PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The youth baseball team whose star 13-year-old female pitcher and performance in the Little League World Series drew a wide following received a champion’s treatment in a parade Wednesday in downtown Philadelphia.
Thousands of office workers and city residents lined a major thoroughfare to cheer on the Taney Dragons and their pitcher Mo’ne Davis, who made it onto the cover of Sports Illustrated.
“A lot of people were here,” Mo’ne told WPVI-TV after the parade. “I didn’t think that many people would be here, but it was nice.”
Manager Alex Rice told reporters Wednesday that he was thrilled with the tremendous support the team received at the parade.
“It was very impressive,” Rice said. “Who turned out is what I’m so taken aback by. You start in town with office workers and it just got better and better as it went down Broad Street.”
The Dragons represented the mid-Atlantic region in the World Series. They won their first two games before being eliminated by eventual U.S. champion Jackie Robinson West from Chicago and the Las Vegas’ Mountain Ridge.
Mo’ne became the first female pitcher to win a game in the series’ 68-year history, and her last start drew record-setting TV ratings for the series.
“They did a good job of bringing the city together,” said Jerome Belo, 55, who on a day off made it a point to be on hand to watch the start of the parade. “They took the focus off the negative in the city.”
The city has been scarred this summer by a number of tragedies, including the deaths of four children in a rowhouse fire and the deaths of a mother and her three young children in an accident caused by carjackers. Philadelphia has also been struggling to cope with a school funding crisis.
Others at the parade, like 49-year-old Eleanor White, said the team was able to bring the city together through their play on the field and the parade itself.
“You have all different walks of life, you have all cultures together,” said White as she walked along the parade route on Market Street. White added that she was “speechless” and was brought to tears by the emotion of the day.
The team traveled about four miles by float from the downtown business district to a park in south Philadelphia for a rally. Musical performances were held along the route.
The Philadelphia Phillies also planned to host a pre-game tribute to the team at Citizens Bank Park.
After the team was eliminated last week by Chicago, it received a hero’s welcome by the city on Sunday as they were greeted by cheering crowds in Love Park.
The last parade the city hosted to honor a sporting accomplishment was held in October 2008 after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series.