After Little League announced Wednesday that Chicago's Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of its U.S. title, city politicians offered their support for the players on the team.
The team agreed to vacate its title after knowingly violating residency rules, which were revealed by a Little League investigation.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement saying the city still considers Jackie Robinson West champions and spoke of the impact the team had on the city in its run to the championship.
"These remarkable boys brought our entire city together and reminded all Chicagoans how important it is to support our children," Emanuel said. "They created memories that will last a lifetime and nothing will take that away, and they showed the nation their character both on and off the field. The city remains united in its support of these great children and in our hearts, they will always be champions in Chicago."
Multiple Chicago mayoral candidates also offered their support. Candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said it is "sad" to see how harshly the Jackie Robinson West players were punished, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"The kids played their hearts out and did nothing wrong," he said.
Candidate Bob Fioretti said it is "unfortunate that the grown-ups didn't follow directions and now the team members are paying the price. In that, there is a lesson for all of us to play fair and follow the rules."
Jackie Robinson West became the first all-African-American squad to win the U.S. title at last summer's Little League World Series, beating Las Vegas before losing the international championship against South Korea.
After the LLWS, the team was honored by both of Chicago's teams, the White Sox and the Cubs. Two Chicago athletes, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester and Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs, tweeted support of the team on Wednesday:
"Story time, boys and girls: I used an address to go to Elk Grove High (CA) 40 miles away from my mother's house. Had I not, there's a good chance I wouldn't have made it to chicago. Still proud. Still my champs, JRW!," Briggs' full post reads.
- Molly Geary