CINCINNATI -- Who's the best baseball team in the city of Chicago? It could be the Jackie Robinson West team, which won the U.S. title in the Little League World Series and was celebrated with a parade in Chicago on Wednesday.
"Anyone who watched that team play for an inning or two on TV probably couldn't help but watch the rest of the tournament," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who took part in the pep rally. "There was a magnetic quality to that team.
"Probably the best thing to happen to the whole city of Chicago this summer from a baseball standpoint was put together by 13 12-year-old kids from the South Side of Chicago," he said. "It's good for the city, the country and the game of baseball."
The Cubs will have some of the Little Leaguers at Wrigley Field during the next homestand. The date has not been set yet.
"At industry meetings and in front offices around the game, people ask how we can get young people playing the game of baseball," Epstein said. "There's nothing that a bunch of suits in a board room can do that will be as powerful as what those 12-year-old kids did to demonstrate how compelling the game of baseball can be. They made baseball cool again for young kids."
He complimented the Jackie Robinson West organizers, who have been proactive in terms of finding kids, selling them on the game of baseball, and getting them to practice and off the streets so they can learn about sportsmanship, hard work and discipline.
"We can all go to school on how they built their program," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.