(USA TODAY) -- Mo'ne Davis is the best kind of overnight sensation, a blithe young woman with a quiet sense of humor who can strike out all the boys.
For a sports world bloated with stats and commentary and pseudo-controversy, she brings the power of authenticity. And so you watch.
But what is happening in South Williamsport, around Davis and the Taney club from Philadelphia that has illuminated the Little League World Series, is just as real and maybe more consequential.
African-Americans kids are playing baseball. The Jackie Robinson West club from Chicago that won the Great Lakes regional is another example.
This doesn't mean the erosion of black major league players is reversing or even slowing. But new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can be forgiven for dreaming.
In 1981, African-Americans comprised 18.7 percent of the major league players. That figure was down to 8.3 percent when the 2014 season began, the lowest percentage since 1958. The Dominican Republic alone provides 11 percent.
MLB has not watched idly. Bud Selig pushed for an urban baseball academy in Compton, Ca., and MLB supported the Reviving Baseball in the Inner City (RBI) program. It is a problem Selig could have ignored, considering how plump the revenues are, but he didn't.
Space and money are still problems. A bigger one is a 11.7 scholarship limit among Division I colleges. Obviously a full football or basketball scholarship is more appealing.
For black players to make a full return, the doors need to open earlier, with good coaches and well-manicured fields and organization. Jackie Robinson West has had those for a while. This team got support from major leaguers Carl Crawford, Curtis Granderson and LaTroy Hawkins. The rapper Common has been a fan.
SHUT OUT: Mo'Ne Davis allows two hits, no runs
In Philadelphia, Davis began to learn pitching at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, a few blocks west of Broad Street, a mile or so north of Citizens Bank Park.
That is how you stop erosion, with deep grassroots.
If Taney or Jackie Robinson West wins it all, Rob Manfred won't be able to cheer openly. Maybe a hard fist pump in the back of the limo. The real celebrations, when the next Willie Mayses and Hank Aarons actually choose the same game that the last ones did, will come later.