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
Cliff Lee must be wishing that the month of June would never end. Because he has been insanely good in each of his five starts this month.
Today’s 5-0 win over the Red Sox marked Lee’s 32nd consecutive scoreless inning pitched. With only two hits allowed, this game was Lee’s third consecutive complete game shut-out. The last Phillie to accomplish that feat was Robin Roberts in 1950.
For the month, Lee went 5-0 and had only one run allowed in 42 innings. The man is simply amazing.
But Lee did not just pitch well, he also collected an RBI with a sac fly. And while Lee dealt on the mound and at the plate, the Phillies offense pounded Josh Beckett. A pair of two run homers, one from Domonic Brown and the other from Shane Victorino, highlighted the scoring. Brown also had a double on the night.
With this victory, the Phillies became the first team in the majors to reach 50 wins this season.
Vance Worley will pitch tomorrow. And after Lee’s performance tonight, he has very big shoes to fill. Game time is 7:05pm.
The Phillies placed closer Ryan Madson on the DL before today’s game. After getting whacked in the hand with hit ball back in May, Madson has had issues off and on and finally needed a cortisone shot to reduce the chronic swelling.
This means that the Phillies are now on their fourth closer of the season, which will likely be Antonio Bastardo. Each of the first three closers, Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras and Madson, are all on the DL now. Drew Carpenter was brought up from Triple-A to fill the roster spot.
Of the seven pitchers left in the bullpen, only two have not been in the minors this year and only Danys Baez has more than 71 innings pitched in the majors. Scary.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the final game of the series against the Blue Jays who served as the home team in Philly this weekend, the Phillies walked away with an 11-2 win. The 47-year old pitcher, Jamie Moyer, walked away with his 9th win of year and a few more entries in the baseball record books.
Moyer gave up a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning which propelled him past former Phillie Robin Roberts for the most home runs allowed by any pitcher. The 506 record breaking home runs were allowed to a total of 322 different batters in 42 different ballparks. There has been some debate over whether or not Moyer should be proud of such a record. But this type of record simply means that he has been pitching for a very, very long time. Not too many other players have been around this long.
Adding to that thought, Moyer broke another record today. He became only the 40th player in history to have pitched 4,000 innings. This is another testament to the longevity of Moyer’s career. And to still be pitching, and being successful, at his age is just amazing. He went 7 innings against the Jays on Sunday and that 2-run homer mentioned earlier was the only scoring he allowed.
Jimmy Rollins helped jump start the offense with a single in the first at-bat of the game. Rollins ended with 3 hits, each hit to a different part of the ballpark; one down each baseline and one up the middle. Rollins plus Ben Francisco and Dane Sardinha each had 2 RBI a piece. Francsico looked good in left and was 3 for 5 at the plate. Could this be the end of Raul Ibanez as an everyday player? If Ibanez does not start hitting, it very well could.
So the bats were popping and some great defensive plays highlighted the win as well. Both Rollins and Jayson Werth were all over the place snagging balls out of the air:
The Phillies were ahead 7-2 by the 7th inning and that is when the bottom really fell out for the Jays. The play on the field began to resemble a long series of sight gags that The Three Stooges may have attempted in one of their comedy bits. Throws by Jays fielders sailed into no-man’s land, balls were mishandled and there was even a passed ball at the plate. By the end of the 7th, the Jays had committed 3 errors, 4 total for the game, and the Phillies had scored a total of 6 unearned runs in the 11-2 win.
Wilson Valdez, who is officially the Master at hitting into double plays, tried to do so twice in this game only to have his attempts foiled by the Jays sloppy defense. Darn those errant throws! Wilson is clearly going for some sort of DP record and they may have ruined his chances. (Please note the sarcasm in the above paragraph)
The series win went to the Phillies with 2 out of 3 games. To commemorate this unique occasion of playing an American League game in a National league ballpark while giving home field to the AL team (did you follow all that?), I have put together a short “Canadian’s In Philly” montage:
Is it just me, or does the woman hugging both the Blue Jays stuffed toy and the Phanatic stuffed toy seem confused? Or perhaps a tad conflicted? We wish her well.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies pulled out a win today, although it was with heavy hearts. One of the best Phillies pitchers of all time, Robin Roberts, passed away today at age 83 of natural causes. Roberts played for the Phillies from 1948 – 1961 and in his entire career he had a 3.41 ERA over 676 games which included 305 complete games.
Roberts was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976 and has been a regular around the Phillies for all these years. Roberts returned to Philly every year for annual induction ceremonies, special events and attended Spring Training each year as well.
Actually, Roberts was scheduled to attend a golf and dinner outing in honor of Harry Kalas in just a few weeks, along with many other Hall of Famers. I have been invited to the event and was very much looking forward to seeing him and having the opportunity to chat with him. But more than being very saddened by this news for that reason, I am terribly sorry for his family and the entire Phillies organization. My heart goes out to everyone who knew him. He was a very special individual.
But the game went on today despite the sad news and the Phillies won it for him. With the 1950 pennant hung at half mast and a black drape around Robert’s Wall of Fame plaque, Roy Halladay took the mound and was a true professional, as usual. Against the Cardinals, he pitched 7 innings and allowing only 1 earned run, Halladay was not super sharp, but still extremely effective.
Halladay walked 3 batters and had a lot of base runners; in the 7th inning with two outs and 2 men on, it even looked like manager Charlie Manuel may pull him from the game. Manuel went out to the mound but with a stern look on his face, Halladay convinced him that he could finish the inning. And with that, it only took one pitch to Matt Holliday to end it. This guy is amazing.
Jayson Werth had a special connection to Roberts as they grew up in the same town and spoke about that often; Werth channeled his grief into a huge game at the plate. He hit 2 doubles and a 3-run homer in the game. Werth did commit an error in right field when the wind and sun helped him drop a fly ball, but no one was complaining after his offensive output.
Carlos Ruiz had a 3-hit day as well with Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard collecting 2 hits each. Ibanez hit a solo homer in the 5th for the 900th RBI of his career. The opposing pitcher, Kyle Loshe, lasted only 4 innings and allowed 5 of the Phillies 7 runs, although 2 were unearned due to errors. Actually, it was a sloppy game all around defensively with each team committing 2 errors a piece.
The umpires did not have a clean game either. Andy Fletcher, who played the villain in Game 1 of this series, had another blooper today. While trying to turn a double play, the Cards Albert Pujols had to jump off first base to catch the ball for the 3rd out of the inning. Replay showed that as Wilson Valdez crossed the bag, Pujols was in mid-air and not on the bag. Valdez was called out by Fletcher who refused to argue with Manuel after the play and walked away. The home plate umpire had some questionable calls as well, but Halladay handled him with a quick chat after the 5th inning.
So the Phillies walk away with a 3 games to 1 series victory over the Cardinals, the best team in the National League. Although now, the Phillies have just 1 less win than the Cards and hold a 2 game lead for first place in the NL East. Tomorrow at 7:05pm, they will begin a 3-game series with the Braves and Jamie Moyer will pitch. The Phillies will begin wearing #36 patches on their jersey’s tomorrow as well in honor of Robin Roberts.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies held a memorial service at the ballpark today for Harry Kalas, which they shared with the fans, as well as Harry’s friends and family. Fans were able to pass by Harry’s casket, which sat on the field behind home plate, and were then seated to watch the services. This beautiful and extremely moving program included speeches from Mike Schmidt, Richard Ashburn, Mayor Michael Nutter, Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer, and many other friends of Harry. The entire Phillies team attended the memorial, first passing by the casket to pay their respects, and then sitting in the stands behind home plate. Phillies of the past were also in attendance, including Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski, Larry Christianson, Garry Maddox, Robin Roberts and many more.
The big tear-jerker of the day came when all Phillies players, past and present, were asked to take the field; they lined up two by two and literally lifted Harry’s casket and passed it down the line through each others hands until they reached the hearse. Those players at the end of the line, including Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Brett Myers, Carlos Ruiz and others, gently placed the casket into the rear of the hearse and everyone watched as Harry was driven out of the ballpark. Many were unable to contain their emotions and tears flowed freely. When I saw Shane Victorino crying, who just lost his grandmother in October, my heart sunk. To think what all these players have gone through this week, as well as everyone who knew Harry, is just heartbreaking.
What a tragic start to the 2009 season for the Phillies, who all seem to be downtrodden by this turn of events. All we can hope now is that they can filter those emotions into a positive, and dedicate their season to Harry’s memory.
The Phillies have lost 3 in a row now with tonight’s 8-5 loss to the Padres, despite a great outing from Brett Myers. Myers notched a quality start with 6 2/3 innings pitched and 3 runs allowed; he even contributed with a double at the plate and a run scored. But for the 2nd night in a row, Ryan Madson came in and gave the Padres the lead with one run allowed in the 8th. Chase Utley tied the game up again in the bottom of the inning with a lead-off home run to right.
Raul Ibanez followed with single and then his amazing base running landed him on 3rd base after a Jayson Werth single. With one out, Pedro Feliz collected the RBI on sac fly and Ibanez crossed home plate, giving the lead to the Phillies, 5-4. But that lead would not hold for long.
Brad Lidge, as expected, pitched the 9th inning, hoping to remain perfect in save opportunities. After receiving his award before the game for that perfect 2008 record, Lidge finally blew a save tonight, ending his streak of 47 in a row. And he didn’t just blow it; he really, really blew it. In 2/3 of an inning, Lidge gave up 4 runs, the majority of which came on a Kevin Kouzmanoff 3-run homer. That inning really took the wind out of the sails for the Phillies, and they went down easily in the bottom of the 9th.
Tomorrow’s game against the Padres will begin at 1:35pm with Chan Ho Park on the mound. I will be there, and hopefully, the Phillies can get things back on track. Maybe the Phanatic’s birthday celebration will lighten the mood? One can only hope…
Photos by Jenn
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Before I get to the steroids fun, just a quick update on Chase Utley’s hip surgery recovery; Comcast Sportsnet reported that Utley began fielding grounders and doing some light running in Clearwater yesterday. This means he is ahead of the projected recovery schedule and could be ready for Opening Day. I will be in Clearwater in only 8 days and will continue updating his progress for you from there.
And now for some fun! In this very sad and depressing time with roid rage running rampant, I felt some good cheer was in order. Watch and listen:
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