'They were really blessed': Taney parents reflect on a wild ride

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter watches the Taney Little League team play Mountain Ridge (Las Vegas) in the Little League World Series in the courtyard of City Hall on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter watches the Taney Little League team play Mountain Ridge (Las Vegas) in the Little League World Series in the courtyard of City Hall on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. ( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )( YONG KIM / Staff Photographer )
Posted: August 23, 2014

It will undoubtedly still go down as one of the best weeks of their lives.

The Taney Dragons have walked around a stadium, treated like 5-foot-something baseball gods. They have spent afternoons playing ball, nights hanging out in dorm rooms with their best friends, and - to the extent they've realized it - energized an entire city watching them with high hopes back home.

"Seven thousand teams in the country - we finished third," said Steve Bandura, father of catcher Scott Bandura, after the 6-5 loss Thursday night. "We fought back. We always fight back."

Chicago's Jackie Robinson West, a fellow inner-city team that missed the series by a game last year, will compete for the national championship Saturday against an all-star Las Vegas squad.

"They had a good run. They were really blessed," said Quyen Shanahan, mother of outfielder Tai Shanahan.

The team, Philadelphia's first and only Pennsylvania's fifth to compete in the Little League World Series, walked off the field to a standing ovation from the heavily Mid-Atlantic crowd. Many of the players had erupted in tears at the final out. "Pick your head up!" Mark Williams, stepfather of Mo'ne Davis, called out.

"They're the third best in the country," Williams said. "That's nothing to cry about."

Davis leaves the series with one win, one loss, and a Sports Illustrated cover, and she gets to go back to the bed she said she has missed while on the road.

"They did well - they made too many errors and had too many missed opportunities on base," said Joe Richardson, father of pitcher Joe Richardson Jr. "But we didn't think we'd end up here. It's still been a dream ride."

The team parents, who have gotten to see their kids only for about an hour each day, will soon take them for a three-hour drive home to Philadelphia, hear stories from the week, and remind them again how proud they are.

Then, in a few weeks, the 12- and 13-year-olds will head back to school, where they will likely be lauded as heroes once more.


jterruso@phillynews.com856-779-3876

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