Local little leaguers return from Negro League tour

PHILADELPHIA - July 25, 2012

"It was a lot of work, but it was really worth it," said Steve Banura.

Steve Bandura is talking about a summer trip the Anderson Monarchs will never forget.

As Head Coach of the 10 and 11 year old Marian Anderson Recreation Baseball Club in South Philadelphia, he took his team on a refurbished 1947 bus and toured the country playing little league teams in locations as far west as Iowa.

The point was to give the youngsters an idea of what it was like to play in the Negro Leagues when Major League Baseball was still segregated.

Corporate sponsorships helped make the tour a reality, and it included a few opportunities to attend a few big league games.

The Cleveland Indians even let them on the field to stretch with the team before a game.

"It was a really fun trip," said Myles Eaddy. "It was like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Most kids won't ever get to do this."

One of the other highlights was meeting 76 year old Mamie "Peanut" Johnson during a stop in Virginia.

Mamie is the only woman ever to pitch in the Negro Leagues, with 33 wins and only 8 losses, for the Indianapolis Clowns in the early 1950's.

And nobody was more thrilled to meet Mamie than the Monarchs ace pitcher, a lovely young lady named Mo'ne Davis.

"She was like an older version of me pitching in the Negro League, so maybe I will pitch in the Major Leagues one day," Mo'ne said.

Before you dismiss Mo'ne's dream, consider that she helped lead her team to an overall record of 30 wins with only 13 losses for the season, and that includes going 9-4 during their national tour.

And like all other great baseball stories, this story is not just about baseball. In the words of Jackie Robinson, "a life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives."

"It's great to be a part of these life long memories that they will have, and my hope is that they will turn around when they're older and give that to some other kids," said Bandura.

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