Monarchs end 19-day, 4,000-mile trek bearing gifts and memories

Posted: July 22, 2012

So late Wednesday night, the trip ended. The Monarchs came home to Philadelphia.

What a trip it was.

Forget all the cultural experiences and think about just the baseball for a moment.

The Anderson Monarchs baseball team, 15 10- and 11-year-olds from South Philadelphia, saw eight Major League Baseball games on their 4,000-mile barnstorming trip around the country. And in the eight pro games the Monarchs watched, the home team went undefeated.

More teams are going to want the Monarchs to visit.

Were the Monarchs ready to get home, to get out of the heat, to get off their 1947 un-air-conditioned bus? Many of them but not all.

Many can't believe it's over so fast, 19 days. And what's more fun than hotel pools, big-league ballparks, being interviewed by the media, being with your best friends in the world, riding miles after miles on a bus and arguing over who is better at shortstop, Jimmy Rollins or Troy Tulowitzki, and playing Uno, and eating lots of pizza and hot dogs and hoagies? But end it must.

Though the memories will last a lifetime.

They met dozens of players most kids see only on television. They met and played against peers from big cities and small towns. They saw lots of cornfields and cows. They collected lots of loot - T-shirts, hats, souvenirs.

Most of the Monarchs said Pittsburgh's ballpark was their favorite, down in the city, on the river, the skyline in their face. Many also said their favorite stop was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they received their grandest welcome from the community.

Their mission in part was to re-create the experience of Negro Leagues ballplayers from the 1940s. But these Monarchs felt nothing but love and support. It has been 65 years since Jackie Robinson broke modern baseball's color barrier.

While the kids loved the experience, the fathers and coaches and volunteers made it possible, especially Jay McGee, the bus driver, and Tom Murphy, the mechanic, who kept the 1947 Flxible Clipper safely on the road for nearly 4,000 miles.

They came home Wednesday night, but only for a few days. There is a coda. On Sunday, they were headed up to Cooperstown, to the baseball Hall of Fame, for one more game, one last hurrah. Then, alas, they've got to start eating vegetables again.


Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or mvitez@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @michaelvitez.

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