first Chicago-area team to make it to the LLWS in 31 years and the first all-Black team to win the U.S. title.

The president took photos with the 13 players, and the team presented him and the first lady with customized baseball gloves and jerseys. The president spoke to the team about staying in school and providing an example for their classmates, while the first lady spoke about the importance of exercise.

One of the players, Marquis Jackson, 13, challenged the president to a game of basketball. According to the Tribune, Obama told him he’d schedule a match the next time he was in Chicago.

The Jackie Robinson West All Stars are based in the South Side of Chicago, where murder has been rampant. The team provided a respite from that vision and gained a national following through the World Series.

“They worked hard; we worked hard as volunteers and as a league, and it truly paid off,” team manager Darold Butler told the Chicago Tribune.

The kids went 6-0 in their regional games and 5-2 during the national round. They met South Korea in the championship game of the LLWS. Despite losing 8-4, the team had won a place in American history.

According to NBCChicago.com, the South Korean Embassy has invited the team to South Korea for a two-game rematch.

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