The Jackie Robinson West Little League team has made Chicago history.
The South Side team of 11- and 12-year-olds made it to the Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Indianapolis and, with their win on Saturday, the team has advanced to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.
That makes them the first all-black Chicago Little League team to make it that far in three decades.
Last year the team came within one game of the World Series.
This year's win has prompted Gov. Pat Quinn to declare Saturday "Jackie Robinson West Little League Champions Day" across the state.
“With power and poise, this group of young ballplayers has outperformed opponents across the state, region and now they have their eyes, gloves and hearts set on a bigger field," Quinn said in a statement. “Like Jackie Robinson, they didn’t hang up their cleats in the face of adversity. Now this year for the first time since 1983, they will get to compete in the Little League World Series. This group of young ballplayers and their coaches have made all of Illinois proud. I wish them the best of luck as they represent our state on the worldwide stage.”
The team also earned praise from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said the city "could not be more proud."
"More important than making history on Saturday, the courage to persevere and hard work displayed by the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team and Coach Darold Butler, has once again reminded all of Chicago the very best of what we hope from and for our kids," Emanuel said in a statement. "I want the whole team and Coach Butler to know that Chicago is rooting for them, and as they take the field for the Little League World Series, they will be taking the best wishes of an entire city with them.”
The team posted a thank you on their Facebook page Sunday.
"On behalf of the players and coaches, sincere thanks for your prayers, support, donations and all of your positive energy."
The boys will fly from Indianapolis to Williamsport Sunday. They are scheduled to play Thursday afternoon.