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Mo'ne Davis, Taney Dragons honored by Phillies

Mo'ne Davis and the Taney Dragons were honored by the Phillies on Wednesday night.

PHILADELPHIA — The Taney Dragons didn't win the Little League World Series but they are still being treated like champions.

Six days after the Philadelphia team's run ended one game shy of the U.S. final with a 6-5 loss to Chicago they were honored back in their hometown.

The day began at 2 p.m. with a parade at 20th and Market Streets in Center City, with the team traveling on a float over an approximately 4-mile route that ended at FDR Park.

The festivities did not end there.

Before the Phillies took on the Washington Nationals, the team had the players and their families line up on 10th Street for a Leadoff Walk into Citizens Bank Park. The Phillie Phanatic led them down the outfield bleachers and onto a red carpet that led to the infield.

Once the team climbed aboard a podium on the infield, a highlight reel of Taney's run played on the scoreboard video screen. The video tribute was followed by remarks from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Taney coach Alex Rice.

Howard congratulated the team in his short speech and told the players to enjoy the evening.

"Take it in," said Howard. "Look around. All this is for you guys. You guys did something special."

Taney, the first Philadelphia team to go to the Little League World Series, then exited the podium and took a victory lap around the stadium before returning to throw out the first pitch. All 12 of the players threw simultaneous ceremonial pitches to members of the Phillies.

Rice, like most of his players, was in awe.

"When we first got to Williamsport we started the fall down the rabbit's hole there and I thought we started to climb back out, but today was just unbelievable," Rice said. "It was just so wonderful for the kids. I didn't fully realize the impact the kids had on the city and today was really terrific to see what the kids' summer had done for my home, for Philadelphia."

Of course, Mo'ne Davis, the team's star pitcher who made the cover of Sports Illustrated after becoming the first girl to earn a win as a pitcher at the Little League World Series, received the biggest ovation.

Even after everything she's been through the past few weeks, she admitted she's still not used to all the attention and had some jitters when she walked on to the field Wednesday.

"At first I was kind of nervous but, I mean, after a while it just went away," she said.

The 13-year-old threw her first pitch to Jonathan Papelbon. In talking with reporters when the Phillies were in San Francisco last week, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. compared her mechanics with Papelbon's but when Davis heard that in Williamsport she said she didn't want to be like him because he gives up runs.

Papelbon didn't hold that against her and actually gave her some advice, along with a signed baseball that was personalized for her.

"He told me that I had a lot of talent and to use that talent," she said.

With the frenzy surrounding Davis and the Taney Dragons coming to a close, the team is preparing to head back to school, which starts next week for many of the players.

In addition to school, Mo'ne said she'll be getting ready to play soccer and fall baseball.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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