A Southwest Side senior league team returned home to Chicago on Sunday as world champions.
The Clear Ridge Baseball club won the Senior League World Series on Saturday in Bangor, Maine.
They got a hero’s welcome on Sunday from hundreds of proud family and friends.
Fans packed Hale Park to congratulate the champions, who beat Australia seven games to two.
“These guys are not quitters. They’ll beat anything,” said Mark Robinson, team manager. “We have all the confidence in the world in them. This is what we started out two months ago to do and we did it.”
What’s most remarkable about this team is that the Clear Ridge team didn’t exist until this past May. While at least half of 15 and 16 year olds have been playing together since they were age 7, it’s been on other teams.
However, when the opportunity to represent their Garfield Ridge neighborhoods came up, the boys jumped at it.
The road, however, wasn’t always easy.
“We were at one point, one pitch away from being eliminated in the districts and we came back to win that and haven’t lost since,” Robinson said.
Clear Ridge is the first Illinois team to ever win the Senior League World Series. Their players all attend different Catholic high schools in the area.
Robinson said he has just one more dream left for them — “that they go on to play Division 1 school baseball. Become great pillars of the community.”
An even bigger rally to celebrate the team’s success is planned for next Saturday.