With all four of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams in action at present, Philadelphia sports fandom is in full swing, pass, dribble, and slap shot. And with most eyes on the Phillies and their quest for a repeat World Series championship against the Yankees, the New York Times has posted a nice piece on the essential character of the Philadelphia fan.
Mike Tanier’s “In Philadelphia, Heroes With a Lunch Pail” (Saturday, October 31, 2009) proposes the “Schmidt-Schultz Fan Appreciation Axis,” with the cooly reliable Mike Schmidt, a star by any measure, less appreciated than Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, who helped the Flyers win consecutive Stanley Cups with his grit (and his fists):
Most cities would treasure Mike Schmidt, a three-time most valuable player who led the Phillies to their first World Series title. Philly old-timers, however, swear that Schmidt stank in the clutch, his 548 home runs somehow producing only 274 runs batted in.
Philly fans preferred Greg Luzinski, a portly slugger who played left field like a brontosaurus flailing in a tar pit. Schmidt was aloof and sensitive, Luzinski flabby and fun.
While Mike Tanier interjects a few incendiary jabs typical of most writing about Philadelphia sports fans—”Philadelphia’s most beloved sports legends provided hooliganism and success”—the article nonetheless provides a fair look at the social and emotional context surrounding sports’ finest, most passionate fans.
(Image courtesy of Vincent J. Brown via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives licence.)