You may never hear from Mo’ne Davis again. But even so, she and her teammates have already accomplished something amazing: They’ve taken back the name “Taney” from history’s shit list — Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the majority in the shameful 1857 Dred Scott decision which essentially declared that African-Americans were not people

By Theodore N. Beitchman

The Taney Dragons returned to Philly from Williamsport today to a heroes’ welcome.

Their Little League World Series ended a couple of games short of a championship, but Philly and the rest of country are so proud of these kids because they showed us what athleticism is meant to embody.

And, as an added benefit, they created a sliver of sunlight in a summer of so much gloom and doom that it’s easy to lose prospective of how good this story was, and on so many levels.

From a pure sports perspective, it was the story of the year. An inner city team excelling in the LLWS is rare enough, but one with a storybook 13-year-old pitcher who is a girl and African-American made it even better.

ESPN reported massive ratings for their game last Wednesday when they were finally beaten by another inner city team from Chicago. And we have reported on how much business Triple Play Sports rang up on Taney Dragon T-shirts.

“I’m not a racist,” was how someone started his question to me last Friday. “But if Mo’ne Davis weren’t black would she have made it on the cover of Sports Illustrated?”

I said yes, the story was so unusual that even a white girl from Taney would have made the cover; and I didn’t add that if you start a sentence with “I’m not a racist” then the results are already in on that.

Taney and the Jackie Robinson team from Chicago may have jump-started a reversal of the trend that has seen young African-American kids shying away from baseball in favor if other sports.

As Melissa Isaacson wrote ESPNW.com:

When several kids from the Taney baseball team went to a Cooperstown tournament last year as part of a Philadelphia contingent, the big news was that retired major league pitcher Pedro Martinez was bringing his Dominican Republic team to play.

But when the other teams saw the Philly kids, a virtual stampede ensued.

“They thought we were the Dominican team,” said Steve Bandura, who was coaching that group. “Then the first thing they asked us when they found out we weren’t the Dominican team was ‘What country are you from?’ Our players just thought it was funny.”

The Taney Dragons, one of eight U.S. teams in the Little League World Series, are only half of Philadelphia’s youth baseball story — it starts with Bandura introducing the sport to African-American kids and then Taney Baseball taking the passionate urban kids to an even higher level.

And leave it our friends at Deadspin.com, that ironic and eclectic site, to put an all-important twist on Taney:

You may never hear from Mo’ne Davis again. But even so, she and her teammates have already accomplished something amazing: They’ve taken back the name “Taney” from history’s shit list. In a wonderful stroke of ironic resonance, the name that now evokes a mixed-race, inner-city little league team that made a lot of people happy for a moment first belonged to the man who declared, on behalf of the United States, that African-Americans weren’t people.

The Taney Dragons take their name from South Taney Street, which runs alongside their ballfield on the bank of the Schuylkill River, on the overlapping fringes of Center City and South Philadelphia. And Taney Street itself, reports Ryan Briggs for Hidden City Philadelphia, is named for one of the most infamous men in the history of American race relations: Roger Brooke Taney, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the man who wrote the majority decision in the Dred Scott case.

…. Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857 was a monumental and monumentally shameful Supreme Court decision. Scott, a slave, had sued for his and his family’s freedom because his owner had taken him to free states and territories. By a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that African Americans, both slave and free, were not citizens, could never be citizens, and therefore did not even have the standing to sue.

So hat’s off to Mo’Ne and her Taney teammates for making and clarifying history and making us all proud!


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