Crawford Little League support pays off

MILWAUKEE -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford took the field Saturday night already feeling like a winner.

For the past year, Crawford has lent financial support to the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from the South Side of Chicago, even though Crawford has no ties to the area. When the team advanced to next week's Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., with a Saturday afternoon victory over Indiana in the Great Lakes Regional final, Crawford was beaming like a proud father.

The victory made up for Jackie Robinson West Little League's regional final defeat one year ago.

"Yeah, I just saw them on TV last year," Crawford said. "I just called to see if they needed anything, and I come to find out they needed a little help, so I just tried to help where I could. I've been rooting for them all year."

Crawford said he hasn't yet met any of the players but did talk to the team's coach Friday and wished everybody well.

"It feels good," Crawford said. "I didn't want to talk about it really until they won because last year they got to this point and they lost right at the end. We're hoping they can go all the way."

Crawford said his Dodgers teammates didn't even know about his support of the team until Saturday. He felt a kinship with the squad upon seeing it last year. It reminded him of his own all African-American youth team while growing up in Houston.

"It's very rare that you have this type of situation," Crawford said of the Jackie Robinson West team.

Since the Southern California team was eliminated from the West Regional, the Dodgers appear to have an adopted club to lay claim to now.

Crawford says he hopes he can meet some of the players when the Dodgers travel to Chicago for a Sept. 18-21 series at Wrigley Field.