Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team will have some extra-special support in Williamsport when they play Philadelphia's Taney Little League squad Thursday night.
Several players and coaches from the 1983 Jackie Robinson West team that made the Little League World Series drove to Williamsport in time for the big game.
"We're blessed to be back here, to see it again. It puts it all in perspective," said former player Shawn Hammock after arriving Thursday morning.
The former players are wearing yellow and white t-shirts with their 1983 team picture on it, along with their old baseball caps.
"We didn't understand the history of this. We just loved to play the game," said starting center fielder Ronell Coleman.
Not only did the players represent Jackie Robinson West, they were the last team from Chicago to play at the Little League World Series.
"To see them here, I know how much it means to them, and just to be back, it's kind of got me choked up, because it's great to see our kids doing something positive," former Jackie Robinson West coach Tony Montgomery said.
The significance of having the former players in coaches in Williamsport isn't lost on the current team.
"To have these guys who did it in 1983, and showing us how proud they are of us has got us motivated," current Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler said.
Thursday's game pits Chicago against Philadelphia, whose star female pitcher, Mo'ne Davis, has become the darling of the sports world. Davis became the first Little League player in history to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She isn't available to pitch Thursday due to Little League rules, but she also plays first base and right field.
"I'm anxious to play them. It's just unfortunate that we are going to have to do what we do and send them on that short drive back to Philly," Butler said.
Thursday's winner will play in the U.S. title game on Saturday versus Nevada, a team both Chicago and Philadelphia has lost to.
The winner of Saturday's game will play for the Little League World Series against an international team Sunday, and the loser will play in a consolation game Sunday.
A Thursday night Chicago watch party has been moved indoors due to inclement weather.