Jackie Robinson West players are 'Champions Still', supporters say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After Jackie Robinson West was stripped of its national title, many of their supporters say that the bottom line is - despite rules broken by adults -the players did nothing wrong.

The JRW Championship T-shirt has been updated with a stamp proclaiming them as champions still, despite being stripped of the title by Little League baseball.

"The kids are still champions in my eyes, and I think in a lot of people's eyes in Chicago," said Marco DiPaulo, Mint Clothing.

The controversy has been a hot topic of conversation all day, and at WVON, the sentiment is overwhelmingly in support of the JRW team.

"The community reaction obviously is outrage," said Glen Richards, WVON.

That's the feeling the neighborhood across the street from JRW's home field.

"They shouldn't be punished, everything we told them to do they did," said Amon Hill, neighbor.

And in the big leagues, the feeling is the same.

"If you think I'm going to find fault in people who are trying to empower kids, who are giving them some hope, who are taking away from their families and their lives - you're talking to the wrong person," said White Sox Vice President Ken Williams.

The championship run by the Jackie Robinson Team was the feel-good story of the fall, and helped unite the city behind one baseball team. And many community leaders are not willing to give that up, including Mayor Emanuel, who talked to the head of Little League International.

"You want to teach these kids, or hold people accountable? Hold the adults who did this accountable," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

This weekend, Rainbow PUSH plans to have a rally for the players to remind them that they are still champions on the South Side.

The rally will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14, at Rainbow PUSH headquarters on 930 E. 50th Street.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.