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.

23 Comments

It couldn’t be said any better, Mr. Shenk. Nicely done!

Bill

Linglestown, PA

AAAHHHH! Finally, some uplifting news regarding the 10,000 earmark! Thank you for the feel-good article.

Mr. Shenk, may the Phillies remain as vibrant Philadelphia community leaders for the next 10,000 losses. Cheers!!!

My wife & I “were there” last night. In the ninth innning, as the inevitable was settling in, we who were left – THOUSANDS of us – stood and cheered. It reafirmed to me that Philadelphia is a great baseball town. Boston fans are obnoxious; Mets fans are annoying; Atlanta fans are fickle, Pittsburgh fans are few. But we in PHL are loyal, and as I stood with so many who stayed to the bitter end, I was proud of this city’s baseball team, and of the fans who live & breathe this glorious game.

Now I know why I have followed the Phillies so faithfully for the past fifty years.Great article.

I don’t care about the 10,000 loses.Let’s just make the playoffs,it has been a very long time.

Excellent article. I had to listen to people talk smack about the Phillies and their 10000 losses today and how people cheered about those losses in last nights game. “Philly fans are so awful,” I’ve been hearing about for so long, the booing and snowballs. Even Mets fans, “boo out of respect” according to the announcers when Chase Utley ended his hitting streak against the Mets last year. Why does New York get a pass? Those fans cheering last night showed me just how desperate we want a championship and to be respected in the sports world. We love our teams and have been forced to live with mediocrity with crappy owners who don’t care about winning as much as they should. But, we have reason to be optimistic. We have an awesome nucleus to build a champion around with Utley, Howard, Hamels, and Rollins. We’re close and we can all feel it. You’re article brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me of my first game with my dad against the Cards (one of those 10000 losses in the 9th inning at the Vet). It reminded me of seeing my dad for the first time with tears in his eyes as he spoke with his dad after they won the World Series. It reminded me of basic training graduation when my mom brought with her the first sports magazine I’d seen in 8 weeks with the 1993 Phillies on the front cover labeled, “The Bad Boys of Baseball.” I could only think about how excited I was to hear that my home team was among the best in the world. We’re all waiting to feel that again.

I became a Phillies fan during their 23 game losing streak (I like underdogs). Remember the story of Gene Mauch storming into the dressing room and letting the team have it? Remember Lefty winning 27 of 59 victories in ’72. The Phillies were a different team when he pitched. Remember John Kruk playing First Base with torn pants during the ’93 series. My son and I would make the 130 mile pilgrimage to Philly several times a year to see our team, and he’s still a big Phillies fan even though he lives in North Carolina. It’s not the record, but the moment in time when you are there in the ballpark with the team, the small talk with close-by fans, the crowd roar, the smells, sights and sometimes the excitement of just great plays. I think this is what true Phillies fans want and expect.

PLEASE!!! Gimmie a Break!!!

WHO CARES about 10,000 losses!!!

GEEZZZ!!

When is someone going to realize that MOST of the players that compiled the majority of these the *******’ losses are either dead or almost dead!!!

GET OVER IT!!!!

Let’s support the guys on the field NOW!!

You know … the one’s whit a PULSE!!!

They might not win a pennant this year’ but it’s better baseball than this city has seen in quite a few years and the pennant is numerically feasable.

I haven’t givin’ up on this team and, some of these jerk off sports writers should could find something to write about THIS TEAM!!

Who cares about the past!!!

If you don’t wanna be a part of the SOLUTION … then your just another part of this teams problem!!!

GROW UP!!

Excellent Article Larry. My wife and I had a great time at CBP on Saturday, and she’s now a Phillies fan. I did a review of our experience. Check my blog (link below).

10,000 losses was bound to happen, but it’s great how it was celebrated, and the team is focused on winning. It’s going to be a great second half. I’m looking forward ot see the Phillies challenge the Braves and Mets.

http://theorphan.mlblogs.com

“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.”

I might be a sentimental slob but this is right on and brings a tear to my eye and yes I do remember my first game…also at Shibe Park

Hi Larry,

As a Phillies fan that bleeds Phillies Red, I’m very happy that you, representing the Phillies, acknowledged the 10,000 losses and wrote such a fitting article. I do not have to be reminded of the losses, but I think we all had to be reminded of why we love the Phils. Your words touched me. My father God rest his soul, loved the Phillies and he was born in 1918 and lived to 2006. So We fans of the Phils love them, not for winning but that they are always there for us, like a good friend. Thanks for the reminder.

Thank you for an excellent article, Larry. I am one of those women who has become a phanatical follower. My first ever baseball game was in 1976 at two years old at old Busch stadium. My first Phillies game was in 1997 at 23 years old. I walked into the Vet a Mets fan and walked out that day a Phillies phan. I loved the passion of the phans and seeing the Phanatic live. My love of the Phillies has now extended down to the minors. It is a thrill to see the guys I saw play in Lakewood make it to the show. There may be a “stigma”(according to the press) that comes with being a Phillies phan, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. :) Laura

I wasn’t alive to see 1980, but 1993 was a thrill. And even though they let me down every year, I still love the Phillies. We may never win another World Series, God forbid, but there’s no other team I’d rather root for. Thanks, Larry, for reminding us why we’re proud to root for the Phils. God bless ‘em, and God bless Philadelphia.

Phillies baseball — A Life Long Love Affair

Thank you for the history lesson, Larry. Now with the 10,000 losses here, there should be a new goal to accomplish. This may take many years, but it can happen. That goal is to get to a .500 winning percentage all time. It is time for the Phillies to set a new standard. Starting with the scouting and development of players. If the ownership allows itself to invest more money in the scouting, with a revitalized minor league system with a winning attitude, we can achieve this goal. Why spend money on mid-range pitchers or players you are trying to roll the dice on. Let’s set a new standard: Not to just get by and make the playoffs as a wild-card. Win the division, win the playoffs, win the World Series. With that attitude, the goal will be accomplished.

Nice article!! I don’t care about 10,000 losses and to your point a lot of that occurred in the early years when the As ruled this town.

But…there is always a but…a few things that bother me:

1.)”We have a winning record this decade, which could wind up as the third-best in our history.” This is not an accomplishment, especially w/o a post season appearance. This and Monty’s comments on TV the other day drive me crazy!! There is nothing to rejoice about with this team and organization post the Paul Owens / Carpentar area. One playoff appearance (1993) and wasting the talents of Rollins, Howard, Utley and Hamels w/o giving them the opportunity to succeed with a better bullpen and some more starters. And dont get me started on the comments by Monty on the playoff systems of the NBA and NHL…what a spin on performance.

2.) “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.” Yeah but at the end of the day its about WS titles. Nothing will bring this area together more than a Phillies WS. I still argue that a WS parade would draw more people than an Eagles Super Bowl parade. I dont want to be lovable losers like the Cubs. We are similar in that they have the Billy Goat curse and we have the Bad Ownership Curse (this one included). Look, baseball is a great sport and it brings generations together and it has in my family but winning (not above .500 seasons…but championships) would do more.

Look, this is the greatest sport in the world and I love the Phillies with an uncontrollable passion. That is why they are so tough to enjoy b/c you see the talent and see the possibilities. Just imagine…nippy October Night, Game 7 of the NLCS, Hamels on the mound for the deciding game at CBP vs. the hater rivals, the NY Mets. I get chills typing that. BUt it wont happen if we continue to throw out the JD Durbins, Geoff Gearys, Brian Sanches, Ryan Madsons, Clay Condreys of the world. When the going gets tough with this team and the games become meaningful, they fold (Wagner vs. Houston Astros; losing 2 out of 3 in Washingont last year, etc.)

Larry, you are a legend and this was well written but I cant let this team off the hook for poor baseball since the inception of the franchsise and more specifically since 1983. I dont care how we compare to the Brewers or Pirates or whatever. I care only about the Phils and this playoff drought cannot be accepted.

Keep up the good work Larry, I had to vent.

PS – I have a son coming into this world in one month – he will continue the generation of Phillies fans

10,000 is here and gone. Let’s move forward and find some pitching!

Jason – Altoona, PA

Larry, Thanks for those wonderful words. We are phillie fans, and we will always be phillie fans. Keep up the great work.

no matter how many losses or wins they have we are all like a family. ever since i was a little kid growing up in batavia ny going to the clippers/muckdogs games with my grandpa being spanked by the phillie phanatic….. i will always be a fan!

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. The Phutiles are a bunch of losers. I have been following the home team for 30 years. In that time, they have lost more games than they have won. As was noted, the Phutiles are NOT the oldest team in the league. As a matter of fact, there are five other teams (Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Cincinnati) who have been around longer. The Phutiles have reached the 10,000 mark before any of these teams and are currently a long ways behind any of these teams toward the 10,000 win mark. The Giants came into the league the same year as the Phutiles and reached the 10,000 win mark two years ago and are currently 1,300 losses away from catching the home team. No matter how you spin it or try to make the picture look better, they are a nationwide disgrace and deserve whatever ridicule they get. They currently have a losing record and have not made the playoffs since 1993. Only four other teams in ANY league (the Brewers, Royals, Expos/ Nationals, and Pirates) have gone through a longer drought without making the playoffs. This is not the kind of company that I want to be compared to. (The Hawks – 1998, Arizona Cards – 1998, and Panthers – 2000 have gone through the longest drought in the other major sports). REAL PHANS LOVE THEIR LOSERS!!!

Well 10,000 loses dont mean anything to us since all the loses came back when at least half of us werent even alive and to be one of the oldest teams it doesnt surpise me so people should just shut up about 10,000 loses

Larry, you and I must be about the same age. Just read your blog about your first game–A’s vs. Red sox. I too saw a Red Sox A’s double header as my first major league game. It was a Sunday doubleheader in 1942. Ted Williams as in the oufield and I believe he struck out four times in the first game. Shibe Park was jammed and the fans were booing him pretty fiercely until late in the second game when he came to bat, the booing got even louder. I forget who was pitching for Phila., but Williams looked at the right field fence and sent one over the wall. The stadium rocked with cheers and Williams didn’t even touch his cap as he trotted around the bases.
Bob Johnson (A’s) hit two over the left field stands that day and Jimmie Foxx was also in the line up-I’m not sure which team he played for.

I was hooked on baseball forever after that experience and have been a PHILLIES rooter ever since.

After the game, we went to Pat’s for steak sandwiches–also a wonderful “first” for me.

Keep up the blogging, it’s great!

ED

Baron

Excellent review of the 10,000 opportunities to build a fan base. Considering the longivity of the Franchise and its place in Philadelphia Civic History, it should be heralded as milestone. Facts speak for themselves.

Go Phils. I am watching!

Dennis

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