Frank Dolson, another long-time Inquirer writer, speaks for all of us on this day. Usually known for being crusty, Philadelphia fans on this day were practically gushing in their adoration of the Phillies, especially Tug McGraw. Dolson's article shows some of that, as well as the reactions of some of the Phils' players and personnel.
|From the October 23, 1980
edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
A Day for a City to Fall in Love
By Frank Dolson
The day dawned bright and beautiful, but it didn’t really matter. It could have been raining, sleeting, snowing in Philadelphia and the day would have dawned bright and beautiful.
This was the day the inhabitants of the nation’s fourth largest city temporarily put aside all their problems, all their worries, all their fears and joined as one in a salute to a professional baseball team.
It was a day when the incessant honking of horns signaled the winning of a championship, not a rush-hour traffic jam on the Schuylkill Expressway.
It was a day when Broad Street was transformed into a pulsating, surging sea of red hats and white pennants, a day when the old stadium in South Philly, the one that’s so big not even the Army-Navy game can fill it anymore, had people sitting- or standing- in the very top row, while thousands more waited outside to catch a glimpse of the athletes who, in the last 2½ weeks, had won a division title, a pennant and a World Series in the most dramatic manner imaginable.
Above all, it was a day when people remembered how to smile again.
This may be a city known for its tough, uncompromising sports fans, but on this bright and beautiful day guys named Schmidt and Bowa and Carlton and Maddox and McBride and Trillo and Boone and Rose and Luzinski- and especially McGraw- had this city, and those fans in the palms of their hands.
It didn’t matter that Bob Boone had struggled through so much of the long season, that mere mention of his name in the starting lineup had resulted in boos a month or so ago. On this day they loved him. It didn’t matter that Larry Bowa had incurred the wrath of the natives late last month by criticizing this town’s sports fans following a particularly grueling 15-inning struggle with the Cubs. On this day they loved him.
On this day, it seemed, almost everybody in Philadelphia- certainly every last person along a parade route that started north of City Hall and wound up at Kennedy Stadium- loved everybody else.
There have been parades before. There have been victory celebrations before. But there was something special and beautiful about this one. More than a parade, more than an excuse for hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians to wave pennants and put on red hats and shirts and climb trees and cling from lamp posts and hang out of windows and jam five, six, 10 deep along Broad Street and holler themselves hoarse, this was a day to laugh, to be happy, to feel good about yourself and your city.
Affairs such as this can grow messy, violent, downright scary. The line between a mass celebration and an out-and-out riot is only to easy to cross. But just as the 65,000-plus at the Vet Tuesday night brought honor to the city by their civilized actions, so did the half million or so who lines the streets yesterday and the mob that filed the huge horseshoe in South Philly.
A city that has become known over the years for its boobirds yesterday was filled with what can best be described as lovebirds.
“Love.” The word kept popping up along the parade route. The people loved the Phillies, they loved Tug, they loved Schmitty, they loved Lefty, they loved the idea of being No. 1.
Confetti, streamers, toilet paper floated down from the tall buildings near City Hall as the caravan of flatbed trucks rolled east along Market Street, then south on Broad. The noise, at times, was almost deafening- every bit as loud as it had been the night before at the Vet when McGraw threw that third strike past Willie Wilson with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. And yet, through it all, there was an overwhelming feeling of warmth of happiness, endless rows of smiling faces. It seemed impossible for so many people who were so revved up to remain mostly good-natured, courteous, free of the ugly incidents that almost invariably mar events like this, but somehow they managed.
It was exhilarating rolling through center city on that flatbed truck with a blizzard of confetti falling, with people standing on roofs, sitting on ledges, peering out windows, waving, shouting, and always… always… smiling.
It was heartwarming to see the faces not only for the people along the way, but of the men they had come to honor. If there had ever been the slightest doubt as to the depth of feeling that exists for the professional athletes of this city, it was surely dispelled on this day.
Construction workers wearing hard hats looked on from an unfinished building on 17th and Market, waving and yelling and smiling with just as much enthusiasm as any 6-year-old along the way. A gray-haired man in a business suit watched from the roof of the Union League. That was the beauty of this day. Everybody seemed so eager to be a part of it.
As the two flatbed trucks carrying the players approached, people held up the front pages of newspapers and pointed to huge headlines that said, “Champions!” and “We Win!”
Wherever you looked, there were homemade signs, and most of them were directed at one man- the 36-year-old relief pitcher who brings out the little boy in all of us. “Give Tug a Big Hug,” they read, and “McGraw for President,” and “How’s Your Heart, Tug?” (an a funeral home at Broad and Wharton) and “How Do You Spell Relief? - T-U-G” and, over and over again, “We Love Tug”. What Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan wouldn’t give to reach the heart and soul of these people the way Frank Edwin McGraw had.
The joyful caravan kept edging its way south, passing Catharine Street, where two little boys held up large, carefully painted signs. On one was the word “Love”. On the other was the word “You”. The child with the “You” unknowingly held his sign upside down, but nobody minded. The message was clear.
The players were having a ball. You could see it in their faces, in the way they waved to the people, the way they smiled at that sea of humanity. But two men seemed to be having the best time of all. Paul Owens, the general manager who had broken down and cried unashamedly the night before while the nation watched on TV, and Dallas Green, the manager who screamed and hollered and drove this team to the top, stood at the front of one of the trucks and looked, for all the world, like kids who were celebrating Christmas for the first time. Again and again, Owens would reach out with his left hand, grasp Green’s right hand and hold it aloft in the manner of a fight manager after his boxer has won the big match. And then Paul would wave his free hand in the air, and blow kisses to the adoring mob.
By now countless thousands were following the procession down Broad Street, keeping pace with the slow moving caravan, a tidal wave of red and white. As the trucks moved past Methodist Hospital, where so many of the Phillies players had undergone elbow surgery or knee surgery over the years, Green spotted the doctors and interns lining the roof, clasped both hand over his head and gave them what appeared to be a most special salute. Boone, who has spent more time than most there, saw them too, and waved his cowboy hat in recognition.
Finally, they reached JFK Stadium, where people had been waiting since early morning and, to thunderous cheers, circled the field twice. It was a gripping sight- those thousands of white pennants waving- and that huge crowd on its feet, screaming.
Jim Murray, the general manager of the Eagle, stood in the front row holding a sign that read, “Love Thy Neighbor.” Next to him, some of his children hoisted aloft a bigger sign: “Dallas is green, Cowboys are blue, Eagles are winners, Phillies are, too.”
Murray seemed as overwhelmed by it all as if his football team had just won the Super Bowl. “The power to make people happy is awesome,” he said.
And these people were incredibly happy. They chanted, “We want Tug,” they cheered when three Phillies- Dickie Noles, Warren Brusstar and Marty Bystrom- hopped off the truck and headed across the infield with a policeman excorting them to, presumably, the nearest men’s room. When they returned, Noles raised a can of beer high over his head, then stopped long enough to lead a brief cheer.
The speeches, like the ball games that made all this possible, were almost perfect. Even the politicians were brief.
“There are a few people here today who didn’t think this ball club could win,” owner Ruly Carpenter said, “but here they are.”
And they were all there- with the exception of Ron Reed- despite the long night of celebrating. The early-season boos were a thing of the past. Now they heard only cheers. Now they felt a warmth toward these people that they had never felt before.
“Governor, mayor, and you beautiful fans,” Owens began, and any minute you expected to see the tears come cascading down his face again. “The one thing I promised I’d bring to you was a pennant and a World Series someday. Today just your reaction made it all worthwhile…”
Surely, Bowa welcomed that reaction and basked in it. Boos? What boos? Bad fans? What bad fans? They were all on the same side now, all glorying in this city’s first baseball championship in half a century.
“This is probably the greatest moment of my entire life and I’m glad I can share it with the greatest fans in baseball,” he said.
Then it was Schmitty’s turn. “I never say so many sincere faces in my life as I did in that parade today,” the World Series MVP told the crowd. “Take this world championship and savor it because you all deserve it.”
That was the message, delivered again and again- by Dallas Green, by Pete Rose, by Harry Kalas.
And then it was time for the one man they had come to hear, and to cheer, more than any other. Tug didn’t disappoint them.
“All through baseball history Philadelphia has had to take a back
seat to New York City,” the one-time Met star said after the cheers had
subsided. “But New York City can take this world championship and
And finally the love-in was over, but the memory of these few hours when and entire city embraced a professional baseball team would live on.
“The happiest day I’ve had in my life,” gushed Owens, the man most touched by it all. “It was great last night, but to see that enthusiasm, that adulation… I dunno. It seemed like everybody there was happy. I’ve never been to anything like that. You could feel it coming right off the street. This was everything I thought it would be…”
And maybe just a little bit more.
We are beset with problems in these times, and those problems remain.
We’ve still got inflation. We’ve still got bills to pay. We
still get caught in terrible traffic jams on the expressway. We’ve
still got hostages in Iran. Nothing has really changed- and yet for
one bright and beautiful day, and for the several days leading up to it,
a professional baseball team made us forget- however temporarily- all our
problems. For that alone we should all be grateful.