Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phinally.....a Championship

By The FDH NY Bureau (posted by Rick Morris)

This is just a brief note about the Phillies bringing a World Series title back to Philadelphia.

For the last five years, I have been covering games at Citizens Bank Park off and on during the regular season. I wanted to say that in my time covering the team, everyone I have come in contact with who works for the organization has always treated me with class and respect. (I guess having a press credential dangling from your neck has something to do with that, but anyway).

The individuals who work in the press box have always been accomodating, whether it be for media guides, fan giveaways (yes, the media gets them too) and just general information. One man, Art, has been there since the Shibe Park days before Veterans Stadium was built. I am happy for them. The announcing team (Harry Kalas, Chris Wheeler, Denny Martinez, Garry Mathews, Tom McCarthy, Larry Andersen and Jim Jackson) have always been nice to talk with as well when I run into them in the press box before and during games.

The man who I'm happiest of all for, besides Jamie Moyer, who finally got his ring after 22 seasons, is a man by the name of Tom Burgoyne. Tom is the man who portrays The Phillie Phanatic. He began as an understudy to the original Phanatic, Dave Raymond, who now appears as a character named Reggy in minor league parks across the country.

Tom stepped into the role full-time after the 1993 season, when the Phillies won the NL Pennant but lost to Toronto. I met Tom at a book signing somewhere in PA (he was out of costume), but returned later in the day as his alter ego, causing mayhem in the hotel lobby. Tom works hard entertaining the phans, er fans, and is a lifelong fan of all the Philadelphia area teams. He is just as much a part of the success of the team as the players are in my mind.

When I work games, I always make it a point to visit Tom in his dressing room during the game while he's taking a break. I see him sitting there in a chair with the costume half-off, dripping with sweat, sometimes planning skits and routines with other actors, grounds crew members, or young fans. He also makes appearances while the Phillies are on the road at chairty events and the Phils' minor league affiliates in the area. He loves meeting and interacting with Phillies fans and loves being a part of the game and adding to the fans' experience.

I couldn't be happier for Tom, and as a special treat, I have extended an invitation for him to come on The FDH Lounge this Sunday night to detail the magical season he was a part of. He is looking forward to come on and hopefully his schedule will allow that to happen.

Finally, a tip of the cap to former Phillies third base coach John Vukovich. John spent over twenty years in the organization as a player and coach, and spent a season in the front office. I had the chance to meet him and shake his hand one time two seasons ago in the press box. He was a regular caller every year to the Mike and the Mad Dog radio show here in New York, and was always an entertaining listen. John died of brain cancer last year at a fairly young age. At the time, everyone I had talked to felt he was getting better, but he had a relapse and, if memory serves, passed away before spring training in 2007. The organization was saddened by his passing and I hope someone remembers to mention him when they speak at the parade tomorrow.

So as Chris Berman would say........"Cleveland, you're now on the clock..........."

[NOTE FROM RICK MORRIS: C-Town's been on the clock! Philly's a bunch of lightweights whining about no title since 1983. Try going back to 1964 and see how that feels!]

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