The Lovable, Huggable Philly Sports Fans: Part 1

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With the Phillies returning to the World Series this fall…

…and the Eagles with a robust and respectable 8-1 record in the NFL..

… lots of national sportswriters are taking it upon themselves to educate those not in the know about what they think Philadelphia sports fans are like.

And explain why they seem so angry. 

That’s all bull.

Never believe anything stated in an article describing Philadelphia Sports Fans“, because obviously they are not from Philly and are therefore jealous of just how awesome a fanbase it really is. They just disguise it with petty comments about how mean the fans are and how they even booed Santa, as if the writers went to a cool party and got denied admission.

Let me give you the real, legit lowdown, starting with the fact:

The city is called Philly. Dead giveaway #1.

DG # 2: we have a collectively wry, snarky sense of gallows humor. Keep that at the forefront of your mind as you read:

Legally required caption:
The History of the Philly Sports Fan In Dutch’s Questionable Opinion
It’s a real page-turner.

Philly residents have perpetually had a chip on their shoulder since the late 1700’s.

This was when the young American nation had the audacity to move the nation’s capital from The City of Brotherly Love to some swamp just west of Baltimore. New York City got all the attention, power resided in Washington DC, and Baltimore and Philly became afterthoughts along the rail line between the two cities. 

So: Philly residents started getting an attitude of: “Fine then. Screw those cities, we gotta protect our castle, this is OUR home, our kingdom, we are gonna do things our way.” This coincided with lots of Italians and Irish immigrants coming to Philly who already had the mindset of, “screw everyone else, I’m gonna make my own way in this world.” 

That stubbornness to work your ass off, to reap the rewards mixed in with the mentality of “who needs DC or New York, those losers…” created a general regional disdain for perceived wussies and non-locals.

“Prudence, you non-local New Yorker! I shall proceed to kick thy knickers!”

By the time 1900 rolls around, you’ve already had a few generations come and go in the region, who appreciate hard work and making something of your life with your hands. To include many former slaves, seeking a fresh start outside of the South, in the closest and largest Northern city to the former Confederacy. 

Sports becomes more prevalent in society as a way to escape the daily grind.

The city actually had numerous baseball clubs throughout the city, dating back to the early 1800’s. The exposure to this early style of baseball was already commonplace by the later 1800’s, when baseball started to become more organized with leagues and rule modifications. By 1900 the city had two major professional baseball teams within the city limits:

The Phillies in one professional league,

and The Athletics in another. 

And they both proved to be really…. lousy. 

Well, at first, only the Phils were horrid. The A’s were actually pretty good for a few decades. Then the ownership went to pot because Connie Mack’s family had zero business sense to continue to run that organization.

So by the time the A’s began their trek to Oakland via Kansas City in the 1950’s, Philly just shrugged. It was not the soul-sapping Armageddon Brooklyn Dodgers fans felt at all when they made the move to LA.

The Phillies are the epitome of underdog losers. They’ve existed as a Major League team for nearly 150 years now, and they’re perpetually under .500.

And on Twitter, it’s even wor-
Never mind. We’re not going there.

There have been maybe 30 good years of genuine good play from the team, with 120 of loserness. This World Series trek in 2022 is only the eighth time the team has even gone to the World Series in 130 years. They’ve only won it twice. (For perspective, the Non-Local Yankees have WON twenty-seven.)

That’s a lot of time for fans to become quite jaded and sullen and have to accept mediocrity. And in turn, a LOT of time to perfect that mentality and personality into an artform.

So yeah, there were many, many decades of these hard working immigrants and laborers paying to watch games in Philly, and getting annoyed that they paid money to watch athletes not do their best. This does not sit well with the crowds, and they make their feelings evident. 

By booing the home team. A lot. And loudly. 

They collectively thought that the ‘tough love’ would encourage the athletes to play better!

Yeaaaa, that was a big “nope.”

But guess what? It sure proved to be a heck of a lot of fun to talk about how lousy they were! 

Communal wallowing provided sustenance, and the ballpark was a convenient venting venue. And yet, the fans still went. Because the fans knew if the players would just listen to them already, sheesh, it would pay off. The teams were the perpetual child that could never quite live up to their parents expectations.

But the parents still loved them to pieces, hoping someday, somehow, the team would make the city proud.

By the 1920s, a new professional sport started making headway: Football.

Soon enough, the Eagles emerged as Philly’s representative team in this newfangled football league. The Philly baseball fans branch out and find an early Eagles team that wound up being … not as lousy, with occasional winning streaks to keep the fanbase appeased.

Same attitude. Same fans.

Same philosophy.

The Athletics leaving town in the 50’s essentially made things easier for the sports fans to focus their efforts on the remaining teams. 

Philly has had a lengthy professional basketball history dating back to 1900.

The Warriors were the first team for the city within one of the rapidly organized basketball leagues in the 1940’s, only to be sold and relocated to San Francisco and become the Golden State Warriors. So Philly wrangled an existing team from Syracuse, relocated them and rebranded them as the 76er’s in the early 1960’s. Shortly after the Sixers arrival, NHL Hockey came to Philly in the form of the Flyers. 

Already being a major sports town with a healthy, robust, and vocal fan pool, the sports fans happily embraced more major professional sports teams, that demanded the same amount of tough, ‘gritty’ love – nay, encouraged it.

Which brings us to my mom…

Ruh-roh...

(to be continued…)


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dutchg8r

Obnoxious Smurf that tells lame jokes and is too sarcastic for her own good.

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Virgindog
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November 16, 2022 8:56 am

I feel your pain. I’m a Red Sox fan.

mt58
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November 16, 2022 10:13 am
Reply to  dutchg8r

It’s just a little window dressing. The real talent around here is in the writing.

Good on all of our generous and gifted contributing authors!

LinkCrawford
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November 16, 2022 11:06 am
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mt58 is too kind to all of us.

thegue
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November 16, 2022 2:41 pm
Reply to  LinkCrawford

It’s about 50/50: me wanting to read the articles posted, and half wanting to see what visual gifts mt58 has left for us! Way to go!!

JJ Live At Leeds
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November 16, 2022 1:07 pm

Thanks for the introduction to Philly sports and the special relationship with the fans. Intrigued as to what way its going to go when mom gets involved.

As a Newcastle United fan in the Anglo version of football I can appreciate the frustration of having negative stereotype attached. In our case its been as insular, an overbearing sense of entitlement to success (despite not winning anything since 1969!), not as loyal as the fans like to think. Or at worst a bunch of village idiots with no sense of perspective who will brainlessly follow the team to the detriment to the detriment of everything else in their life.

All of which may be true for a few but probably is for other teams as well.

Seeing the title of this piece and being a big fan of Its Always Sunny….. I have to ask what is your opinion of the show? Proud bastion of Philly culture or a blight on the cities reputation?

thegue
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November 16, 2022 2:43 pm
  1. Newcastle? When you’re from Leeds? What in the *%&!!!!
  2. Always Sunny is brilliant. I was bartending in a shady section of town back in 2011, and the cast came to do some filming in our section. It was a great night serving drinks and taking pictures, and DeVito was amazing.
  3. There’s a LOT more to this story which I’ll share below.
JJ Live At Leeds
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November 16, 2022 3:08 pm
Reply to  thegue

I may be live at Leeds but I’m not from Leeds. Migrated here when I was 21. My formative years were spent a half hour north of Newcastle – characterised by my southern friends as making me Scottish. Nearly but not quite.

thegue
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November 16, 2022 2:55 pm

Dutch! Great article as always, but a few things I should add that will add even MORE understanding to the chip on our collective shoulders.

  1. Philadelphia was originally the financial capital of the United States, and the First/Second National Bank of America was based here (the 1st, Alexander Hamilton’s creation, the 2nd guided by Nicholas Biddle. Farmers and rural Americans were resentful of the tight monetary policies in place by our national bank, and Andrew Jackson rode to the Presidency on this anger…but the National Bank may have survived. Jackson needed to cut off funds to the Bank in order to “kill” it. Biddle was a “bit” pompous towards Jackson, and frankly wasn’t too worried – after all, the East Coast Congressmen outnumbered those hicks. But Jackson had a wildcard: New York. New York City was jealous of being America’s “Second City”, and wound up voting to eliminate funding for the bank. Shortly thereafter, Wall Street became what it is today.
  2. Still, Philly was RICH. Until the late 1920s, the greatest collection of millionaires in America lived in Philly and on the Main Line. We all know what happened in 1929.
  3. In 2000, I was hanging out at a White Dog Cafe block party, and I was talking to a group of people who were in town for the Republican National Convention, and we were…resentful? Not of the politics (heck, I was Republican back then), but Philadelphia had the reputation of being “Filthy-delphia”, and between that, the X-Games, Conde Nast naming Philly the best food city in America (among others), we were worried that our “little secret” was going to get discovered and it would be ruined.
  4. I’m still extremely proud of Philadelphia, and this is from a Jersey suburbanite who was lucky enough to live in the city for 7 years.
Phylum of Alexandria
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November 16, 2022 3:32 pm

Go Athletics!  🤓 

I can’t engage in talk about sports, because I risk getting my Philly points depleted. I’ve only been to two Phillies games and one Flyers game. And that’s it.

I’m already on parole for putting ketchup on my cheesesteak, so keep this confidential!

Last edited 17 days ago by Phylum of Alexandria
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November 16, 2022 5:09 pm
Reply to  dutchg8r

The Phanatic was objectively the best thing about the Phillies games I went to.

….and Gritty is objectively the heart of the coming revolution…

Aaron3000
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November 16, 2022 8:30 pm
Reply to  dutchg8r

I think this guy gives the Phanatic and Gritty a run for their money. (Speaking of Sunny, you really just need to binge the whole series… You try to pick a few of the best episodes and you’ll miss a whole lotta funny!)

Greeman.jpg
Last edited 17 days ago by Aaron3000
Dance Fever
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November 16, 2022 8:29 pm

My school computer keeps crashing and I have to redo my password every time but now I’m back and just in time for dutchg8er’s great take on Philly athletics.
On the mothership, I talked about our men’s basketball team participating in the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament in Maryland.
Before the advent of AAU basketball for high school and (grade school)teams, this was THE tournament to be invited to (especially for Catholic schools).
I told the story of meeting Coach K at Duke when he was just starting out
but dutchg8ter’s post brought back so many memories of playing the Philly schools in the tourney.
We played Father Judge one year and that had every one scratching their heads (we’re Judge Memorial) so people were wondering if we were built in memorance of that school’s founder (No, we were not).
We also played Roman Catholic in the championship game in 1990 (we lost in OT).
But the biggest memories I have of those times were interacting with the Philly fans who came down to the games.
After each day, the fans were invited to the hospitality room at the local hotel we were staying in for libations and food ( needless to say, there was more libations partook of than food).
We would argue the night away with comparisons of Mo Cheeks to John Stockton, Dr. J versus Larry Bird and we all worshipped the Wilt! (Wilt Chamberlain).
But,I believe you’ll love this, dutchg8ter, we all agreed on Philly fans were either happy when they were pissed or pissed when they were happy!

cappiethedog
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November 16, 2022 9:14 pm

What kind of 87-win team was that? But then again, they were facing a 89-win team. On paper, they were evenly matched. That didn’t materialize. The Philly crowd deserved the series. They wanted it more than the Padres players.

In the stands, the game looks unchanged. But on-field play, geez. They have to lower the mound or something. It’s like home run derby. Or you strikeout. A pitcher such as Trevor Hoffman(Padres) in the closer role can’t happen anymore. His best pitch was the change-up. Every team seems to have a whole bunch of guys who can throw in the mid-to-high nineties.

Jerry Seinfeld has a point about sports fans rooting for laundry. I had no emotional connection to the 2022 edition of the San Diego Padres. But I wanted them to win. Because they were wearing the right uniforms. I was rooting for Padres’ teams past.

Is Villanova in Philadelphia proper?

My favorite recent college basketball game was Villanova over North Carolina at the buzzer in the 2016 title game. The head coach, Jay Wright, isn’t even looking at the basket going through the hoop as he walks onto the floor. I remember the announcer saying: “That’s gangsta.”

San Diego wasn’t going to beat the Houston Astros either. When you have upsets, you set up mismatches. It should have been Los Angeles versus Houston.

thegue
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November 17, 2022 11:06 am
Reply to  cappiethedog

Cappie,

You make me want to revisit my blog post about how to fix baseball. It CAN be done, I just don’t know if the people in charge know how to do it…

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