'A good day to stay in the neighborhood'

Life goes on in Chicago while the city awaits NATO summit

May 19, 2012

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(WBEZ/Linda Lutton)
As world leaders gathered in Chicago, Bridgeport 4-year-olds played ball. "It's a good day to stay in the neighborhood, definitely," said T-ball coach Chris Rewers.
(WBEZ/Linda Lutton)
(WBEZ/Linda Lutton)

The world’s leaders might be gathering on the lakefront and downtown, but in the neighborhoods, it almost felt like a normal, summery Saturday.

There was a classic game at McGuane Park, in Bridgeport. On Field 4, the Cubs faced off against the White Sox, just like they do every Saturday morning. (Those are actually the only two teams in this T-ball league for 4- and 5-year olds.)

The players are so little they’re not sure where to run once they knock the ball off the T. Each hit produces a giant pile-up of fielders.

Sox coach Rocco Pesole whispers to me: "It’s a little bit of a secret, but we don’t really keep score." Nor do they count outs. Everybody bats. They try to get through two or three innings per game.

Pesole calls Chicago the best city in the world, but as he helps his son, Rocco Pesole II, put on his cleats, Pesole says he's not really happy we're hosting the summit.

"I think it puts a target on our city."

In the other dugout is the Cubs coach, Chris Rewers. That right there requires some explaining in Bridgeport. "In this neighborhood — this is Sox country — a lot of the kids had problems being with the Cubs. But we need to field two teams," says Rewers. He leads them in a cheer, all their little hands in the middle. Go Cubs!

Rewers says he plans to stay far away from downtown this weekend. "It's a good day to stay in the neighborhood, definitely."

But Rewers is thinking about the summit and all that’s going on around it  His brother is a police officer. "As far as all the demonstrations and stuff, I just want cooler heads to prevail. I just want everyone to stay safe on both sides of it, you know? We can all get along."

The wise words of a Sox fan wearing a Cubs jersey.

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