Philadelphia Inquirer - October 28, 1980
Phillies put Philly on the map
By Dan Rottenberg, Op-Ed
Most of us spend our lives driven by a compulsion to prove ourselves or impress other people. But one of the advantages of being born and raised in New York City, I have found, is that you never have to worry about impressing anyone. Merely coming from New York is sufficient.
This may not be so in Philadelphia, which about 10 years ago was "discovered" by unhappy New Yorkers who wanted (a) an escape from New York's hassles and high prices, (b) a sophisticated urban lifestyle and (c) a home within commuting distance to their jobs in New York.
In other words, these New Yorkers wanted to have their cake and eat it, too, so they moved to Philadelphia. Today, Philadelphia has such a large colony of ex-New Yorkers that nobody here thinks New Yorkers are very special anymore.
But my thesis was certainly valid when I lived in the Midwest. At cocktail parties or press functions in Chicago the mere mention that I grew up in New York was usually sufficient to bring bank presidents, newspaper editors, society matrons and corporation executives clustering ground me as if they'd just discovered Robert Redford.
I could have been the biggest dope in the room, but it didn't matter; I was from New York, hence I must be exciting.
Philadelphians got a whiff of this nonsensical prestige-by-association during the Phillies euphoric World Series week. The population of metropolitan Philadelphia consists of only 25 major league baseball players, and they are vastly outnumbered by our armies of paper pushers, salespeople, lathe operators, housewives, janitors and TV general managers.
But in the eyes of the rest of the country, all four million of us suddenly became Del Unsers, Tug McGraws and Mike Schmidts, nonchalantly producing one miracle after another under awesome last-minute pressure.
I discovered just how sexy Philadelphia has become while working on a most un-sexy magazine article about money market funds. In the midst of the Series – when the Phillies were leading by two games to none – I spent a day telephoning money market funds around the country to ask for their prospectuses.
In each case, I had only to dial a toll-free "800" number and leave my address with some faceless broker or secretary who sits by the phone taking such addresses all day long. And in each case, when I got to the final line of my address – "Philadelphia, Pa." – the bored voice on the other end suddenly came alive.
"You're really in Philadelphia," gasped one voice in Minneapolis, envying my good judgment in choosing to live where the action is.
"But I just saw you on television last night," said a voice in Baltimore. Of course she had not seen me personally, but who makes such piddling distinctions at a time like this?
And so it went, call after call, each melancholy voice in Boston or Chicago or Detroit implying that life must be infinitely richer and more rewarding in the gallant company of Philadelphians, especially around South Broad Street.
Some of my voices tried to establish their own connections, however tenuous, with Philadelphia, just as people I know sometimes try to demonstrate their sophistication via some dubious link with New York. "My sister lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey," volunteered a voice at Liquid Capital Income in Cleveland. "She's been a Phillies fan since 1941. I'm so happy for her I could just bust."
At Midwest Income Investment Company in Cincinnati, the telephone voice advised me that Philadelphia wouldn't have made it to the World Series "if you' hadn't stolen away Pete Rose.''
'Well," I replied, warming to the gme, "if you folks had treated him better, maybe you'd be in the Series how instead of us." Both the voice and; I conveniently overlooked the fact that the general populations of Cincinnati and Philadelphia had nothing at all to do with deciding where Pete Rose earns his living.
Given the difficulty of pinning down causes and effects, it's impossible to say how much of a difference Rose really made to either team. But at least Rose has the satisfaction of knowing that people believe his difference was critical – just as people now seem to believe that all Philadelphians are six-foot-two and capable of delivering with two out in the top of the ninth.
This makes no more sense than the notion that all New Yorkers hang around with Woody Allen at Elaine's. Nor does it make any more sense than the old notion that all Philadelphians are middle-aged coupon clippers living on the Main Line.
You have to say this much for over-simplification – it may not be accurate, but it sure is fun. Especially when it involves the overnight lionizing of a city that's been ridiculed for centuries.
Now their hearts belong to the City of Brotherly Love
By Susan Dundon, Special to The Inquirer
The first time I saw Philadelphia was in the month of May. Then I was a resident of Montreal, and if there is anyone who can appreciate Philadelphia in May, it is a resident of Montreal. We had left the melting snow and the bare trees to walk in the sun through Rittenhouse Square with an old friend and a soft pretzel.
A word about the soft pretzel: It served a two-fold purpose. Not only was it a taste of local color, but it staved off the nausea and the intermittent gagging that often characterize what is known as the first trimester of pregnancy. Were it not for spring, I might have forever associated Philadelphia with that feeling.
It did not occur to us that we would live here; but then we found ourselves moving our furniture into a suburban garden apartment. And from a suburban garden apartment to a suburban house. And from a suburban house to a city house. But soft pretzels and spring notwithstanding, we were not going to stay here. We were just looking around. Our house was a hotel between Philadelphia and the rest of our lives. One day we knew that we would pack up and get on with it.
Well, we've had a few long weekends. Flirtations, nothing serious. In this, our 10th year of being in transition, we are prepared to come out of the closet and acknowledge our allegiance. This is our town. For me, the sudden sense of belonging came, ironically, in a state liquor store, that most odious of Pennsylvania institutions.
It was the Saturday night that the Phillies won the Eastern Division against Montreal, and I was loitering around the shelves of soave. I say loitering because the radio was on in the store manager's office and the information came spilling out into the aisles that Mike Schmidt was at bat.
I could have simply grabbed a bottle of Folonari by the neck and checked out; but I hung around, waiting to see whether Schmidt was going to do something worthy of his reputation – which isn't like me. You see, a year ago, I might have said, so who's Mike Schmidt? Now I paced up and down, chewing the insides of my cheek like Dallas Green in the dugout.
When Schmidt hit that home run, I could tell by the bubbles in the bottle that I was a Philadelphian. It isn't often that I dance with a magnum of white wine. And I could see, 2½ miles away, another member of my family, a 14-year-old, leaping and shrieking in front of a television set. Would he have been as happy at that moment if we had stayed in Montreal?
He wouldn't, at least, have a Philadelphia accent, which a foreigner from Louisville has accused him of having acquired. We deny it, of course. It's one thing to wake up one day and discover that you're a Phillies fan, anchored securely to the City of Brotherly Love; but for your children to have an accent is serious. It means that you can't go home again. It means roots in the tri-state area, Ben Franklin, and hoagies. It means Fall Classics flashbacks from 1980 of The Team That Wouldn't Die and remembering Veterans Stadium.
I thought of this the other night as I sat watching Babe Ruth, in his baggy flannels, run around Yankee Stadium looking like Spanky of "Our Gang." We had lived in New York, and my father had been a Yankees fan. (I doubt that anyone who rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers ever entered our living room; but that may have been a coincidence.) I don't think that I was a Yankee fan, exactly, although I was always willing to say I was if they were winning.
In any event, Yankee Stadium and all of the great names that were associated with it are permanent fixtures, files in the twisting canals of memory. Yogi Berra was one. To say his name out loud could almost make me feel like a New Yorker again. What, I wondered, would the names of the present Phillies do to my son in three decades?
I think I know. There is a small, white T-shirt in our linen closet that will never be washed. It has been folded, and put aside as though it were a piece of family lace. Drawn in a child's hand with a red felt-tipped pen are lines precisely one inch apart down the front, down the back and on the sleeves. A dark, thick line marks the shoulders and the sides. On the right, front side of the shirt is the number "10." On the left side, over the heart, is a big, red letter "P." Across the back it says BOWA.
Series and pennant trophies on display in Center City
The World Series and National League pennant trophies won by the Phillies this month will be on display on the Chestnut Street side of the Girard Bank, Broad and Chestnut Streets, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.