Mo'ne Davis

Mo’ne Davis

by Bob Previdi

As a the late afternoon crowd gathered slowly at McMenamin’s Bar & Restaurant on Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy Friday, there was an anticipation in the air that felt a lot like the excitement of the US team during the recently completed World Cup in Brazil. But this time, the buzz at the bar this time was not for “Futbol” but for the 75th annual Little League World Series. This year featured a Philadelphia team for the first time ever, but even more exciting is its star, a 13-year-old girl pitcher who has quickly become a nationwide sensation.

Even before the first pitch of the Little League World Series was thrown, there has been so much local and national press that as bartender Kelly Meagher came to work she thought she might see some people in for the game. ESPN had been running interviews with Mo’Ne, and Friday morning the New York Times did a feature story on the South Philadelphia star, who attends Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

As the announcers started their broadcast, ESPN showed a graphic pointing out that it was only 180 miles to Williamsport, where so many teams that play in the international tournament come from as far away as Japan.

Some at the bar started to suggest maybe we should just drive out there. But that didn’t matter to Meagher. She was just excited to watch baseball that mattered. With the Phillies not playing up to expectations the playoff atmosphere at the bar was welcome.

“I can finally root for baseball again” she said.

As more and more people entered, you could tell from the chatter this was no ordinary baseball game. Was this history in the making? All we could do was watch, wonder and hope. Since this was Little League the talk around the bar was focused on pitch count. Games are only 6 innings long and the tournament requires any pitcher who has a pitch count of more than 65 pitches to have 4 days rest and Taney’s next game was Sunday, so everyone was hoping Davis could keep that pitch count below that. At the end of four innings, the pitch count was up to 44.

Fellow bartenders Eric Stewart was fascinated the scrutiny.

“We’re talking about her as if she is a pro,” he said.

Sitting at the bar, fans were shaking their head and laughing in disbelief at what was unfolding on the TV as Davis continued to baffle every batter who faced her.

“You watch her – she is cool and she’s not tired, this is incredible,” said Dickie Cobbs, of Mt. Airy.

Jim Dugan of West Philadelphia was tired and hungry after a long day at work when asked what brought him in. He got to work at 5 a.m. and on his way home saw others leaving work early with Mo’Ne shirts on. Because he hadn’t eaten lunch, he decided to head out to watch the game and grab a bite to eat.

A fellow Little League player, Alex McPhedran, of Mt Airy, came with his mother sat down for an early dinner and was glued to the TV in the back room. McPhedran plays for the Mt. Airy travel team and played against the Taney Dragons. He was excited to see the game and said his friend got to ride on the Taney bus with the team.

Helen Marter, of Chestnut Hill, admired the poise of the 13-year-old star.

“This was my life’s dream to be that girl,” she said.

At the end of the six inning game, Davis achieved the first Little League World Series shutout by a girl, 4-0. An impressive performance but a pitch count of 70, which meant she couldn’t pitch the next game on Sunday (an exciting 7-6, come-from-behind win by the Dragons).

In the end pitch count did not matter to the crowd gathered at the bar as they all cheered the final out. The team had put a smile on everyone’s face. There was winning baseball for Philadelphia after all.