A Phillies broadcaster for 26 years from 1976 to 2001, Andy Musser, 74, passed away on Sunday. Musser called games not just for the Phillies, but also the Eagles, 76ers and several other organizations throughout his career.
Musser was a Philadelphia-area native and an Army veteran, making him a popular home-grown addition to the Philadelphia sports circuit. He worked as a broadcaster during many great moments including two World Series, two Super Bowls and two Masters Championships. Musser also called the division-clinching Mike Schmidt homer in 1980.
This is another sad day for the Phillies family. Musser was well-liked and respected and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this very difficult time.
The memorial service for Musser will be held at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Donations may be made to the church in lieu of flowers.
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Photo by Tom Gralish / Philly.com
Having baseball withdrawal yet? Me too. But it is never too soon to begin thinking about the upcoming baseball season. Anytime a new season is on the horizon, the chance to start over and hopes of success in the coming year breed anticipation.
It is this time of year that Phillies fans should sit down and make a practical list of important New Year Resolutions. Here are a few to get you started:
1. Be thankful that you are not a Mets fan. If you run into one, give them a hug. They really need it.
2. When at a game, be mindful of your children. If I wanted slimy, saliva-tainted cotton candy goo in my hair, I would have put it there myself.
3. Please refrain from cussing out loud at the game. There are children all around with sensitive ears. However, if their nasty, cotton-candy goo-infested hands land on you, this rule no longer applies.
4. We can all stop booing Jayson Werth now for moving to D.C.. His .232 batting average last season is punishment enough.
5. Start a petition to award Roy Halladay with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his bravery in saving a man in the Amazon after an anaconda attack. Could this guy be any more awesome? I think not. I have been up close and personal with such large snakes and can tell you, for Halladay to put himself in danger to save this guy was no small feat. And yes, that is really me in the photo.
6. On Dollar Dog Night, limit yourself to a five dog maximum. Take the other $15 dollars you saved and donate it to Phillies Charities. Your stomach will thank you.
7. I pledge to spend more of my offseason time supporting the Philadelphia Flyers and the 76ers. They have young, exciting teams and also deserve our support. (Do not talk to me about the Eagles though…ugh).
8. Do not yell at the umpires for being blind. The Americans With Disabilities Act says that blindness is a handicap and therefore, it is politically incorrect to poke fun at blind people.
9. For God’s sake, stop spilling your beer at games! The puddles created from the morons behind you flow downward and under your seat, soaking whatever bags you laid there. If you cannot avoid spilling your drinks, please go back to Kindergarten and relearn this skill.
10. Be kind to people, even if they suck or are cheering for an opposing team. You will eventually get back what you give.
I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
On Thursday evening, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame inducted the Class of 2011. The Hall of Fame’s 8th class includes: Bill Bergey, Biz Mackey, Curt Simmons, Dawn Staley, Ed and Steve Sabol, Jimmy Dykes, Joe McCarthy, Moses Malone, Mark Howe, Ora Washington, Ted Meredith, Wilbert Montgomery, Speedy Morris, Al Meltzer and the Penn Relays (Special Enshrinement). These chosen athletes have had exceptional careers in their particular sport, either with a Philadelphia team or having grown up in the Philadelphia area and gone on to an outstand sports career elsewhere.
For the Phillies, the highlight of the evening was seeing Curt Simmons be inducted. Simmons was a left-handed pitcher for the Phillies from 1947-1960 during a 20-year career. He and Robin Roberts were the aces of the 1950 “Whiz Kids” National League championship team. Simmons, 82, is the youngest surviving player of that team.
A former Eagles favorite and 3-time team MVP, Bill Bergey was also an inductee this year. He received an impromptu introduction from his former coach, Dick Vermeil, who was actually in attendance to accept Wilbert Montgomery’s award. As usual, Vermeil got emotional and struggled through sobs to express his feelings about Bergey. The two men shared a hug afterwards and Bergey went on to dazzle the crowd with his enthusiasm and humor.
After the ceremony, I spoke with Vermeil about his speech. He told me, “I just get so emotional over these guys I coached. I can’t help myself.” It is refreshing to see a former coach who honestly cares about his players and clearly still holds Philadelphia close to his heart. Vermeil maintains his permanent residence in Chester County and is a regular attendee at these events.
One of the best moments of the evening was watching Mark Howe accept this honor in front of his father, Gordie Howe, who is regarded as the best hockey player in history. Both men are now members of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto; Mark is part of their 2011 class. Mark Howe played for the Flyers from 1982-1992 during which he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy 3 times.
Father and son spent most of the night signing autographs and posing for photos. But during all the flash bulbs popping, Gordie Howe paused for a moment to hand me some flowers that he accidentally pilfered from a table arrangement. And that was my personal highlight of the evening. Flowers from Mr. Hockey…wow.
The evening featured many other great moments, including a video presentation by Bill Cosby on behalf of the Penn Relays. Representative for the Penn Relays were excited about the honor and posed together for a photo after receiving their award.
There were a few notable absences from the event. Ed and Steve Sabol were unable to attend so Greg Cosell, an NFL Films producer for 31 years, accepted on their behalf. Moses Malone, former 76ers great, NBA Hall of Famer and 3-time MVP, was also absent.
In addition to the inductees, there were many sportswriters, former players, coaches and other friends of Philadelphia sports there to support the newest members of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. You can see some of those people plus the inductees here in my Photo Album from the event and order prints, if you wish.
In all, the 2011 induction was a great success. Congratulations to all of the inductees!
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
December 15th is a historical date. In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law. In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol. Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did. And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday. However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.
The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.
Four Aces Are Better Than Three
The entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better. Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.
All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title. Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86. If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.
Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better. This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates.
Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense. Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive. After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.
The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect
The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media. Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone.
Yes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game. The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it? That was in 1968. It is officially time to let it go.
There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly. Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield. Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008. But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.
About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.” Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”
Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here. Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.
Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List
Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning.
The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone. No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.
The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing. Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia. Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.
But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon. They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years. So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.
Jayson Who? Losing Werth Is Not So Bad
There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals. Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.
The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team. They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.
Pitching wins ballgames. The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.
Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that. But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money. Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere. Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.
Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend
A Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980. His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time. Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965. Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield. He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended. Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.
Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series. Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason. Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing. However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.
The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base. His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite. He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.
To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement. Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move. Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.
And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010. The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro.
Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen. The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough. This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.
Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it. He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader. More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization. They know he wants to win both now and in the future.
The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history. All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Earlier today, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2010. This 7th class for the Hall will be officially inducted during a ceremony which will take place on Thursday, November 11. 2010. These chosen athletes have had exceptional careers in their particular sport, either with a Philadelphia team or having grown up in the Philadelphia area and gone on to an outstand sports career elsewhere.
Here are the inductees:
Several inductees were present at the press conference and spoke with the media. Closer Tug McGraw played 10 years with the Phillies and is best known for recording the final out of the 1980 World Series.
Sadly, McGraw passed away in 2004 from a brain tumor. His son, Mark McGraw, who currently works as an actor, was there to speak on his behalf.
Mark McGraw said, “Well I think you all know how much my Dad loved the city of Philadelphia and especially the fans. And to be honored into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is an honor for our family, it’s an honor for our Tug McGraw Foundation and Team McGraw which continues on Tug’s legacy and (pause), excuse me, it’s a bit emotional for me, and a very proud moment for Tug if he was here. And we’re very excited to be honored and representing our father and Tug McGraw into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame and we thank them very much.”
Former Philadelphia Eagles receiver, Mike Quick, also spoke at the press conference. Quick played 9 seasons for the Eagles and still lives in the area. He noted that he has been in Philadelphia for 30 years now, which is longer than his time in North Carolina where he grew up. “To me now, this (Philadelphia) is really home,” Quick said, “My kids grew up here, I became a man here and I am very pleased that the Hall of Fame had decided to invite me as one of the inductees.”
Phil Jasner is a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and currently covers the 76ers. He is to be awarded the “Legacy of Excellence” award and induction into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for an outstanding career as a sports journalist. Jasner also grew up in the area and graduated from Temple University. Always entertaining, Jasner did not disappoint today saying, “I asked Marcia, my life partner, if she’d still love me when I’m old and miserable. And she said, ‘Of course I do.'”
But the real highlight of the day for me personally was having the opportunity to speak with former Phillie, Dick Allen. Allen played for the Phillies from 1963-1969 and 1975-1976. He earned the NL “Rookie of the Year” award in 1964 and was a 3-time All-Star with the Phillies. His early career in Philadelphia was marred by several personal incidents.
Allen played during a time when racism was still prominent in America and certainly, in baseball. Allen was subjected to racial slurs and taunting by both fans and fellow players. In 1965, he got into a fight with a white teammate, Frank Thomas. Thomas hit Allen in the shoulder with a bat and was released the next day. Fans blamed Allen for the dismissal of Thomas and his problems were only exasperated by his own temper and demeanor, which were often seen as negative.
However, when I spoke with Allen today after the press conference, I saw a kind, gentle human being with a great sense of humor. Allen asked if I was going to take his picture and I told him I would.
He then pinched me on the arm, winked and told me, “You are such a pretty girl, I should be taking your picture.” Ok, so I’ll take flattery wherever I can get it. But that aside, Allen stayed to speak with reporters for an extended time after the press conference and was gracious and forthcoming with everyone he spoke to.
When asked about his difficulties back in the 60’s, Allen said, “Mother sat me down and had a long talk with me,” and went on to say his mother also taught him about the importance of forgiveness. Another question arose about the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many think Allen should be in the Hall, but may have been snubbed because of his earlier temperament. Allen’s numbers certainly warrant a bid to the Hall. Allen’s career stats include a batting average of .292, a slugging % of .534, and his on-base % was 378.
When asked about a possible bid for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Allen said, “I don’t even know how that works. Maybe politics or something like that. I don’t know. I think everything speaks for itself. Possibly had I been a little kinder to some of the writers or maybe the right persons along the way, I don’t know.” But ultimately, he said has always been at peace with everything. Allen stated, “I played it all and gave it my heart so I am particularly enjoying this,” referring to his Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction.
I particularly enjoyed meeting and speaking with Mr. Allen. I would like to thank him for taking the time to talk to me. I would also like to thank all the other attendees and especially the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for inviting me to the press conference. Congratulations to all the inductees!
For more information on the PSHOF, visit www.phillyhall.org.
Here is the full Photo Album from the press conference.
Photosby Jenn Zambri Photography
This past Tuesday, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame hosted their 4th annual Golf Classic at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club. The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Philly sports history which inducts new members annually.
The golf event was attended by many Philadelphia stars, including former Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles, along with broadcasters and other special guests. I was asked to be the photographer for the event, which was in honor of the memory of Harry Kalas. This is a tribute table with a few of Harry’s belongings and memorabilia:
The day included a putting contest, lunch, shotgun golf round, live and silent auctions, a million dollar hole-in one contest and the “High Hopes” reception and dinner. Much of the time was spent by chatting with VIP guests as well as enjoying the golf course. By the way, former Phillie Darren Daulton promised me the Phillies would be snapping out of their current funk very soon. I am holding him to that.
From top to bottom, left to right, here is Darren along with Greg Luzinski, Terry Harmon, Andy Ashby, Tyler Green, Mike Mamula (former Eagle), someone I do not know and Dickie Noles. If you know who the mystery guest is, feel free to let me know ;o)
Other sports were represented as well. This next photo collage includes former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, former Eagles player Chuck Bednarik who was showing me his bent finger, former Eagles Eddie Khayat and Vince Papale and former Flyer, Bernie Parent, possibly the most entertaining man on the planet. If you have never met Bernie, you are missing out on a real treat. The man is a ball of energy and funnier than most professional comedians:
I have tons of other photos which show many other big stars from the day and all of the events that went on. Feel free to check that out. Thanks to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame for inviting me! It was a memorable day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
On Monday night, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association held their 106th annual awards banquet in Cherry Hill, NJ. The PSWA honors athletes in every sport around the Philadelphia area. The event is usually hosted by the great Harry Kalas, but sadly, he is no longer with us. This same event last year was the last time I spoke with Harry. This year, the PSWA invited his son, Todd Kalas, who spoke with great affection and admiration about his father. I have video of the speech that you can watch below.
The tone of the banquet was still very upbeat and in usual PSWA style, many great athletes and coaches from the area were honored in grand fashion. The Phillies were awarded “Team of the Year” which was accepted by Charlie Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. accepted the award for “Executive of the Year.” Former Phillie and current advisor, Dickie Noles was given the “Humanitarian” award and Von Hayes was there also as a guest.
The next set of photos are of Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro Jr., me with broadcasters Scott Franzke and Tom McCarthy and Phillies PA announcer, Dan Baker.
The following video shows speeches from Todd Kalas, Amaro and Manuel. Note the “jokes” about the Cliff Lee trade; Amaro playfully blamed it on Charlie. Sorry Ruben, I fail to see the humor. Ok, don’t get me started on that…here’s the video:
There were plenty of other sports icons in attendance, including the 76ers Willie Green who got the “Good Guy” award, Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Eagles player Brent Celek who was named the “Outstanding Professional Athlete” of 2009:
We also heard from Andrew Bailey who was given the “Native Son” award; Bailey grew up in the Philly area and won Rookie of the Year for the American League in 2009 as the closer for the Oakland A’s. Ruben asked who his agent was and tried to steal him away…no success I’m afraid.
The MVP of the Army Navy Game, Ricky Dobbs, was also honored as well as Jay Wright, head coach of Villanova basketball, Fran Dunphy of Temple basketball , the 1960 Eagles and many others. The full list of honorees can be seen at the PSWA web site. I also put together a Photo Album from the event which shows many of these people as well.
The highlight of the night may have been comedian Joe Conklin who does impressions of his favorite Philly sports figures. His Cole Hamels impersonation is hysterical. Take a look:
And finally, here is clip of a program that will air this Thursday at 11pm on 6-ABC Philadelphia. The show is about the Phillies Off-Season and will include some photos that I took during the 2010 Phillies Cruise last month :O)
If you live in the Philly area, set the DVR or tune in at 11pm on 2/4/10.
Photos by Jenn