Jackie Robinson West gives Chicago Little League World Series fe - FOX 32 News Chicago

Jackie Robinson West gives Chicago Little League World Series fever

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Win or lose, a collection of youngsters from Chicago figure to leave a lasting impression on the Little League World Series.

The Jackie Robinson West team is comprised of all African-American players. When tournament play begins Thursday their league will make its first appearance in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 31 years - the latest indicator that baseball is making strides in an effort to lure more young African-Americans back to the game.

The number of African-Americans in the major leagues has dwindled steadily since the mid-1980's when they comprised about 19 percent of rosters; the number stood at 8.13 percent on opening day this year.

"It's great for Chicago as a city with all the bad national attention going on with violence in the city," one fan told FOX 32 News.

Fans of the team say Jackie Robinson West reinforces good behavior in their players - work hard, listen, do the right thing and go to school.

The Great Lakes Region Champs will take on a team from Lynnwood, Wash. in the first round of the LLWS. The city of Chicago and the White Sox are hosting a watch party for families, friends and neighbors of the team. It will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Park. Southpaw the White Sox mascot and former players will kick off the festivities.

The event will feature free food and games for the whole family.

If you can't make it to the viewing party, you can watch the game on ESPN2.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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