Thursday, August 30, 2007

Notable Philadelphia Sports Fans

While you eagerly await Part Two of the Flyers analysis, I thought of something that I would like to share with you; 'Notable Philadelphia Sports Fans', from a private weblog I tinkered around with a little way back... It may not be totally hockey related, but I hope you find it enjoyable just the same.

I've been a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan for almost a half century now and I've encountered quite a lot of fellow fans over that span... I will relate to you below a baker's dozen of the most famous, more interesting, or merely the personal favorites of mine -- by groupings, but otherwise in no particular order:

THE MASCOTS [the unofficial chief fans]
1) Phillie Phanatic/Swoop/Hip-Hop/Phlex
Their leader, of course, is the Phanatic who is arguably the best in the business, and one of the very first. With the possible exception of the San Diego Chicken, he is in a league of his own and we have enjoyed him since the early days of the Vet... While the others are fine, they are really just afterthoughts to the good ol' Phanatic.

2) The WhooHoo Man
He is a causality in the move across the street to Citizen's Bank Park... He was the guy who sat behind home plate, the one who you would always hear being picked up over the microphone saying, "Whoo Hoo, everybody hits" or something on those lines. He was not the first, but he was the most famous, he took over from the original many years ago, and he made it his own... We wonder what happened to him in the new park; he may still be there but unheard since the microphones no longer capture his yells.

3) Uniform Lady
She was not famous but was amazing non-the-less... She would don the uniform shirt of the current Phillies batter, quickly changing after each batter; on defense she would wear the pitcher's shirt, changing with each relief pitcher... I found it amazing that she would have them all, and tote them there, and store them at her seat in a way as to quickly retrieve them; even with an obscure pinch-hitter.

4) Charge Buglers
Prior to the days of the organ/synthesiser or recorded versions, fans would bring bugles to the ball park. These musicians would trumpet, 'charge' at just the appropriate moment, without any given cue... There were always at least one there, but I don't recall any after the move from Connie Mack Stadium; I sorely miss them.

5) The Dancing Usher
There was an usher, who I'd would see in the Right Field stands, who would always dance to the music played between innings; he danced well and became fairly famous... One day, after a ball game, some idiots beat him up very severely in the parking lot, causing permanent damage to him... Quite a while later I did see him at his post, dancing, there were visible scars on his head and I thought that it was such a shame that there are idiots around that would do such a senseless thing.

6) Longtime Vendors [honorary fans]
From the days when I was a little kid I would see these men and women at Connie Mack Stadium, and they also followed the team over to the Vet; they seemed to be there forever, the same ones it seemed... To this day I can picture them in my head, and they all had their own little 'things' that made them unique; The first female vendor, she sold peanuts, the guy who would toss the peanut bags across entire rows, the young guy who would pretend to hold a transistor radio to his ear and say, "How about those Phils?"... There were also there, security guards, who appeared to be retired cops, and they too had personalities of their own. These stadium workers became so familiar to the fans... as stadiums became larger, and prices increased, and trips to the ballpark became fewer and farther apart -- and I suppose the workers began to change jobs more often -- these vendors seemed to be lost to the past.

7) Sean Young/The Dirty Thirty/The 700 Level
The Eagle fans are a breed of their own; fanatics each and every one of them... The leader is a 'face painter' who talks trash like a pro-wrestler and seems to always be asked to speak for all the fans, which he gladly does... I believe that he is a part of the thirty fans put together by WIP and Angelo Cataldi, the morning drive time radio personality; 'The Dirty Thirty', as they are called, are most known for making fools of themselves on national TV by booing the Eagle's choice of Donovan McNabb... when they wanted the Eagles to choose running back, Ricky Williams, who was later suspended from the NFL for smoking marijuana and refusing to quit doing so... The 700 Level was a level in the old Veteran's Stadium where the rowdier fans would sit; they had a reputation for causing trouble and they relished having the rep. They were the main reason that the Vet had to have it's own jail, judge and courtroom.

8) Eagle Pep band
The song, 'Fly, Eagles, Fly' has become very popular among the people of Philadelphia, and it was made famous by the unofficial Eagles' band... You can catch them at many pre and post eagle game rallies... They raise up the frenzy of the already revved up crowd.

The Flyers
9) Sign Man
He was the most famous of the Flyers faithful for so many years... a teacher with a 'perm' hairdo... he would have professional type signs at each and every game -- very advanced for that time... and even better than any sign there today -- He would have them folded in two and open them up with both hands, high above his head, at just the right time, from his seat in the front row, directly behind the goal. The signs would read, "Insert here" [with an arrow pointing down]... or, "Next Goalie"... always clever and always photographed for the papers, or captured on the TV cameras... You still see him but he no longer has the 'perm', and the signs are fewer, and you hardly notice them anymore -- in fact I can't remember seeing them anymore, hmmm.

10) Hair Man
The unofficial team heckler, he would come to every game, heckle the opposition's fans and the players during the pre-game warm-up skates... He wore an orange 'third' jersey with, 'Hair Man' written on the back, a 'punk' style orange and black spiked wig... and he would roam the arena and try to be a cheerleader in the stands... After the 'strike year' he came to less games and now I hardly ever see him there at all.

11) Tambourine Ladies
These elderly ladies could be seen at every game in the section next to my old section #6 in the Spectrum. They had tambourines that they played as they cheered their team on... Come to think of it, they may not have really been that elderly, but sure seemed to be in the days when I thought everybody older than Forty was ancient. They weren't famous to many people but they were notables to me and the people around them.

12) The Long Island Season Ticket Holders
One day on local television the Flyers ran a piece on a couple who lived in Long Island, NY and were Flyers Season Ticket Holders for many years... They would travel down for each and every home game in Philly; snow, sleet, rush-hour traffic... they attended them all. They showed them on TV and interviewed them; the very next game I went to I saw them in the concourse... What great fans, I thought... I wonder if they still drive to each game, past the Islanders' Nassau County Coliseum, past the Rangers' Madison Square Garden and past the Devils' swamplands... I wouldn't recognize them now so I like to believe that they do.

13) Jersey Guy
This is my son, Anthony and my favorite fan... Like most of the above names, we anointed him with his fan name... He is a large fairly young man who Anthony said looks like a young version of Alfred Hitchcock. He comes to each and every game alone and sits in the upper level at mid-ice. He has a gazillion Flyers jerseys and wears a different one to every game; he chooses them according to who was the star of the previous game -- if Gagne scored a couple of goals he may wear a #12 Gagne jersey, if it was Kapanen who excelled he might wear a #24 one, etc. -- Last season we knew he is upset over the state of the team and that he was protesting because we observed him wearing a Phantom's AHL theme jersey the one game. It was an old style Flyers jersey that the Phantoms wore one game; it had Joe Watson's name and number on the back and a Phantoms logo on the sleeve... Another game he wore a Forsberg Quebec Nordic's jersey... When the team playing much better we expected him to be back with the Flyers' current roster again, and he did... We always look forward to see what he is wearing every game; he has all-star ones, Olympic ones, a newer Reebok Practice one with Gagne's name and number... We even saw him at a Phantoms game during the strike year, and he was wearing a Phantoms jersey; and to top that, we saw him at a Phillies game with a Phillies uniform shirt on... We often wondered out loud if he attends all Philadelphia sporting events and wears jerseys for them all......... The best occurred one night; I was sitting in my living room when the phone rang, it was Anthony calling from the Survivor Series Pro Wrestling match at the Wachovia Center; he asked me, "Guess who's here?" and I knew who it just HAD TO BE, I replied to my son, "What is he wearing?" since I knew it was Jersey Guy... BTW: he had a Jeremiah Trotter Eagles Jersey. Even if we are the only ones aware of him, Jersey Guy has to be Philadelphia's all time greatest fan.

Bonus Fan... Shawney, The Dancing Guy

The latest addition is Sean... He arrived on the scene, I guess mid-season or so... He is a regular season ticket hold who attends every game and sits in the nose bleed section at the far end, upper level, directly behind the goal that the Flyers defend twice... He wear the same orange shirt every game and is a full figured dude... He gets up and dances at the stoppages and is often picked up on the Jumbo-tron and the fans go crazy cheering him. He has very quickly became a fan favorite and people await the third period stoppages where he struts his stuff for the Fan Cam... The Flyers have even picked up on it and use him for season ticket promos by filming him around the city with kids and other people dancing with him; it aired on the local television channels.


Avsfan19 said...

Nice read, FF. One question though, do you still think everyone over 40 is ancient? :)

ForeverFlyer16 said...

Hell no... I thought of you and Egg when I read what I actually typed a while ago. LOL

Since you read it before my editing. you may want to catch the Bonus fan I added... and his photo; You may be hearing a lot from him in the future.

Eggshmeg said...

Philly fans are certainly one of the better ones out there. That's why it was so sad seeing them not completely selling out Flyers games. Hopefully this year will be different, right FF?

I had no idea you were such a baseball fan. I'm rooting for the Phils to pass the Mets, what a wild ending last night, eh? Go Jays go!

ForeverFlyer16 said...

I was a season ticket holder -- 1st row, right off 3rd base, in shallow out field in Mike Schmidt's heyday -- I had them all through the glory years of the mid-Seventies thru tyhe mid-Eighties and I kept them into the early Nineties. And I attended many games before and after, home and away... I been to a few ballparks.

Today's game was even better than last night's.

As for the Flyers; there were actually only a hundred or so cheap seat unsold in the non-sellouts... That is because they hold back on selling all season tickets in order that others can get to attend games... There were a lot of no shows, but that is the case all over -- even moreso, from what I personally saw in other rinks -- Mostly from corporate and ticket agencies that can't sell them at huge mark ups... The bad season did have an effect I suppose... I won't lie... But overall the attendence is still good and will be even better this year, IMHO.

Pengal said...

great read.