It’s always good for young people to know the history of the game. This way they have a chance to learn about the sacrifices and the people who have paved the way for them to play the games they enjoy so much.
The Anderson Monarchs, a 10-11-year old baseball team from the Marian Anderson Recreation Center near 17th and Fitzwater Streets, will take its team on a barnstorming tour across the country in an effort to pay tribute to Negro League baseball and Jackie Robinson. Steve Bandura, Monarchs head coach, organized this trip, which will give the kids a chance to play baseball, learn the history, meet Major League players and Negro League stars. The team will ride across country in a 1947 Flxible Clipper bus, just like the ones Negro League players rode on.
The journey will take 22 days and cover 4,000 miles. Bandura knows this will be quite a trip for these youngsters.
“This year is the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line and breaking into the majors (with the Brooklyn Dodgers),” Bandura said. “We’re going to take the 1947 bus just like the Negro League players. It’s an authentic bus. It’s awesome. It’s a really cool concept.
“We’ll be playing 17 games over 20 some days. We’ll be playing a mix of teams. We’ll be playing some RBI programs and suburban all-star teams. Major League Baseball and Vincera Core Physicians are sponsoring the trip. We really appreciate the support from them.
“This is a big year. It’s Jackie Robinson’s 65th anniversary. It’s also the 50th anniversary of Buck O’Neil becoming the first Black coach in the majors. The kids will be able to learn more about the history of the game. When we go to towns where major league teams [are] we’re going to be on the field meeting African American players and the players from both teams. When we go to New York we’ll meet Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia.”
The Monarchs have a terrific pitcher who is girl, Mo’ne Davis. She will meet another famous pitcher on this trip.
“When we go to Washington, D.C., we’re going to have Mo’ne meet Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, who pitched in the Negro Leagues,” Bandura said. “She played for the Indianapolis Clowns. I just spoke to her last week. She’s going to come out and throw the first pitch. After that, we’re going to the Lincoln Memorial that night where Marian Anderson gave a concert.”
Davis is really excited about making the long trip and going to a number of historic places.
“It’s going to be fun,” Davis said. “I’m going to have a lot of learning on the tour to see what the whole country is about.”
In addition to Davis, teammates Sami Wylie and Terrence Rainey, both outfielders, are looking forward to the various stops along the way.
“I can’t wait to go to Kansas City because of the all-star game and the home run derby,” Wylie said. “Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers) is my favorite player. I met him when the Dodgers came here (to play the Phillies). He’s a good player.”
“I’m looking forward to going around to the different states and meeting the players,” Rainey said. “I can’t wait for the Home Run Derby in Kansas City. The bus is going to be hot. We won’t have any air conditioning. But I’ll be with my teammates and they’re family.”
The tour will begin on June 30 in New York City. After that, they will go to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Dyersville (Iowa), Kansas City, Columbia (Mo.), St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, South Point (Ohio), Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Cooperstown (N.Y.). Aside from New York and Washington, D.C., the big stops will be Pittsburgh, where they’ll meet Josh Gibson’s great grandson, Sean Gibson. Then there’s the MLB All-Star Game in KC and the final stop in Cooperstown, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The entire tour will end on July 23.
This isn’t the first barnstorming trip for the Monarchs. Bandura put together a tour in 1997, which was the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s trailblazing efforts in baseball. That team opened the doors for this year’s club in terms of the ground breaking accomplishments for inner city kids playing baseball.
“The first team had to deal with a lot more than we do now,” Bandura said. “Things are a lot different than they were 15 years ago from my perspective with our teams here. Every generation is getting a little bit better. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than it was.
“But this group that we have now I wanted to do the tour with them. Our teams are competing at a higher level than we’ve ever competed at. We had three teams last year in the Department of Recreation A League that won championships not only in baseball, but in basketball and soccer as well. In fact, this team that’s going on this tour has the same roster for all the sports.”
Bandura has made some huge strides in getting more African Americans and youngsters in general playing baseball in the city. It’s not all about baseball for these youngsters. The kids who have played with the Monarchs go on to play college baseball and receive a good education. The field at the recreation center has a number of retired jerseys from several kids who played for the Monarchs.
This group has already benefited from a good foundation. Moreover, the Monarchs are creating a greater awareness through social media. Bandura is hoping people will follow them on this latest tour.
“We have a big push with our social media campaign,” Bandura said. “We’re doing a video and it’s called “Get on board with the Anderson Monarchs.” By getting on board, we mean our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @AndersonMonarch. If you do that, you’ll get updates every day. You’ll get video highlights, pictures, kids blogging at each step and daily updates. This should be a great trip for everybody.”
NOTES: The Monarchs roster includes the following players: Nasir Jackson, Darius Isaac, Demetrius deRamus, Tyree Sheard, Myles Eaddy, Sami Wylie, Scott Bandura, Tamir Brooks, Brandon Gibbs, Femi Awodesu, Mo’ne Davis, Terrence Rainey, Alex Johnson, Jahli Hendricks and Cole McNeil.
Mo’ne Davis is only girl on boys team
Mo’ne Davis was never into dolls and dance class. Her mother tried everything to pique her interest, until everyone around her would soon realize she was a born athlete.
Davis, 10, was spotted one day by Steve Bandura, program director at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia three years ago playing football with her older brother and cousins.
“There she was throwing this football in perfect spirals, effortless and running these tough kids down and tackling them,” he said.
Bandura introduced himself to her and invited her to a basketball practice at the center where they were working on the complicated “three man weave” drill. He suggested she watch the practice but Davis decided she would participate.
“Her eyes were just glued on the drill and when it came time for her turn she went through it like she has been doing it a thousand times,” he said. “I just knew right then.”
Davis became Bandura’s best basketball player and excelled in baseball and soccer as well. The team at the center consists of one team, that plays basketball, baseball and soccer in the different seasons. Davis not only stands out as an excellent player — she is the only girl on the team.
With sponsors and Bandura’s help, Davis transferred to Springside School, a private all-girls school in Chestnut Hill.
Davis’ mom Lakeisha McClean is happy with where her daughter attends school and is grateful to Bandura and the Marian Anderson Recreation Center.
“It changed a lot of things for her,” she said.
Davis loves sports and is glad she has been exposed to baseball and soccer.
“If it wasn’t for Marian Anderson, I probably wouldn’t have learned how to play baseball or soccer,” she said.
McClean had no idea her daughter was such an athlete. She was surprised to see her daughter skilled at a variety of sports.
Davis plays pitcher, shortstop and third baseman for baseball, mid-fielder for soccer and is the point guard for the basketball team.
In all three sports she has dominated the game and been a major asset to the team winning city championships this past year.
Davis shows a dedication and a sacrifice that goes way beyond her years. She gets on the bus every morning at 6:15 a.m., in order to travel to Springside School and then goes to the recreation center for either practice or games.
“If I want to go somewhere, I have to work around her schedule,” McClean said. “But she doesn’t complain, she really loves it.”
Davis’ favorite sport may be basketball, but her pitching capabilities causes her opponent teams to be stunned.
Jesse Balcer, the coach of the Fox Rox Baseball Club, played against the Marian Anderson “Monarchs” for the past few years and continues to be impressed with Davis’ talent.
“The first time we played them I remember looking and wondering why this baseman had a pink glove,” Balcer said. “Then I looked closer and thought wait a minute, that’s not a boy it’s a girl!”
Davis continues to impress those around her with her work ethic. She feels it’s important for all girls to stay active.
“When you actually go outside and start to play, you start to really enjoy it,” Davis said.
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.”
Marian Anderson Recreation Center team taught lessons of sport’s greats
Steve Bandura, program director at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philadelphia, believes it is important to teach Black baseball history to the kids in his program.
Baseball has become a key sport at the recreation center. Bandura holds a weekly class on Friday nights to educate the kids on the history of baseball as it connects to African-American history.
The class is in preparation for its “Anderson Monarch Barnstorming Tour.”
Since 1997 – the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball “color line” playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers – the Anderson Monarchs have toured across the country to play local youth teens in addition to visiting various historic sites. The Monarchs are scheduled to tour again this summer.
“In order to put the Negro Leagues and Jackie Robinson's historic accomplishment in context, the kids need to understand everything that led up to those points in history,” Bandura said. “Just teaching about Jackie doesn't give them an idea of why circumstances were the way they were and why it was such a great achievement.”
Bandura prepares each class with the goal to cover a particular period of time. The group gathers each week sitting in rows of chairs in a large room at the recreation center.
Bandura shows a presentation that consists of facts, video clips, pictures and various documentaries. He presents Ken Burns’ Documentary “Baseball” as a good guideline to his team.
Each week, the parents alternate, which one or two of them will collaborate to provide food and drinks for the kids.
Of those parents is Donna Deramus, mother of 10-year-old Demetrius who plays for the Monarchs. Deramus is pleased with the history class and feels her son is gaining a lot from the class.
“I really think for the kids it’s a great opportunity for them to go back and see how it actually started,” she said. “I think it will make them better for playing the game.”
Deramus noted the parents all have a close relationship with one another. The team works as a second family and she feels the class is excellent for their education.
Demetrius attends Independence Charter School and Deramus believes his involvement at Marian Anderson has helped him stay focused with his academics.
The first classes began with uncovering the history of baseball in the 19th Century and the first pioneers of the game.
The class provides opportunity for discussions such as the hypocrisy of the North pushing for civil rights in the South, while still refusing the Black team the Philadelphia Pythians, participation in their league, according to Bandura.
As Bandura went through his presentation he posed questions in the form of a trivia game to keep his team entertained. Hands raised eagerly as the kids competed to answer the questions to what they’ve learned.
In the future, Bandura plans to engage the kids with more films as they enter the era of the 20’s and 30’s and will introduce famous players such as Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Buck O’Neil, Satchell Paige and Josh Gibson.
As they enter the era of World War II, Bandura will show films The Tuskegee Airmen and The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson.
Bandura and the team at Marian Anderson believe knowing one’s history is essential to excelling.
“By the time we embark on our tour in July and visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and meet former Negro League players, the kids will have a solid database of knowledge to draw from,” he said.
South Philadelphia natives Darius Madison and Demetrius Jennings are no strangers to hard work. Upon receiving full scholarships to college, the dedicated teenagers keep strict schedules in order to pursue their goals of becoming professional athletes.
Madison, 17, is a senior at La Salle College High School, a private school located in Wyndmoor and is a major asset to the varsity soccer team. Madison plays forward and has been playing soccer since he was three years old. He has been an all around athlete playing basketball and baseball, but in ninth grade he decided he would solely devote his time to soccer.
Madison’s soccer journey began at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center where he played with program director Steve Bandura’s team, the Monarchs.
After playing with the Monarchs, Madison went on to play for the Penn Academy Athletic Association. He then played for the Philadelphia Soccer Club (PSC) Cobra team which led up to his opportunity to play for a U.S national team in Florida in his sophomore year. It was spring of 2010, when Madison was picked to play in the U.S Soccer’s Residency Program at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Florida. When he returned, he continued to play for the PSC and then trained with the MLS Philadelphia Union over the following summer.
Charles Madison, his father, feels his son’s accomplishments in soccer are a result of his perseverance.
“He is a self-motivated individual,” Charles said. “Once he makes up his mind and says what he wants to do, he usually gets the job done.”
Madison was later invited to attend the “Trofeo Scopigno Tournament” in Rieti, Italy. While competing he was awarded the “Golden Boot Award,” an award given to the player who has scored the most goals. He played in Italy on two separate occasions.
“It was a great experience — the second time I played it was on national television and I had a great game,” Madison said.
Madison’s grandmother, Mel Madison, lives across the street from the Marian Anderson Recreation Center and believes the center was a great start for him.
“Darius is a good kid,” she said. “The center has had a big impact on him.”
La Salle College High School won the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship this past November with Madison scoring the winning goal.
In the school’s video clip of the game, Coach Bob Peffle said this about Madison’s winning goal: “Special players do special things, and that is a shot that only few people do — and you thank God you have him on your side.”
Jennings, 18, nicknamed “Meaty,” has shown similar devotion throughout the years and has made his way to becoming a key baseball player.
Jennings is a senior at William Penn Charter School, a private school located at 3000 West School House Lane.
Jennings was picked to play on the varsity baseball team beginning in his eighth-grade year. He also got his start at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center.
He started playing baseball at five years old and then played for the center’s in-house recreation league.
As he got older he played for the Philadelphia Senators National Team. He moved from South Philadelphia to Sewell, New Jersey when he was 12 years old and played baseball there until he joined the Philadelphia RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner cities) team with Bandura.
Jennings has made his mark both on the field and off. Along with receiving honorable mentions in baseball, he is an honor student at Penn Charter and serves as the Community Council Senior on his school’s council board.
“That is a high position, and a lot of kids look up to him,” said Dave Jennings.
Dave, father of Demetrius Jennings, has coached with Bandura at the Marian Anderson Recreation center. He has found it to be a great place to guide kids in both sports and academics.
“It’s one of the best things a parent can do for their kids,” Dave said.
Jennings and Madison met at Marian Anderson and have been friends since. Although they have gone their separate ways in schools and sports, they have their determination to succeed in common.
“I think me and Demetrius set a great example for kids that come out of this area,” Madison said. “It shows there is hope, and you can make it in other ways.”
Jennings also believes his start at Marian Anderson was beneficial to his future.
“Marian Anderson was something for me to do so I don’t get caught up in the streets,” Jennings said.
Jennings believes Marian Anderson and Penn Charter have taught him to balance school and baseball, and he will take those practices with him to college.
Both Madison and Jennings received full scholarships to attend college. Among other offers, Madison received a full scholarship to play soccer at the University of Virginia. He has committed to UVA and will attend in the fall. Among Jennings’ offers, he has committed to attend Wofford College with both a full academic and baseball scholarship. Jennings plans to study medicine.
As Madison and Jennings finish up their senior year, they continue to keep each other updated on their successes.
Parents and South Philadelphia residents gathered at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center for the kick-off of the Monarchs’ basketball season. The 9-and-under team and the 13-and-under team played their first games of the season last Thursday night.
The Monarchs played their home game at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center located at 740 South 17th Street. Parents from both teams cheered on their players as they hustled on the court.
In the first game, the nine-and-under team, which competes in the 10-and-under division, played a tight game against the Juniata Park Boys and Girls Club.
It was a close game, but the Juniata Park Boys and Girls Club beat the Monarchs with a final score of 16 to 15. The second game, the 13-and-under Monarchs played against the Deni Playground of Frankford, and lost 31 to 23.
The 13-and-under team also competed against a higher division, competing against 14-and-under teams. Although both teams lost their first game, Steve Bandura, program director for Marian Anderson, believes they played very well.
“By playing against older competition, we’ll benefit and improve whether we win or lose,” Bandura said.
Charles Jackson, father of 10-year-old Nasir, is happy his son plays basketball for the Monarchs. The 10-and-under team already had their first game the week before. Nasir has played on the team since he was five, and Jackson believes the team has provided him with another family.
“These kids — they really stick together,” he said.
Jackson works in the neighborhood and learned of the center by walking by it one day. He decided to bring his son to see what the center was all about.
The players shook hands at the close of each game, and the parents greeted their players to congratulate them for hustling on the court.
The three divisions of the Monarchs basketball team had a lot of success last season, all winning city championships in the “Northeast Peanut League Basketball.”
“We’ve got a great group of kids and a great group of parents,” Bandura said.
Rahsaan Price, father of two, felt it was a good first game despite the team’s loss. His son Justin, 12, plays on the 13-and-under team and his daughter Sasha, 9, plays soccer and basketball there as well. Price himself has attended the center since he was a child.
“It’s a great program — I’ve seen it nurtured over the years,” Price said. “In this neighborhood there really wasn’t a lot to turn to.”
Although the game did not end in the Monarchs’ favor, the team kept their heads high and will practice hard for their next game this Thursday.
Steve Bandura is a person who truly cares about the kids in this city. Bandura founded the Anderson Monarchs, an inner city youth baseball team, named for the legendary Negro League team the Kansas City Monarchs for which Jackie Robinson played for prior to breaking the color line in Major League Baseball.
A year ago, the Monarchs completed a barnstorming tour across the country in an original 1947 bus to pay tribute to Negro League Baseball. Bandura was recognized by the USA Network and Comcast for this exploit as well as others. He was among the 10 winners selected for the 2013 Characters Unite Award. He was presented with this award at a ceremony on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. The award was given to him for his efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination. He was presented with a $5,000 grant from USA Network and Comcast. He will be featured on-air in a public service announcement and online at charactersunite.com.
Bandura is a coach and recreation leader of the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation and director of Philadelphia Youth Organization. He knows this award is fantastic, but for Bandura it wouldn’t be possible without the kids.
“I’m honored by this award,” Bandura said. “It’s great. But all I did was give the kids the opportunity. They’re the ones who have accomplished everything. They’ve broken down barriers and have shown people something they’ve never seen before. They did all the work. That’s why I feel like this award is more for them then it is for me.”
Baundura started coaching youngsters in South Philadelphia in 1989. At that time, there were no organized athletic teams for neighborhood kids. Moreover, there wasn’t a single African American in the city leagues. Bandura certainly wanted to make a difference in the community.
He gave up his marketing career and started serving as a full-time coach, motivator and integrator with the Philadelphia Youth Organization. Through this nonprofit organization that provides athletic and academic programs to boys and girls from the city, he has been able to make a huge impact in the lives of many youngsters.
In 1998, he started the Philadelphia Stars Baseball Club, comprised of five white, five Latino and five African-American eight year old players from different neighborhoods across the city. The idea was to bring different players together on common ground — the baseball diamond — expose them to kids from other races and cultures. The original Stars’ players, now in their 20s, remain extremely close today.
Raheem Mapp is one of Bandura’s former players. Today Mapp is the administrative/video coordinator for the Temple men’s basketball program. He was excited about Bandura receiving this prestigious award.
“Steve Bandura is an amazing man,” Mapp said. “He’s a selfless person. He definitely deserves this honor. He’s a man who has given a lot of opportunities to kids that may not have had the opportunity in the area we came up in South Philly. Now, it’s expanded to all over the city. Everything that comes to him he deserves ten fold. It all shows that all the players who have come through his program and have been under his mentorship have turned out to be pretty good people and pretty successful people in the area as well. There are a lot of young that he’s done good work with that are going to better men down the road.”
Bandura’s kids have gone on to win city championships in baseball, basketball and soccer as well as going onto higher education. He has developed a good foundation for many youngsters in this urban community.