Monarchs arrive before Tribe honors Doby
Youth team paying tribute to Jackie stops in Cleveland, meets players
CLEVELAND -- The Anderson Monarchs, a youth baseball team from South Philadelphia traveling around the country to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson, made a stop at Progressive Field on Tuesday. It was the Monarchs' third stop on their 18-city, 21-day barnstorming tour, and it came during a week in which the Indians will honor their own hero who broke through the color barrier -- Hall of Famer Larry Doby.
The Indians will have a special ceremony following Friday night's game against the Rays to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Doby's groundbreaking integration into the American League. Doby's son and two daughters will be among the guests on hand for the celebration, which will include the city of Cleveland commemorating Eagle Avenue between Ontario and East Ninth Streets as Larry Doby Way.
Larry Doby Jr. and Doby's former teammate, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, will throw out the first pitch before Friday's game.
Doby played 10 of his 13 Major League seasons with the Indians, the last one coming in 1958. He hit .283 with 253 home runs and 970 RBIs in his career, but he was known more for, along with Robinson, integrating Major League Baseball.
The Monarchs, a team made up of kids aging from 9-11 years old, are traveling in a 1947-era bus to give the kids an idea what Robinson, Doby and other players went through during the barnstorming days of the Negro Leagues. The Monarchs play a game against a local youth team in each city they visit, and get the opportunity to see Major League parks up close. Then they pack up shop, hop back in the bus, and move on to the next city.
"It's a whole new world for them," said Steve Bandura, who designed the tour. "It's been pretty amazing. MLB has been just really, really great with the kids, arranging some life-long memories for these guys."
Before the Indians' game Tuesday night, the Monarchs got the opportunity to walk on the field and sit in the team's dugout. Indians pitchers Justin Masterson, Joe Smith, Josh Tomlin and Tony Sipp then ran with the kids to center field, stretched with them, and watched as they ran around the bases.
The Monarchs got to meet Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia during their stop in New York, but Bandura said the Indians' gesture topped the list of cool experiences thus far.
"Nobody was expecting that," Bandura said. "It's great. You can't beat that. I mean, they're out there stretching with them in center field. They don't have to do that.
"The players we've met have been outstanding, just terrific role models. To show these kids this world that they normally wouldn't see has been eye-opening for them."
The Monarchs' journey will eventually take them to Kansas City during next week's All-Star festivities. They will also make stops in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Cooperstown.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.