This week marked the commencement of another season of Phillies baseball in Philadelphia. It’s another season that will be filled with highs and lows and what ifs. But 20 years ago this week marked the beginning of one of the most magical seasons of Phillies baseball ever. That year a ragtag bunch of mullet loving baseball nomads came together and played for the Phillies and took us on a magical ride all the way to the World Series. It was a ride that most Phillies fans in my generation would never forget and still appreciate to this day.
You see back then the Phillies were nothing more than a punch line for bad baseball. They played in dirty, old Veterans Stadium which was not even close to the wonderful experience that’s now Citizens Bank Park. I was in 4th grade that season and up until that point the Phillies were awful. Sure my father and I still attended games because we were fans and no matter what the situation you support the team. But going into 93 no one expected much of anything. The year before in 92 the Phillies finished dead last so why even bother expecting anything else going into 93.
Little did we realize 20 years ago this past week Philadelphia was about to embark on a magical journey to the World Series. During the offseason between the 92 and 93 season the Phillies brought in a bunch of old, veteran baseball players who’ve been bounced around from team to team. Led by then head coach Jim Fregosi the Phillies roared out of the gate in April to a 17-5 start. I remember as a young boy thinking what in the world is going on here. The Phillies were in first place 1 month into the season how could this be. But they kept winning, and winning, and winning some more. They never fell out of first place the entire season. They finished with a 97-65 record and went from worst to first beating out the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) by 3 games for the division crown.
Not one person around the Delaware Valley saw this coming. This team had no legitimate superstars that were household names around the country. Guys like Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Mickey Mordandini, Pete Incavaiglia, Dave Hollins, Mitch Williams, and my favorite of them all “the dude” Lenny Dysktra took this town by storm. They went out and battled hard each and every night and won game after game. I remember going to many games as a child with my father but every game in 93 I attended was special because finally this team was winning.
I sat down tonight and broke out my 93 Phillies Yearbook VHS tape appropriately titled “Whatever it Takes, Dude” narrated by the legend himself Harry Kalas and the dude himself Lenny Dysktra. I hadn’t watched the tape in years but it bought back many good memories not just of baseball but life in general. You see for my generation the 93 Phillies represented more than just baseball they represented a part of our childhood. Outside of 93 we grew up with horrible baseball in this town. Before 93 the Phillies were atrocious, and after 93 well… they were atrocious once again. Myself and other Phillies fans born in the early 80s never saw playoff baseball in this town until the most recent run that began in 07. Up until last season young kids all over the Delaware Valley were used to the Phillies making the playoffs year after year but there’s a group of young adults out there that are quite aware it won’t last forever.
I recall being in 4th grade attending Phillies rallies at school and being asked to wear your favorite Phillies shirt. This was all new to me and my pals as everyone was talking about the Phillies. We were young children finally getting the chance to experience what it was like to have a winning baseball team to cheer for.
Back in 93 I was lucky enough to have attended game 1 of the NLCS and game 4 of the World Series thanks to my father. You see he knew back then this moment of great baseball may never come around again. He seized the opportunity to show me what playoff baseball was all about because he had the opportunity to experience it himself back in 1980 when the Phillies won their 1st World Series. I recall him saying to me “you know this might not happen again for a very long time” and he sure was right. We waited until 2007 to finally reach the playoffs and 2008 to finally win another World Series. Naturally in 2008 it wasn’t even a question, we both attended the championship parade together and that year I was the one who said “you know this might not happen again for a very long time”.
We all know how the story of the 93 Phillies ended up. They got to the playoffs and beat the then NL West champion Atlanta Braves in 6 games. They went on to the World Series to face the defending champion Toronto BlueJays. Eventually they lost in 6 games but it wasnt just a normal loss, they were on the cusp of forcing a game 7 until closer Mitch Williams let up a game winning homerun to Joe Carter. Just like that with one swing of a bat it was all over, and myself and other young children all over the Delaware Valley went into a state of sadness that none of us ever experienced before.
Sure we came back in 94, and 95, and some of us continued to watch and still continue to watch to this day. As the seasons went on the Phillies fell back into the miserable state they had been before 93. Twenty years later myself and other Phillies fans part of my generation have grown and moved on to other opportunities in our lives. Eventually the Phillies finally reached the post season again in 07 and as young adults we finally had the opportunity to relive our childhood like we did in 93. The Phillies finally finished the job in 08 and those heartbroken children of 93 finally were able to rejoice. But even amongst that World Series championship in 08 with players we all love like Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley those of us in my generation will always have a special place in our hearts for those 93 Phillies with guys like Curt Schillilling, Darren Daulton, John Kruk, the dude Lenny Dykstra and many others part of that team. Sure the 93 Phillies fell short of a championship, but back then they were all we had when it came to great baseball in this town and for those of us who grew up in the 80’s, 90’s they’ll always represent a part of our childhood.