Taney Dragons Notebook

Posted: August 17, 2014

10 a.m.

Taney's Erik Lipson Jr., a pitcher and first baseman, and his father arrive in a Hummer limousine at Gate 3 in time for practice.

Erik's sister, Victoria, was married the day before in Crystal Lake, Mich. Erik was the ring bearer and had been driven through the night to attend the ceremony.

The family had to leave during the reception to drive back to Williamsport.

Erik slept the whole way. His parents were not taking any chances.

"There was a spare tire strapped to the roof," said his mother, Stephanie. "Just in case."

11 a.m.

In the beginning, said Alison Sprague-Lott, whose son Jared plays shortstop, the parents expected to spend much of the summer driving around to games. But they never dreamed the commitment would morph into anything this complicated, serious and huge.

"I think it's going to be a pretty intense ending," she said. "Plus, they have to get their summer reading done."

When does school start?

"If I weren't a baseball mother," she said, "I could tell you."

12:30 p.m.

The team was herded away for lunch, leaving the parents to fend for themselves.

"Since they won the game Sunday night, our children have become the property of Little League International," said Keith Hendricks, whose son Jahli plays second base for Taney.

So they boarded a shuttle bus, then hiked up the hill toward the stadium.

Before they could enter, however, they had to pass through metal detectors and allow security guards to check all their belongings. Hendricks, a 45-year-old software consultant said he understands the need for caution. But at some point, it seemed a little extreme.

"I had to stand outside the gate and finish my coffee this morning before they would let me through," he said. And with his 2-year-old son, Khai, in his arms, Hendricks had to get Alex Rice, the team's manager, to meet him at a gate so that the guards would let him through with the baby's sippy cup of milk. The bug spray was also confiscated. So was the sunscreen.

2:45 p.m.

Three buses of fans from Philadelphia arrived in the stadium to find that they would have to scatter to find seats. People had come early to reserve prime spots to watch the storied team with the "It Girl" pitching.

Gov. Corbett sat two rows behind Mo'ne Davis' family, with a prime view of home plate. City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson found a spot closer to third base.

Throughout the stadium and out across the hills on the opposite side, a crazy quilt of spectators held up signs cheering for Taney, and especially for Mo'ne.

"Show me the Mo'ne!" read Jake Russo's poster. Russo, 13, an eighth grader who has played for Taney, said he is cheering for the entire team, but media-wise, made the sign in deference to Mo'ne's preeminence.

2:45 p.m.

"She ran from Elmo, now she's running the league!" read a sign requiring an explanation.

"When she was little, she was afraid of characters," explained Mo'ne's mother, Lakeisha McLean, life-sized cartoon characters at birthday parties and Sesame Place used to terrify her.

3 p.m.

Mo'ne's ascendance to the mound at the World Series also drew Priscilla Sands, president of Springside/Chestnut Hill Academy, where Mo'ne is an honor student.

"Six months ago," Sands said, "nobody knew this was going to happen."

At school, although Mo'ne is recognized as a star athlete, she said, "you would never pick her out of the crowd as anything other than an eighth grader, motoring through."

She could have said more, but at that moment the players ran out onto the field. The crowd roared. Game on.

5 p.m.

It is the bottom of the sixth inning. Taney is beating Tennessee 4-0. The opponents have two outs.

The team has played beautifully, with few moves to regret.

"This is an incredibly intimidating stage to play on," says Pam Rice, whose husband, Alex, is the team's manager.

Cameramen from ESPN and a variety of other stations have moved into place, aiming their lenses on Mo'ne's family, prepared to catch the rapture on their faces when the Taney Dragons win.

And they do.


mdribben@phillynews.com215-854-2590

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