The motion was effortless, compact and absent the herky-jerky movements that can gum up a pitcher’s mechanics.
Not that such faultless mechanics are unusual for a pint-size pitcher who plays with the passion of the bigger boys of summer. But such mechanics aren’t seen in a Black girl on a stage as bright as Little League baseball’s.
At least they hadn’t been seen until Sunday.
For in Bristol, Connecticut, Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl, pitched a team from urban Philadelphia to the Little League World Series. Davis held a team of boys from Delaware to three hits in an 8-0 win.
Girls have played in the World Series — which takes place in Williamsport, Pennsylvania — before. Girls have had performances that rivaled those of boys. But it would be easier to mine for gold than to find an example of a Black girl who performed as Davis did Sunday.
Afterward, even she seemed amazed.
“Crazy,” Davis said as the ESPN cameras focused on her athleticism, her brilliant brown eyes and her electric smile.
What she did wasn’t supposed to happen. No way. Not in the world of Little League Baseball, a sport where teams from the white suburbs have claimed ownership of every ticket that takes them to the World Series in Williamsport.
Little League was supposed to have left the big cities behind it.
But we know that’s fiction. We know it's not just because of Davis and her Taney Youth Little League teammates; we know it's because a team from the South Side of Chicago will be joining Philadelphia in Williamsport.
Getting there is a salute to men and women who won’t let baseball die in urban America. Yes, basketball and football reign, and that won’t change simply because of Mo’ne Davis and the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from Chicago.
It won’t change because Davis, whose best sport is basketball, pitched as if she were trained in the Little League factories of the more affluent communities. It will change, though, once other Black boys and Black girls, their parents, their guardians and their mentors see what Mo’ne Davis did, with the ESPN network broadcasting it nationally, as appealing to them.
For what she and her teammates did was showcase baseball in ways that haven't been seen in a while. The Taney team was fleet afoot; the Taney team was aggressive at the plate; and the Taney team was coached well.
So were the boys from Chicago.
They reminded us all of what baseball used to be. They showed us how much fun baseball can be to watch when boys and girls aren’t kicking the baseball around like a soccer ball.
No one can say how far Mo’ne and Taney, a melting pot of races, can go in Williamsport. No one can say how far the all-Black Chicago team can go. Both teams have to get through the U.S. draw, where they will see the affluent teams from the ’burbs on their path to a championship.
And even if they get to the title game, they will meet an international team from, oh, Japan, Venezuela or Mexico, places where baseball is as much a religion as it is a game.
All of that can wait a minute or two. It’s the future. In the present, Mo’ne Davis has us thinking about what a wonderful game this national pastime is and can always be.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Charles Krupa/AP Photo)
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