Thank You, Fans
We’ve just reached a milestone, our 10,000th loss, also known as a defeat, setback, debit, downfall, stumbling block, or withdrawl.
Just as Ed Delahanty, Davey Bancroft, Puddin’ Head Jones, Mike Schmidt, Jim Eisenreich, Jimmy Rollins, Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas are part of Phillies history, so are 10,000 losses. We can’t change the past, only move forward in our never-ending drive to bring another World Series title to Philadelphia.
There are those who think we should celebrate. We’d be criticized whether we do or don’t.
I don’t know of any other team that celebrates losses, other than the Washington Generals who played zillions of games world-wide against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Established in 1883, the Phillies are the oldest, continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in American professional sports (although the team briefly used alternate names in some years). That is quite an accomplishment.
When the Phillies joined the National League in 1883, there were eight teams. Only three other franchises have been in the NL since 1883: Chicago, New York (now San Francisco) and Boston (twice moved, Milwaukee to Atlanta).
We are seventh in games played, ninth in wins and first in losses, with five other franchises over 9,000 defeats.
We’ve been a Philadelphia institution longer than Temple University, Philadelphia Suburban Water Co., Sunoco, Inc. and Goldenberg Candy Co., just to name a few. We’ve outlasted the Philadelphia Athletics, five newspapers in the city, numerous radio stations, a handful of TV stations and thousands of other businesses.
Heck, we’re as old as the Brooklyn Bridge.
Because of our longevity, we have played more games, won more games, lost more games and drawn more fans than any other sports franchise in this city. No one will catch us.
We, most likely, were the first baseball team to lose 5,000 games. If that was the case, it occurred on July 24, 1945, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In checking an old, musty, dusty scrapbook, there was no mention of that milestone in either the Inquirer or Evening Bulletin articles. Not a word the day before, day of, or day after. Media coverage over the 10,000 losses has been of blizzard proportions.
Looking back, much of the damage was done a very long time ago:
**Between 1918 and 1948, there was one winning season.
**During the first 63 seasons, there were 13 100-loss seasons; during the last 62, one.
**28 percent of the setbacks came in a three-decade period, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s.
**Starting in 1938, we lost 105, 106, 103, 111 and 109 games in consecutive seasons.
I can’t imagine what the e-mails to the front office would have been like in those years.
The numbers aren’t all suffering ones:
**In 124-plus years, we have won more home games (4,820) than we’ve lost (4,556).
**Games at Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park rank 1-2 in winning percentage among the ballparks we’ve called home.
**During the last 31 seasons, there have been two franchise-record 101-win seasons, six Eastern Division titles, three NL championships and one World Series Champion. We have been in the post-season during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
**During the same time frame, the Phillies were frequent inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown: players Bancroft, Sam Thompson, Chuck Klein, Robin Roberts, Schmidt, Ashburn, Steve Carlton and Jim Bunning; two broadcasters, By Saam and Kalas, and three writers Allen Lewis (Inquirer), Ray Kelly (Bulletin) and Bus Saidt (Trenton Times).
**We have a winning record this decade, which could wind up as the third-best in our history.
**Since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004, the Phillies’ overall record is 305-272.
Oh, my, I almost forgot… 29 seasons ago the world was invaded by Phillie Phanatic, the best mascot in sports.
When you get down to it, Phillies baseball is more than win-loss numbers. Yes, that’s how sports franchises are measured and it will always be that way. Embrace winners, despise losers. Only the Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, are referred to as lovable losers.
Phillies baseball is about people playing a game for people. The people for whom the games are played are you, the fans. Fathers and sons connect, women become fanatical followers and kids dream of being a Phillies player.
I’ll never forget the first game I saw. My dad took me to see the Red Sox and A’s at Shibe Park. Some guy named Ted Williams was playing. Do you remember your first game?
Fan dedication has been awesome, over 116 million in the team’s history. More than 10 million of those have been to games at Citizens Bank Park which means the park, the game and the players have appeal. To the more than 116 million who have supported the franchise through thick and thin, we say an enormous THANK YOU for your Phillies passion.
We live in the Internet age in which fans can connect like never before. During the 2006 calendar year, phillies.com had more than 120 million page views. Last month, over 16 million.
One of the beautiful aspects of baseball is that many more fans are connected by radio and television. For six months out of every year, Phillies broadcasters are invited into the living rooms of millions. Gene Kelly, Saam, Bill Campbell, Ashburn, Kalas and the current crew are household names.
There are blind people who don’t miss a game on the radio. My 91-year-old dad doesn’t miss a TV game, although he tapes the late-night ones. An elderly woman confessed that after she lost her husband, she was left with three loves in her life, her two sons and the Phillies.
The lives of ill and crippled children are brightened by the games and the players.
Ed Deal, a Phillies game-day employee, said it best: “The Phillies are my grandfather’s team, my father’s team, my team, my sons’ team and my grandchildren’s team.”
That, my friends, is Phillies baseball.