Taney fever takes over City Hall courtyard

Posted: August 22, 2014

"I LOVE THIS CROWD," Mayor Nutter said.

The mayor was almost lost in the throng of at least 300 delirious Taney Dragons fans crowding bleachers set up in the City Hall courtyard to watch the game yesterday against Las Vegas on four TV screens.

Dressed down and wearing a Taney Dragons baseball cap, Nutter was as enthusiastic as everyone else, hanging on every pitch, cheering every deft move by their heroes and booing every bad call.

"We're seeing some great baseball," the mayor said, "excellent defense. This team has galvanized the city no matter who wins. It's all about effort."

And like everyone in the stands, he expressed the optimism of never-say-die Phillies fans. As the disastrous sixth inning unfolded, Nutter said, "We still have one more chance."

Just about anyone perched on the hard wood of the bleachers agreed.

One more chance.

It was not to be, but the noise from the stands never abated, not a hush of resignation or despair.

"There's a party going on right here!" a fan shouted.

Seated below the mayor were members of Mo'ne Davis' family, including her great-great-grandmother, Barbara Tilghman, no less enthusiastic for being in a wheelchair; great-grandmother Ardena Hill; and grandmother, Delores Washington, too youthful-looking to be a grandmother.

And the star attraction had to be Mo'ne's little sister, Mahogany, 6, already a ham, posing and waving when the photographers gathered around.

"I talked to Mo'ne today and she said her teammates were nervous, but she was ready," Washington said.

The family and a band of enthusiastic supporters, all wearing powder-blue shirts, crowded around banners proclaiming their love for the Dragons and, especially, Mo'ne.

They never let up in their rapturous devotion to their offspring, the pretty, placid, star of the night, fresh from national exposure on the cover of Sports Illustrated, even though she let in three runs and was taken off the mound in the third inning.

Nevertheless, every strike she hurled brought cheers from the crowd. Every time her calm face came on the screen in portrait-like close-ups, an almost audible sigh swept the crowd.

The crowd was not deterred by spurts of rain that soaked the fans before the game but quickly petered out.

It didn't stop Monty Gee, a large man who never seemed to tire from dancing and singing to music provided by his sound man, Eddie T, as he warmed up a crowd that didn't need much warming up.

Nor did it deter the Phillie Phanatic from doing his routine, which mostly involved grabbing people in his hairy embrace, and posing for pictures.

Greg Wilkinson, and his son, Silias, 11, from West Philadelphia, were in the anticipatory crowd.

"This is a great chance to get together and support the Philadelphia team," Greg said. "Win or lose, it's still great."

Scott Brockington, and his wife, Jacki, from Secane, surveyed the crowd and marveled at the support. "I hope they can pull it off," Scott said.

When Mo'ne took the bat in the fourth and she walked her way to first base, there were cries of "Move her to second!" But she and two other runners died on the bases and the rest was history.

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