Anderson Monarchs welcome Italian Dream Team


The Anderson Monarchs baseball representatives know the feeling of being victorious guests, having compiled a 9-4 record during July’s barnstorming tour to honor Jackie Robinson’s 65th anniversary of demolishing Major League Baseball’s color barrier. The youngsters decided against engaging in role reversal Saturday at Anderson Yards, 18th and Fitzwater streets, protecting their home in an 11-2 destruction of the Italian Dream Team. Their second triumph in four months against an Italian foe gives their year another plus just in time for the fall season.

“Italy reached out to us, and we accepted the opportunity,” coach Steve Bandura, who has overseen the Monarchs since their 1995 formation, said as his athletes finished finesse-filled fielding drills.

Shortly before embarking on their three-week, 4,500-mile odyssey, the South of South ballplayers defeated an Italian unit with a similar case of wanderlust. Manager Paolo Castagnini has prepared four teams to travel to the United States through the Verona-based Baseball On The Road and had hoped this group would forge a memorable stand on its South Philadelphia stop. The reverent pre-game ceremony included the playing of the well-received Italian national anthem; a recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Marian Anderson, the home bunch’s namesake; and the blaring of the “Rocky” theme. Upon the festivities’ conclusion, the local diamond figures looked to be non-Italian stallions.

Third-year hurler Mark Moore received the starting nod and threw two perfect frames, which included two strikeouts. The Monarchs’ lefty-heavy lineup scratched out a run in its second swings before it really began to prove that determination and discipline can change any supposed duel into a blowout. Two-run singles by right fielder Mateen Bradley and second baseman Marquan Wallace highlighted the Bandura band’s five-run third inning, but the Italian pride never diminished, as the players, whose 10-day American jaunt will include time in Massachusetts and New York, joined their supporters to form a counter chorus to the Monarchs’ faithful followers.

Even with a half-dozen scores in their favor, Bandura reminded his charges to sustain their intensity, which Mo’ne Davis, his lone female, acknowledged, as her fourth-inning mound appearance made the Italians look as futile at attacking her offerings as many Americans have. With only six innings scheduled, the European voyagers needed a momentum boost after yielding another score and dealing with Davis’ deliveries and had Castagnini commending their fortitude by plating a pair of two-out runs in the fifth session.

“That’s OK,” first baseman Trevor McGee said. “Let’s get those back.”

His sweet swing initiated a four-run outburst that sank the very game Italian competitors. Trevor came in to make sure that the teams would soon have chances to share non-combative time together, as the southpaw fanned the side to help his outfit’s return to action to be a comprehensive conquest.

“It was a fun game,” Bandura, who saw all 10 of his players reach base, said. “They had a few players but weren’t that strong. A nice group of people though. Everyone enjoyed it.”

Members of the Philadelphia Youth Association centered at the adjacent Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 744 S. 17th St., the Monarchs showed their hospitality by endowing the journeyers with gift bags, receiving magnets and plaudits in the form of “Bravo” and “Brava” chants.

“It was good, great, really, to play an international team,” Mark said of the experience. “I just tried to throw strikes to give my team a chance.”

To go along with his pitching prowess, the 12-year-old resident of the 1000 block of South 18th Street and student at Edwin M. Stanton School, 1700 Christian St., stroked two singles, drew a walk and scored twice. His team’s execution impressed Castagnini.

“We loved playing on this fantastic field against a fantastic team,” he said.

With only a one-day stay planned, he and his personnel had little time to see the city but eagerly anticipated their next dining experience.

“No Italian meals,” Castagnini said. “We are in the United States, so we will eat American food."

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.