News publications all over the United States, and the world are talking about Taney baseball.
The team was mentioned in a segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Mo’ne Davis was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And Davis, who has been compared to everyone from Allen Iverson to Clayton Kershaw, has become an instant celebrity appearing on television shows all over the country.
And this is all occuring because of a Little League team. How did it happen?
“The excitement in Philly and beyond Philly was really surprising,” Taney’s head coach Alex Rice told Metro. “It shouldn’t surprise me, but we didn’t really have a sense of it. Being up in Williamsport we were isolated, but we had parents telling us back home people were really excited. We didn’t really have a sense of the extent to which people were excited city wide.”
“I think the whole thing was just a really great experience,” 13-year-old Tai Shanahan said looking back at it all.
Tai’s mother, Quyen Shanahan was completely blown away by the exposure and the poise the team had under the national spotlight. It was as if the team, overnight, became a media sensation. In fact, their first loss last Wednesday drew more viewers on ESPN than any NBA regular season game in eight years on the network.
“I was really proud of all the players,” Shanahan said. “We were all, as parents, pleasantly surprised at how poised our children were. We knew that they loved baseball and they worked really hard to get here. We hope that they they would play well because there were teams being mercied and we hoped we would be one of those teams. We beat some great teams in Districts and States and Regionals, having them make it this far is a fantastic experience. I was really proud of Tai and all the other players.”
A Taney baseball t-shirt has quickly become one of the coolest things to wear in Center City, and stores have sold out of them left and right.
Even the Phillies themselves, once the baseball gods of the city joined in the act, with some players even hopping up to Williamsport to help inspire the kids.
“We met Ryan Howard in our dorms before the last game,” Tai Shanahan recalled, “he’s really nice.”
Philadelphia loves a good sports story. So it should be no shock that Taney gained traction in every corner of the city proper.
“That’s the best part I think,” Rice said. “I think there are a lot of things we succeeded in but that was one I didn’t see. But I feel really happy about it.”