Part 7: Philadelphia Phillies
And so we resume. We’re back in the National League East, visiting one of the oldest franchises in the sport.
Citizens Bank has been the sole title sponsor of the Phils’ home park since its opening in 2004. I never hear much about this one, so I’m guessing it’s just a generic new-style park, an improvement on the Vet but, ironically, somewhat indistinguishable from the other parks of its era.
The Vet, of course, was almost entirely indistinguishable from many of the digs of fellow original NL franchises – the Pirates’ Three Rivers on the other side of the state, the Reds’ Riverfront along the Ohio River and the Cards in Busch 1.0. The most memorable characteristic of Vet was its turf, a surface employed to cut diamonds in the offseason, and the legendary, let’s call it passion, of its home fans.
The Phillies have a long history, though most of it is pretty pathetic. But it’s in Philly, so finding a nice replacement name should be simple. On the other hand, the club has called Philadelphia home and itself the Phillies longer than any other North American sports franchise, so resistance to change runs deep.
We can subtitle this one The Gang Renames a Stadium.
Name: Citizen’s Bank Park 2004-present.
Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Veteran’s Stadium, 1971-2003; Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium* 1938-1970; Baker Bowl/National League Park/Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds 1887-1938; Recreation Park 1883-1886.
Distinctive Features: Ashburn Alley, a pathway named in honor of Phils’ great and former broadcaster Richie Ashburn; a view of the downtown skyline; statues of Ashburn and other all-time Phils Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts; Home Team Success.
Ballpark Highlights: In 2007, St. Louis handed the Phils a 10-2 loss, marking the 10,000th loss in franchise history. The setback made the Phillies the first pro sports team to reach quintuple digits in Ls.
In happier home team news, on the season’s final day the Phils knocked off the Washington Nationals 6-1. Coupled with a Mets loss moments earlier, it capped off a furious late-season charge to the division title, helping dim memories of their own collapse 43 years earlier.
Two days after the first pitch was thrown, Brad Lidge struck out World Series fixture Eric Hinske to wrap up the club’s second World Series title in 2008. The game had been suspended by rain two nights earlier in the top of the sixth with the score tied 2-2, though the Rays had entered the inning trailing 2-1. In the wake of the suspension, Bud Selig determined that postseason contests could not be stopped before nine innings had been played, an entirely sensible ruling.
In 2010, in his first playoff appearance in his 13th big league season, Roy Halladay (RIP Doc) became the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter when he blanked the Reds 4-0, fanning eight and walking just one. Earlier in the season, the future Hall of Famer tossed a perfect game in Miami.
*Shibe Park opened in 1909, though it was used exclusively by the Athletics until the clubs began a time-share arrangement from 1938-54.