DETROIT -- The Anderson Monarchs, a group of Little Leaguers from Philadelphia, barnstormed into Comerica Park on Tuesday to watch the Tigers take batting practice prior to their Fourth of July showdown with the Twins.
The group of about 25 children and coaches boarded a 1947-era bus last Friday for a 21-day, 18-city, 4,000-mile journey across the country to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues, where players often traveled city to city in the offseason playing wherever they could get a game and draw a crowd.
"With this being the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking into the Major Leagues and with the All-Star Game being in Kansas City, I just felt like our team -- being the only African-American team in the league or tournaments we play in -- we see Jackie Robinson as an inspiration and as role model," said Monarchs head coach Steve Bandura, who came up with the idea. "This is the perfect time to pay tribute."
The trip began at Robinson's grave site in New York, then visited Yankee Stadium, PNC Park and Progressive Field before making their stop in the Motor City. Several players found time to come over and speak with the kids, including Twins outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere, and Tigers reliever Phil Coke.
"Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia and DeWayne Wise came out and talked to the players for a while [in New York]," Bandura said. "In Pittsburgh, Josh Harrison spent some time with the kids, and in Cleveland, a lot of the pitchers and Carlos Santana had the kids in the dugout ... We've met some great people. It's just been tremendous."
They will next venture through Chicago and Iowa, and hope to reach Kansas City by the All-Star Game.
"It will continue to July 23," Bandura said. "We'll go to Chicago, then on to Iowa, Kansas City, St. Louis, Louisville, all the way to [Washington] D.C. and then up to Cooperstown the day after the [Hall of Fame] induction ceremonies."