On Monday morning, the Taney Dragons boarded a bus to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional champions from Center City have gained quite a few notable fans for the tournament, which begins Thursday. Taney will play its first game in the 16-team World Series against Southeast Regional champion South Nashville (Tenn.) on Friday at 3 p.m. at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
Among the new supporters are the Phillies. First baseman Ryan Howard said he hopes the Dragons seize the opportunity.
"It's a special place to be able to make it there," Howard said. "Any kid that age has always dreamed about being able to play in the Little League World Series. I remember I was watching it and wishing I could be there to play at that age. . . . But getting there is the first step. They have an opportunity to get there and try to win the whole thing. Don't be happy with just making it there. Take it. Why not?"
Taney earned the berth Sunday with an 8-0 drubbing of Newark (Del.) National in the Mid-Atlantic Regional final.
"I think that is awesome and wish them all the luck and hope they have a lot of fun," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, "and play good baseball."
Proceeds from Monday's 50/50 raffle at the Phillies game went toward funding the Taney Youth Baseball Association, raising $6,727.50.
The aftermath of Taney's victory could be seen on social media. Mo'ne Davis, Taney's ace female pitcher, became an Internet sensation after she threw a shutout Sunday, allowing just three hits. Among the names in sports who posted on social media in awe of her performance were Detroit Tigers pitcher David Price, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson.
But according to Davis' mother, Mo'ne would like to hear from another athlete.
"Clayton Kershaw with the Dodgers, the pitcher," Lakeisha McLean said. "She wants to have a pitch-off with him."
Staff writer Marc Narducci contributed to this article.