Two baseball players who came up through the Anderson Monarchs will play for HBCUs in Division I next season after helping lead Springside Chestnut Hill Academy to the Inter-Ac League championship this spring.
First baseman Brandon Gibbs will go to Delaware State, and second baseman Jahli Hendricks will head to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Delaware State and Southern, two of the oldest historically Black college and universities, both compete in HBCU conferences — Delaware State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and Southern in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Both colleges had players drafted by Major League teams this year.
Southern won the SWAC championship this year and advanced to the NCAA tournament before being eliminated in the first round. The Jaguars’ centerfielder, Javeyan Williams, was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 22nd round of the draft.
Hendricks said he is impressed with Southern’s baseball program and Jaguars’ head coach Kerrick Jackson has done a great job.
“When I went down there on my visit, it felt great,” Hendricks said. “It was awesome just getting a different sense of the environment down there. Coach Jackson is a great guy. He’s a great coach. I’m really excited to get down there.”
Delaware State finished the season with a 12-12 record. Hornet pitcher Garrett Lawson was picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 19th round of the draft.
The MEAC is “a great league,” Gibbs said. “There are some talented players from Coppin State and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.”
Gibbs and Hendricks helped Springside Chestnut Hill Academy win the Inter-Ac League championship with an 8-2 record in their senior year.
“This year we did really well,” Gibbs said. “In the beginning of the season, we lost to Haverford School and Malvern Prep. Ever since then, we decided we weren’t going to lose again. We won the league and went 8-0 the rest of the way.”
Gibbs and Hendricks both grew up playing for the Anderson Monarchs under coach Steve Bandura at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center.
Gibbs remembers the barnstorming tour the Monarchs took around the country in 2015. The 21-day, 19-city trip took the team to the South and the Midwest, then back to the East Coast with a stop in New York City before returning to Philadelphia. The Monarchs rode in a 1947 Flxible Clipper touring bus, just like the Negro League players during the 1940s.
“Playing with [Bandura] was great. He showed us the basic fundamentals,” Gibbs said. “He has a great background in baseball. We watched a bunch of historical videos. We went to Selma [Alabama] on the barnstorming tour and went throughout the South. We played against the best teams in the South while visiting the historical monuments.”
“The Monarchs have changed my life,” said Hendricks. “Coach Steve has so much knowledge of the game. I don’t think I would be the player or the person I am today if I hadn’t become a Monarch.”