Philadelphia Daily News - December 27, 1980

Surprise!  Philly’s Boo Birds Not the Worst


By Mike Kern


It's no secret that Philadelphia sports fans have a national reputation for being hard customers to please. They've been known to boo anything from Kiteman to the Easter Bunny. They've burned players in effigy. They've filled Franklin Field with chants of "Joe Must Go" until he went. Their behavior so infuriated Larry Bowa one night during the Phillies' pennant drive that he questioned their loyalty with a string of four-letter words you won't hear during the family hour. And that was after a win!


The city's sports fans have done little to enhance the national view of Philadelphia, which probably lies somewhere between such pleasure spots as Buffalo and Cleveland. But with unmemorables like Pancho Herrera, Los Atomes, the Blazers, Pete Liske and Roy Rubin in their past, they are entitled to more than an occasional Bronx Cheer.


Possibly due to the recent winning ways of the city's pro franchises, Philly's sporting faithful are no longer held in their accustomed low esteem. According to a poll of 97 sports writers throughout North America, they don't rake the bottom of the barrel anymore.


NEW YORK, THE city that Tug McGraw proclaimed could "stick it." is apparently one Big Apple that's rotten to the core.


The writers, in a poll released yesterday in the Boston Globe, rate New York's fans the worst behaved in the pro sports world. The New York fans collected 203 first-place points for the most unruly lot, followed by Philadelphia with 164, Boston-New England with 138, Chicago with 120 and San Antonio, which has only one major sports franchise, with 76.


Each of the 97 writers was asked to list the five cities where fans are the worst. New York fans came out the worst in baseball, football and hockey. A sampling of some remarks by the sports writers:


"Friday night crowds at New York baseball games put on better fights than those at Madison Square Garden – and without commercials," said Jack Lang of the New York Daily News.


"New York people are simply obnoxious. They heap abuse on opposing players," added Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


"(New York) Rangers fans are brutal," said Bob Keisser of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. "I recall (goalie) John Davidson coming back from a bad leg and a fan shouting, 'Why don't you break the other one?"


Geez, Dave Winfield is probably one bases-loaded whiff away from becoming target practice for the wolf packs in the left-field bleachers.


IN BASKETBALL, San Antonio's Baseline Bums – which Cathie Burnes of the Kansas City Star-Times said "... are paddling with both oars not in the water" – were named the worst in a landslide.


But Philly fans can take heart. They did retain some of their soiled reputation when they took the runner-up spot as the worst in basketball, along with third-place finishes in football, hockey and baseball.


They also gained some measure of disrespect when they were judged the most critical in football, basketball and baseball. And just to prove that they're cerebral, Philadelphia fans rated high on the "most knowledgeable" list in all four sports.



So the next time you're in Section 724, and the guy next to you with mustard stains on his Philadelphia Firebirds jacket screams at Dallas Green for staying too long with Ron Reed, pay attention. He's gaining new respect with each passing boo.