Washington, D.C., and the Nationals provided a history lesson and hospitality for Mo'ne Davis and South Philadelphia's Anderson Monarchs Baseball Club on the first stop of their historic 23-day, 21-city, 4,000-mile journey visiting major civil rights landmarks of the 20th century.
Setting off in their very own 1947 Flxible Clipper Bus -- a nod to the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball -- the Monarchs arrived in the nation's capital on June 17, and stopped on Capitol Hill to meet with Georgia congressman John Lewis, who shared stories of his time as the youngest of the "Big Six" civil rights leaders of the early 1960s in the Deep South. He talked about his role as a Freedom Rider, organizing non-violent protests, and the iconic Selma to Montgomery marches.
The Clipper pulled up at 1500 South Capitol Street in time for big league batting practice, but the weather did not cooperate, forcing the Monarchs to take shelter under the grandstand in the indoor batting practice tunnels. This proved to be a blessing in disguise, as one National after the other came down from the clubhouse during the delay to meet with the team and coaches. Denard Span came first, followed by Ian Desmond. Before the skies cleared, Michael Taylor, Anthony Rendon, Joe Ross, Blake Treinen, Drew Storen and Matt Williams each shared a moment with the young players.
Autographs were signed, batting gloves were given out, and the Monarchs' center fielder even walked away with a piece of lumber from Taylor. How'd he get so lucky? All he had to do was ask. Just before the game's first pitch, the squad stood behind home plate as the Nationals' crowd recognized them with a nice ovation.
The following day, the Monarchs visited the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. They toured the facility, and learned about the youth programs. The Monarchs capped their visit with a game against the DC Knights, a team made up of D.C.-area youth, before hitting the road.
As they took the field for warmups, both teams were greeted with a big surprise: a smiling Max Scherzer was there to chat with them. They peppered the Nats' ace with questions about everything from where he likes to eat barbecue to how he throws his change-up. With a wide smile, Scherzer answered each question. He then spent a few innings in both dugouts, chatting with the players, and paying special attention to the pitchers in between innings. Maybe he learned something on the visit, too -- his no-no came the following day.
The Nationals and the Youth Baseball Academy were honored to have the Monarchs choose D.C. as the first stop on their tour.