John Kass

I'd been watching the game on my office TV. There was nothing showy about him, or sopping with emotion, there was no drama or buzz.


Nelson is old school.

He kept things inside, watching the boy swing the bat, watching him round third base, trotting home.

So with the team getting ready for the next round of tournament play this week, I reached out to him. I talked to his daughter, a Chicago police sergeant in the gang crimes unit. And she gave me her dad's cellphone number.

"It feels great," he said over the phone from Williamsport.


"I'm his No. 1 fan. I make most of the games," said Nelson, who lives in southwest suburban Alsip, about 15 minutes from Jackie Robinson Park.

His daughter insisted he make it to the tournament in Williamsport.

"I guess she had to push me to go," he said. "She was trying to push me to go ahead to be there for him because I've been there for him so much and she couldn't make it."


Are you glad she pushed you?


"Oh yes, I'm glad they pushed me now. I'm glad."

His grandson Pierce, who became the face of Jackie Robinson West, is a talented three-sport athlete. There's just something about the physically advanced athlete at that age. They're dominant. And some of the other boys their age haven't quite caught up yet.


Eventually, if they work hard and play hard, they'll catch up, but not this week.


"Well he was playing basketball and football, and he didn't want to get hurt playing football," Nelson said. "And he was good in basketball, but he loved baseball. So that's why he stuck with baseball. He just loves it."

Any worries about Sunday's game?

"Ahhhh, Sunday's no problem. The boys got all the confidence in the world. They've come a long with so much pressure on all of them, and I'm really proud of them. Even if they don't go all the way I'm proud."

Who wouldn't be?


There's nothing quite like being at a big youth sports tournament with your family. The kids run through the hotel corridors, and adults chatter nervously over coffee or in the hotel bar about the big games to come.


And there's nothing as big in youth sports in America as the Little League World Series.

The Jackie Robinson West team doesn't bring any baggage, except the luggage and the bat and equipment bags the kids lug across the field.

So for now, I prefer to watch them play, rather than fret over what's coming out of Ferguson, Mo., which for now at least is anger and politics without facts.


It is a tired rerun: The angry activists know what to say, and they'll say it again. The politicians equivocate as others have before, and the same for those who think police can do no wrong, and those who think police can do no right.


Others, both black and white, are so blinded by race that they can hardly see anything else.

But Little League baseball isn't scripted. And neither is Albert Nelson's joy at being able to watch his grandson play another game.

Play ball.