Cops, kids and community bond at Englewood Police/Youth Baseball opening day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League opening day Thursday.

Founded in 2015, the league aims to improve relations between Chicago police and residents of Englewood, and provide structure for youths, and improve life in the neighborhood.

One hundred kids are registered in the league, divided into six teams that are named after historic African American baseball teams as well as notable African American historical figures.

Before the games got underway players took a few laps around the diamond and stretched to warm up. Few things are as exciting as opening day of baseball season.

"I like batting," said Janiah Williams, player.

Many of the kids will be taking the field for their rookie season.

"He was very excited to put on his uniform. It's bringing a whole new world to him. I love it," said Jennipher Adkins, whose son plays for the Tigers.

The new world is meant to provide Englewood children with a sense of structure and belonging.

"I feel safe," player Larel Johnson said.

"They know they're part of a bigger group doing one thing with a common goal. They have to practice for that team, not just themselves," Adkins said.

To rile up that sense of camaraderie, opening day came with a special ceremony from the Chicago Police Department, who are league sponsors and say the game itself contains the ideals the league hopes to instill through mentoring and sport.

"Baseball itself, the sport, teamwork, determination, discipline, organization, and to be able to work with one another," said Commander Kenneth Johnson, 7th District.

With cops and parents cheering them on it, was time to play ball.

The league will have games and practices every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the summer. The league is run by the 7th District police, and as a special treat at the end of the summer they will play some of the other local police districts for bragging rights.
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