Miles from Williamsport, Pa., where Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West baseball team recently captured the national Little League World Series title, each year boys—and girls—play the game on local diamonds in seasons filled with life's lessons, with hopes and dreams.
The Sweet Season begins in Ford Heights
By John W. Fountain
This is the first in a series
The Sweet Season. It is a
time when graying or balding men—even men in their twilight years—still
remember like yesterday. It is a time we all remember. A time when little
boys—and girls—are innocent and free, to a certain extent, no matter what
cruelty their eyes might already have seen. A time when smiles curl easily at
the edges of their faces and joy shines in their eyes like the glint of sun on
polished chrome. A time when boys aren’t ashamed to hug each other. When a bag
of potato chips and a pat on the back from a coach are still sufficient prizes.
The Sweet Season. A time in
our lives when disappointment and pain over a loss can dissolve as quickly as a
two-run lead in one inning. A time when the fate of a season can hinge on one
last at bat. One last hope.
It is a time when there’s not
much sweeter than the sound of a bat smacking a fastball, the sight of it
sailing into centerfield for a
bases-loaded-clearing hit. Or the pop of a catcher’s mitt and the yell
of “Streeeeeiiiike threeeeee!!!” by a giant-sized umpire, leaping from his
Or a sip of cold water on a
sun-drenched summer’s evening at the end of a sweaty game or practice, the mix of
chatter and laughter of little boys rising like crickets as they their collect
bats and gloves against a purplish sky.
The Sweet Season: Baseball.
Boys. Sunflower seeds. A field. And dreams. Little League Baseball teams.
This is the story of a team
of boys called the Cubs, most of them from Ford Heights—a forlorn south
suburban hamlet of 2,787, about 30 miles south of Chicago. It is a story about
boys, who, this summer, would discover baseball. The story of a group of men
with a passion for hardball and also for trying to save black boys at risk to
gangs, homicide and prison—at a time when baseball has waned as the sport of
choice among African Americans.
from Williamsport, Pa., where Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West baseball team is
currently playing in the Little League World Series, each year boys—and
girls—play the game on diamonds that, despite the environs, can be fertile
ground for life’s lessons and also for dreams. This is their story. The story of a season filled with
challenges. A season beyond their wildest dreams.
There is something about baseball.
...Something about playing beneath a
baby-blue sky kissed by marshmallow clouds.