Yesterday, a spotty yet rambunctious group of a couple thousand fans watched an undersea-themed float, a Statue of Liberty-themed float, and a Delta Queen-themed float carry a bunch of children (and the Mayor) down Broad Street. The Taney Dragons Little League Team (and family and supporters) started their parade at 20th and Market and ended it at FDR Park with Mayor Nutter declaring yesterday Taney Dragons Day in Philadelphia. Afterwards, they were honored at Citizens Bank Park.
There was a lot of grumbling beforehand, talk saying the Taney kids didn’t deserve a parade because they didn’t win the whole thing. That, of course, didn’t stop a lengthly line from forming to get Erik Lipson’s autograph.
That also didn’t stop an off-duty Ben Franklin from cycling on over to scope it out:
The Taney team made it to the U.S. Semifinal, the first area team to make it that far since the team from Newtown Square finished in 3rd place in 1967 (a year where the U.S. title was also won by a team from Chicago). They were the first team from the city of Philadelphia to ever make the tournament, and along the way captured the enthusiasm of fans whose efforts were wasted on the Phillies. Sports fans and people who don’t care at all were wrapped up in the story of a multi-racial, inner-city team with a girl pitcher who threw the ball 70 m.p.h. Mo’ne Davis was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was called a “national treasure.” SportsCenter broke down the science of her delivery.
Davis and her teammates (including Kyle’s favorite, ZION SPEARMAN, holding a small child above) captured the attention of an entire city in the sports vacuum of late summer. In stretches, the parade was a total mob scene. At the first stopping point, in front of the Kimmel Center, it was nearly impossible to navigate the sidewalk and difficult to hear the Mayor speaking from the podium that was about twenty feet away. The chanting and cheering was nearly constant. At one point, summing up the whole parade, an accented woman asked no one in particular “What’s this for?” A passerby answered in her general direction, without ever slowing down, “LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES,” leaving the accented woman to ask to herself, “Statue of Liberty?”
No, they didn’t win. But if we throw parades for millionaires who aren’t from here when they win championships (and we definitely should), then we can throw a damn parade for a bunch of born and bred Philly kids, playing for the love of the game, who became the coolest story in sports. The Taney Dragons are Philadelphia, and they deserved to be honored.