By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A youth baseball team out of South Philadelphia will spend the next three weeks combining sports with black history.
The Anderson Monarchs, based at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center and named after the Negro League baseball team out of Kansas City, will leave Philadelphia this evening and hit the road for a 23-day, 20-city tour that will cover more than 4,000 miles.
“This tour is a tribute to the civil rights movement and the people that sacrificed for us,” says Steve Bandura (below), coach of the Anderson Monarchs. He created the Barnstorming Tour in 1997 as a way to teach players on his team their civil rights history.
This is the fourth time he’ll take the ride. Joining him this year are 15-, 14-, and 13-year-old Monarch players, including Mo’ne Davis, star pitcher for the Taney Dragons (top photo, third from left in second row), who competed in this year’s Little League World Series.
The group will play 13 exhibition games against teams in a number of cities, visiting historic sites and meeting civil rights icons such as US congressman John Lewis and Major League Baseball legend Hank Aaron.
“It’s a chance for them to not just read about history, but it’s a chance for them to live it and touch it and meet the people that they’ve studied,” says Bandura.
To make the experience more realistic, he adds, the team will take the entire tour on a 1947 “Flxible Clipper” bus (below).
“No air conditioning, no bathroom,” Bandura notes. “This is what Negro League players did back in the day.” He adds that cell phones and other electronics will be banned throughout the entire tour. “I’ll be the only one updating Twitter and Facebook,” he says.
Other highlights of the tour will be a visit to the White House on Thursday, and a ceremonial march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Ala., the scene of a bloody civil rights confrontation fifty years ago.