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Little Leaguers capture hearts, minds and viewers

Mo'Ne Davis is a household name.And so are the Taney Dragons.And ESPN owes both of them a big thank you.

Markee Monroe, 12, waits on deck at a Heritage Jr. RBI league baseball game at 12th and York Streets in North Philadelphia earlier this summer. Credit: Charles Mostoller Markee Monroe, 12, waits on deck at a Heritage Jr. RBI league baseball game at 12th and York Streets in North Philadelphia earlier this summer. Credit: Charles Mostoller

Mo'Ne Davis is a household name.

And so are the Taney Dragons.

And ESPN owes both of them a big thank you.

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In Wednesday night's 8-1 Las Vegas victory, one that put the Philadelphia team on the brink of elimination from the Little League World Series, five million people tuned in. The previous high for a LLWS game was 3.3 million back in 2001.

Wednesday's game received a 16.3 rating in Las Vegas and a 14.9 in Philadelphia. That means, in Philly where the team has become a sensation and source of pride throughout the city, nearly 15 percent of people watching TV in the City of Brotherly love watched Little League baseball.

This is a lot of people for a baseball game. And explains perhaps why Sports Illustrated put Mo'Ne, 13-years-old and all, on the cover of its next issue.

And also will likely explain the downward plunge of the ratings Saturday, when the Series continues sans Taney Baseball.

With ESPN seemingly the main beneficiary of the ratings boon, youth baseball in inner cities is certainly benefiting. Philadelphia, a city with a major budget problem in its public schools, sees how lucrative (not to mention important to the development of a child) sports can be.

And with other big cities like Chicago and Las Vegas making deep tournament runs, instead of the typical suburban team, RBI baseball programs in Major League Baseball cities and beyond look poised to make steps forward.

Taney's journey might be over, but their legacy could just be starting. And that's good news for anyone who loves sports.

Follow Philadephia sports editor Evan Macy on twitter @Evan_Macy

 
 
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