Taney gear a major-league hit with Philly fans

Security guard Anthony Townsend watches as customer Janet Brindley of Havertown sizes Taney t-shirt for purchase at Modell's on Chestnut Street August 19, 2014 as demand is through the roof for Taney Little League gear.

The first things customers saw as they walked into the Modell's store on Chestnut Street late Tuesday afternoon were a display counter loaded with blue Taney Dragons T-shirts and the looming presence of Anthony Townsend.

"This is crazy, when you've got the security guard selling the shirts," said a chuckling Townsend - the guard.

"It's definitely affected the city in a positive way."

The sporting-goods store near 15th Street in Center City received a fresh shipment of 360 T-shirts around 3:30, and general manager Paul Usher said he expected to be sold out before closing.

Demand has surged for merchandise featuring Philadelphia's hometown heroes, led by 13-year-old Mo'ne Davis, the pitching phenom who is making the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

But Taney gear has not been easy to get.

The Modell's in the Gallery was expecting to get its first Taney shirts for sale late Tuesday, said Dougie Mays, one of the store's managers.

A lot of people have expressed interest in the shirts.

"I'd probably say, today alone, between calls and actual people, probably from 100 to 150," Mays said.

At the Chestnut Street store, Debbie Sandler bought shirts for herself, her daughter, her husband, and a coworker. She said she planned to wear her Taney shirt at Wednesday's Phillies game.

"Maybe the Phillies will be inspired with the same competence and enthusiasm," she said.

The only place to offer Taney gear regularly is Triple Play Sports, at Ninth and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia.

That's because co-owner Dewey LaRosa is on the Taney Baseball board of directors.

"We provide Taney with the baseball uniforms. We've been doing that for 10 years," LaRosa said.

Normally, Taney shirts and hats sell only at the beginning and end of the season.

Then the team won the Little League Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament on Aug. 10, and sales "blew up," he said. The store has sold about 1,200 shirts and hats so far. All proceeds from team merchandise sales at Triple Play Sports and Modell's go to Taney.

LaRosa says he expects business to remain strong after, he predicted, the team wins its next game on Wednesday.

Why was he so certain?

"Why not?" he replied. "Mo'ne's pitching."


City Hall Rally and Party

From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the courtyard of City Hall, Mayor Nutter will host a pep rally and video viewing party for the Taney Dragons, who will play a team from Las Vegas at 7:30 in the Little League World Series.