Chicago team to face South Korea for championship

It’s the final showdown.

At 3 p.m. today. Great Lakes Region champion Jackie Robinson West from Chicago, Illinois, takes on the Asia-Pacific Region champ from Seoul, South Korea, to determine which is the top team in Little League Baseball’s world.

Both teams have worked hard to get to today’s game, though they’ve had very different journeys on the way.

The Seoul team has yet to be defeated during the tournament and took a commanding lead over Japan in Saturday’s international championship game. Jackie Robinson West had a tough loss to the West’s Mountain Ridge team from Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier in the Series, but brought its A-game when the two faced off again in the U.S. final and won the right to the championship game.

But before the teams take to the diamond this afternoon, Lamade Stadium will host an on-field celebration in honor of the 75th anniversary of Little League featuring a host of former players.

On deck for the day, Mike Mussina, of Montoursville, will be honored and inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Members of 1939 Original Little League teams and players from the 1947 Little League World Series will join players from the 1955 Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars, the 1960 Berlin team, the 1964 Staten Island World Series champions and the 2004 World Series champions from Curaco.

Mussina began his baseball career in Little League and played in Montoursville when he was 10 years old. His career culminated in pro ball, where he played for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. His enshrinement into the Hall of Excellence will kickoff today’s festivities.

The returning teams represent crucial moments during Little League’s 75-year existence.

In 1955, the the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars became the first Little League team in South Carolina to have African-American players. In that season, the other 61 teams comprised of all-white players refused to play Cannon Street. After a ruling from league officials in Pennsylvania saying that if the teams refused to play they would not be able to compete in the Little League tournament, every white team withdrew from the league, leaving Cannon Street YMCA as the only legal team in the state. While it left Cannon Street ineligible to compete, Little League officials brought the team to Williamsport for the Series and hosted the boys as guests. The issue brought racial integration to the forefront for the Little League franchise.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its win, the 1964 Staten Island team is the only championship team from New York City. The team won all 13 of its games in the then single-elimination tournament to clinch its title. Following its win, the team had its own ticker-tape parade in Manhattan’s Canyon of Heroes. The last time the full team reunited was in 1999 when players were inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame.

The 1960 Berlin team became the first team from Europe to play in the Series, though the team was comprised of American children.

Appearing 10 years after its victory, the Curaco team will reunite with Major League players Jurickson Profar and Jonathan Schoop, both former team members.

The Uptown Music Collective will perform during the celebration ceremony.