The Hall; and Mo'm Gets Mad

The Hall; and Mo'm Gets Mad

Day 20, and the Monarchs board the bus for the short drive from Oneonta to Cooperstown.

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Bus mechanic Tom Murphy was changing the oil while yet another wiffle ball game played out in the parking lot after breakfast.

HOF_steps.jpg Cracking backs, practicing handshakes, and relaxing on the steps of the HOF

We rolled into Cooperstown just before 10am and the shops and delis on Main Street were already filled with tourists, players and families, many from the local Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament.

We were met outside the Museum entrance by a crew from NBC News led by correspondent Harry Smith. Brad Horn, the HOF VP of Communications and Education led us into the HOF Gallery where the team posed for pictures with HOF President Jeff Idelson, holding Mo'ne's LLWS jersey.

mone_jersey.jpg Now part of the HOF archive, Mo'ne and HOF President Jeff Idelson had to handle her LLWS jersey with cotton gloves.

The players quickly spread out through the museum. While the coaches gathered around displays like the one that featured gloves worn by World Series stars Brook Robinson (1970), Willie Mays (1954) and Al Gionfriddo (1947), the Monarchs were drawn to more timely displays of events and plays they personally witnessed on Sports Center.

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The two hour trip allowed only brief stops at the countless displays that fill the HOF Museum, but a group of Monarchs gathered around a baseball music display and sang along with Jack Rice's sister Penelope, and another group sat through the entire Abbot & Costell Who's on First? film clip.

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Mo'ne had a small following of players that were trying to complete the treasure hunt printed on the back of the museum map.

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In one corner the NBC crew and Harry Smith had Zion cornered: Q:"If you weren't a Monarch what would you be doing now?" A:"Playing PlayStation." (...and the score: Steve Bandura-1, Teenagers-0)

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Pretty ordinary day so far...but that would change after lunch when we tried to board the bus.

I've been on the bus with these 15 teenagers for almost three weeks now. I have yet to witness a fight (OK, Mo'ne accused Brandon of cheating at Uno once, but that was unsubstantiated and it blew over quick). I see no cliques. They eat and converse in different groups daily, and Mo'ne, for all the attention she attracts, is just one of the kids....not one of the boys, because she is always more pulled together than the guys...she is no tomboy! The boys allow strangers to approach her, as they almost always do, but I have seen a literal "circling of the wagons" around her when it seems to be spiraling out of control. There's a bizarre comprehension of this celebrity presence among the inner circle of the players that really has no bearing on the team itself, but is omnipresent and unavoidable in public.

On this day however, something had sent Mo'ne over the edge, and she took action. "Nobody gets on the bus!" she yelled. I'd just gotten inside to set my gear down when I realized what was happening. The door shut behind me. Tom Murphy dug the small broom out from the back and Mo'ne went to work on the floor of the bus. I looked outside and the boys and coaches were resigned to waiting this out. Back in the bus Mo'ne was a Monarch on a mission, pushing and pulling empty bottles, t-shirts, caps, candy wrappers and cookie crumbs --two weeks worth of discarded stuff-- from under the seats and into the narrow, center aisle. I was crouched low shooting this, and realized (with apologies to Representative John Lewis and Little Rock HS) this was the image that would stick with me forever.

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I've been married almost 24 years, a father to two boys for 19, and am all to familiar with our ignoring pleas from my wife Amy to straighten up our stuff. There's just something about a guy's genetic makeup (and inherent laziness), and piles of clothes. And all that is cool until the tripping point comes, Amy blows a gasket, and rearranging our crap is inevitable.

The gasket on this bus just blew and even Tom Murphy was helpless to fix it.

I could not decipher Mo'ne's mumbled comments as she worked her way to the front of the bus, I just knew that when she got to the front I was all that stood between her and the trash bag. We decided not to push the trash out into the street right in from of the Hall of Fame, so I became the defacto dustpan guy...the dustpan being a worn piece of corrugated cardboard.

Nothing survived. Not one piece of neglected clothing, or even some coins were spared. I just did as I was told.

By this time Myles and Terrance were on the bus and they took over, sweeping the dust and crumbs the "dustpan" missed, out into the street.

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Peace and sanitation were restored and the bus made its way through the Adirondacks to Boston. Day 20 was over.

Posted in Experience