CHICAGO -- Wesley Wright didn't play Little League growing up in Montgomery, Ala., but the Cubs reliever did play what was called Dixie Ball. He remembers his parents driving him to games and tournaments all over the state.
Which is why Wright didn't hesitate to chip in money to help parents and friends of the Jackie Robinson West players go to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.
Wright, 29, joined the Rockies' LaTroy Hawkins, the Braves' B.J. and Justin Upton and the Tigers' Torii Hunter in donating money to cover travel expenses for many of the families.
"I felt that the kids worked so hard to get to that moment, the people they deserve to share it with is their family and friends," Wright said Thursday. "It was an easy sell for me. I'm glad they'll have their mom and dad and brothers and sisters there to cheer them on."
The Chicago Little League team will be the Great Lakes representative in the Little League World Series, which gets underway Thursday.
"They sent a 'thank you' video to us and some of the guys," Wright said. "It was pretty cool. I'm glad to be able to help. Hopefully they enjoy their time in Williamsport. Even if they don't win a game, I just hope they have a good time and it's lasting memories."
Wright said he was happy to see the community and the city rally in support of the team.
"It's a good thing for the community to see these young guys -- and in some cases girls -- playing ball and being a motivational tool on national TV for the rest of the kids back home to see they can do something positive," Wright said. "I think it's a great story overall. I'm sure that part of the city is excited and hoping they'll bring home a title."
Cubs players showed their support before Thursday's game by wearing T-shirts that said, "Cubs (heart) JRW."
Wright was in the weight room at Wrigley Field when the Jackie Robinson West team rallied to beat Indiana and advance to the World Series in the regional final. Rob Bufford, whose son, Cameron, hit a grand slam in that game, told the Chicago Tribune that if it weren't for last-minute donations from the pro players, they would have to watch the games from Chicago.
"It brought back a lot of memories for myself," Wright said of watching the kids.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.