Pat Burrell leads the Phillies victory parade down Broad Street towards Citizens Bank Park on Halloween
This blog of mine has taken a break from talking about politics, religion, and culture for over a week now while my beloved Philadelphia Phillies were playing in and winning the World Series.
Now, the victory parade is over, and what a parade it was! The foul weather which we endured in the final World Series games finally broke for warmth and sunshine on Victory Parade day in Philly.
On Halloween, millions turned out for the celebration, overwhelming public transportation and jamming the roads to join a tremendously joyful, peaceful celebration on Broad Street. I got to attend that parade during a lunch break from my work, watching from 15th & JFK Boulevard as the team rounded City Hall.
For me, this has been a twice in a lifetime event. I was not only alive to enjoy the 1980 season, but was a full-blown 18-year old fan who had been attending games at ‘The Vet’ for years, watching the Phillies on TV, following them in the papers.
My heroes back then were named Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw,Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone, Garry Maddox, Bake McBride, Manny Trillo, Dick Ruthven, Ron Reed, Marty Bystrom, Warren Brusstar, Dallas Green, Paul Owens, Richie Ashburn, Harry Kallas, and even a big, fuzzy, wide-eyed thing born in the late 70’s and still beloved throughout the region known to us simply as ‘The Phanatic‘.
Over this past week and a half, I have felt that same joy. This 2008 Phillies World Series champion has reached that exact same level of respect.
In 1993, when I was a 31-year old man still playing the game myself and having just gone through many major changes in my life, another Phillies team came along who caught mine and everyone else in this area’s hearts. They may not have had Hall of Famers playing for them, and they fell just short in their shot at a World Series title, but they were more fun and lovable than even the 1980 squad.
Their names included John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, Dave Hollins, Curt Schilling, Mitch Williams, Pete Incaviglia, Jim Eisenreich, Kevin Stocker, Milt Thompson, and a big lug of a manager who in a couple years would flirt with my wife right in front of me underneath Veteran’s Stadium named Jim Fregosi.
What this 2008 bunch did was something that seemed impossible. They combined the skill and greatness of the 1980 team with the fun and pleasure of the 1993 team, beat both of them for drama, and became perhaps the greatest Phillies team of all-time, at least on a par with that ’80 club.
For the rest of our lives we will remember the names: Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge, Pat Burrell, Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz, Pedro Feliz, Greg Dobbs, Chris Coste, Joe Blanton, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Geoff Jenkins, Eric Bruntlett, Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Matt Stairs, Kyle Kendrick, Pat Gillick, and that old, overweight, country boy of a manager named Charlie Manuel.
There is only one thing left to say before cutting off the baseball talk, and getting back to the important topic of the U.S. Presidential election that is now just a few days away. That one final things is this: “Thank you, Philadelphia Phillies, for the fun, the thrill, the joy, and the victory!” Man, did we ever need it.