Sports

Baseball and Black History

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2014, file photo, Pennsylvania pitcher Mo'ne Davis, left, celebrates with teammate Jack Rice (2) after getting the final out of a 4-0 shutout against Tennessee during a baseball game in United States pool play at the Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa. Davis has been named The Associated Press 2014 Female Athlete of the Year. At just 13, she is the youngest winner ever. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
In this Aug. 15, 2014, file photo, Pennsylvania pitcher Mo’ne Davis, left, celebrates with teammate Jack Rice (2) after getting the final out of a 4-0 shutout against Tennessee during a baseball game in United States pool play at the Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa. Davis has been named The Associated Press 2014 Female Athlete of the Year. At just 13, she is the youngest winner ever. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Frank Bruni, THE NEW YORK TIMES

PHILADELPHIA (The New York Times) — Last summer, a 13-year-old named Mo’ne Davis landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a national sensation after she pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, where almost all of the other players are boys. She’s believed to be the only black girl ever to participate in the competition.

This summer, she plans to do something else surprising: Visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four black girls were killed in a 1963 bombing. Three of them were 14. Mo’ne will turn that age on the day she shows up at the landmark.

For Mo’ne, who grew up in a poor neighborhood here, life since her Sports Illustrated coronation has been electric: a meeting with the Obamas at the White House, a quickie memoir, an appearance in a Chevrolet commercial directed by Spike Lee, even a line of sneakers named for her.

But over three weeks in late June and early July, she and 13 other kids on her team here — the rest of them boys, most of them black, all roughly her age — have a schedule of exhibition games across the country that mixes exhilarating notes with somber ones.

They’re not just hitting the road. They’re taking it south, into history: the church in Birmingham, the bridge in Selma. They’ll play ball, then visit Little Rock Central High School, a battleground in the fight to integrate schools. They’ll swing for the fences, then bow their heads at the house in Jackson, Miss., where Medgar Evers lived.

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