In honor of the 65th anniversary of when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, the Marian Anderson Monarchs, from South Philadelphia, joined to watch the Phillies play the Mets at the Citizens Bank Park last Sunday, April 15.
The Marian Anderson Recreation Center, located at 740 South 17th St. has various activities, workshops, programs and sports teams to provide an outlet for athletic achievement and a foundation of history.
One aspect of history the center focuses on is baseball history and how it connects to African-Americans.
Steve Bandura, program director, has been teaching a baseball history class in preparation for their “Anderson Monarch Barnstorming Tour.”
Bandura has led this tour since 1997, when the “Monarchs” conducted a 13-day tour around the country including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
This summer, from June 30 through July 22, the Monarchs will board a 1947 Flexible Clipper touring bus to take a 3,500-mile-journey across the country.
The team will play against local youth teams, visit historic sites such as the Negro League Baseball Museum and Jackie Robinson’s gravesite in Brooklyn and meet surviving players from the Negro Leagues.
“I’d always talk to kids about Jackie Robinson — we were often the only Black team playing in the leagues, there couldn’t be a better role model than Jackie Robinson,” Bandura said.
The Monarchs, a mostly African-American baseball team of 10- and 11-year-olds, are well-educated on the history of Robinson and Negro League baseball. The team was enthused to watch the Phillies play as both professional teams wore number “42” in honor of Robinson.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell helped to support the tour and the Phillies game outing.
Along with attending the Phillies game on Sunday, the Monarchs played against the Glendora Gladiators and Brandywine Blacksox Saturday morning — resulting in one win and one loss.
In preparation for their tour, the Monarchs are continuing to raise money for the trip.
One of their major sponsors is Dr. William C. Meyers. Meyers has contributed and has helped sponsored the trip through his practice Core Performance Physicians, located at 4623 South Broad St.
Bandura believes this tour will help bring recognition to African-American youth who are excelling in their communities.
“The first tour was to educate our kids on Jackie Robinson and Negro leagues,” he said. “This tour on the 65th anniversary I want to expose the country to these kids — I want them to see what’s possible for inner-city kids when given the opportunities and to refute myths of why African-American kids don’t want to play baseball.”