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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

10/25/22 : The Quality of Six

The Phillies return to the World Series for the sixth time in the existence of my personal fan-dome has a different feel and meaning from the first five. For that matter each one has.

In 1980 I was a college junior - the Phillies were idols I had grown up watching during the 70’s.  The series itself was a new experience after years of being so close to getting there.  It followed on the heals of what remains as one of the most competitive NLCS matchups in history and was the climactic triumph of a youth spent watching great teams consistently reach the NLCS only to be outperformed by even greater teams ( Dodgers and Reds ).  Yet at the same time reaching the World Series was almost anticlimactic after the NLCS win over Houston - after that it seemed like fate the fellas would prevail.  As a young man it meant the world at the time  - I grew up as the initial one in my family to have embraced baseball with a passion - the championship meant others saw how much it could bring folks together in our area in celebration of triumph.

In 1983 I was newly married to the supreme love of my life as well as an adopted father of two more loves of my life.  A veteran laden team with three former Cincinnati Reds in the leadership mix seemed almost foreign in my fan-dome.  Joe Morgan put the team on his back that September and having long watched him as part of the Big Red Machine it was a bit strange.  Besides Carlton, Rose, Bystrom and Schmidt in key roles the roster had a much different feel than the 1980 club.  I remember the Sarge winning the NLCS MVP against the Dodgers albeit Lefty was also stellar in that series.  The Orioles with a young future hall of famer at shortstop prevailed in the World Series.  Watching that year as a very young husband and dad my love of baseball hadn’t waned but my responsibilities had - I saw the game in a different light - still important but didn’t feel as crushed by the WS loss as I had in the 70’s during the NLCS struggles.

By 1993 my family had expanded to four with the birth of two more loves of my life.  I had moved upwards in my career - had progressed to becoming a compliance auditor which was ironic as the ‘93 team was perhaps the most non-compliant group to ever wear the Phillies jersey.  The city and fan base fell in love with the brash group of throwbacks to a prior era who played and partied hard with the passion for the game and team effort that epitomized the blue collar image of Philadelphia.   I remember the improbable defeat of the Braves in the NLCS but also witnessing members of the Atlanta team applauding our fellas with the respect that a last to first club our boys had earned.  While Joe Carter’s walk-off dinger in the World Series hurt it didn’t break that spirit and our love for that team - even today they are held high in regard.   For me it pushed me to play again - I had forgone pitching baseballs in deference to my corporate career and family obligations but the 1993  crew inspired me to find a way to re-acclimate and make it all fit.  A few years later I was privileged to meet many of them in multiple phantasy camps and can attest they are as down to earth and truly real people as we watched that summer of intrigue.

2008 brought a long awaited return to the Series with a talent laden team led by a skipper who would become immortalized by the fan base.  Hitting season extended thru October and Cole Hamels pitched with skill beyond his youthful age of 24 propelling the club to it’s second world championship.  My life had evolved, professionally I was entrenched in a global leadership role with more world travel than I cared for ( we watched the Matt Stairs NLCS dinger from China 😎 ), was a grandfather to the first grand love of my life and was caught up in the pressures of the corporate ladder climb.  As an outlet I wrote a daily blog about the team and even published a book after the championship had been won.  Chase Utley’s exclamation of “World Fucking Champions” was the exact same phrase I had used the moment Brad Lidge punched out Eric Hinske.  The joy and excitement felt was different than in 1980 as it was shared from a fan’s view of a life’s evolution over nearly thirty years.  It was more akin to a sense of peer level accomplishment than a youthful idolization yet the joy felt in my heart was the same.

2009 seemed like we had just been there ( as we had 😂 ) and with the addition of Pedro late in the season to couple with Cliff Lee who had been acquired earlier that year felt as if we were well positioned to win another one.  But the pesky flu got to Pedro and the Yankees outperformed our crew to win the title.  On a personal note the company I had ascended within had been acquired by a much larger one in a somewhat hostile takeover.  For me it was a year of presentation and the justification of my team to the new owners which eventually led to an ongoing global leadership role invoking much more travel but this time as an empty nester which enabled the biggest love of my life, my wife, to travel with me.  We embarked on a journey seemingly akin to the Phillies - one lined with ongoing promise and annual success … or so we thought.

The 2022 Phillies broke thru in September to end an eleven year playoff appearance drought and then caught fire riding the magical efforts of a superstar and standout pitching performances.  It was unexpected and as each series victory ensued the celebrations were almost as entertaining as the baseball on the field.  The excitement generated for a fan base both old and new has been heartfelt and sincere.  Having retired from corporate life in 2015 and embarking on a Phillies baseball writing hobby focused on the minor leagues the joy felt is yet again different.  Being enabled to actually know many of those on the team whether it be players, coaches, management or staff takes it from the 1980 fan-dome stage of idolization to the 1993 feelings of admiration to the 2008 euphoria of accomplishment to the present feeling of a sense of kinship and familial pride.  It’s a realization born over a lifetime of experiences that baseball heroes are first and foremost people - my appreciation of this year’s birth to the World Series is rooted in that - the happiness felt is more widespread and personified for the folks within the organization along with for my fellow fans.  It’s the best Phillies championship feeling I’ve had yet, one shared with all the loves of my life which now includes four grandchildren - it’s been a really cool ride thus far.

Sixty three years to date with a sixth Phillies World Series on the end of week horizon playing against an opponent embarking on their fourth World Series appearance in the last six years - seems about right 🤓.  It’s not always about the quantity but the quality - I wouldn’t trade our six for anything - just sayin.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️


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