Damn, the Phillies are white. The whitest team in baseball. Name another team whose four best players are white; whose first six hitters are white; that fields eight white players when facing a righty? The black players are part-timers and backups who know their places.
Philadelphia Magazine's Bruce Buschel while watching the 1993 World Series.
Quoted in Richard Orodenker, ed. The Phillies Reader, 290.
In 2008, as I watched my beloved Phillies win the World Series for only the second time in their 125-year history, players of color like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino held starring roles as they helped lead the team to victory. Today, Ryan Howard jerseys blanket Citizens Bank Park, Jimmy Rollins serves as the vocal leader, and Shane Victorino bobbleheads are given out to fans. But in 1993, in an era when black players like Ken Griffey Jr. graced video games, the Phillies often fielded an entirely white starting lineup (depending on the platoon that day). As Dave Zirin points out, by the 1960s "a substantial portion of America's finest baseball, football, and basketball players" were black. (1) Moreover, during a turbulent time when politicians in the 1992 presidential elections were debating the merits of the culture wars, many white males felt displaced and attacked as challenges to their privileged position came from gains in feminism, minority and gay rights movements, and from a decline in the power of the neoconservatives with the election of President Clinton. (2) For male patriarchy, "the most striking feature of the present moment in the gender order of the rich countries, is the open challenge to men's privileges made by feminism." (3) During the 1970s and 1980s, many white males, having been the privileged group for much of history, joined men's movements in response to the gains of feminists and minorities. (4) Susan Faludi argues that conservative advocates were "not so much defending a prevailing order as resurrecting an outmoded or imagined one." (5) Much of the country's beliefs were changing or at least being challenged.
Yet in 1993 Philadelphia, the Phillies were portrayed as overwhelmingly white. Players of color made up half of the platooned position players at second base, left field, and right field, while David West brought up the tail end of the pitching rotation. Although Phillies first baseman John Kruk stressed that there were no racial problems or cliques on the team, one has to wonder how truthful that statement was, as an inordinate number of the players on the team were white. (6) In multiple instances, the players and the media discussed the important role of the area of the locker room inhabited by Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, Pete Incaviglia, Dave Hollins, Darren Daulton, and Mitch Williams (known by the name "Macho Row," and alternately the "Ghetto"). (7) Despite claims that race did not matter, every member of the Ghetto was white. They were the leaders, the spokesmen, and the stars. Whether the Phillies and the Philadelphia media were actually unaware of the whiteness of the team or just ignored it, both used a great deal of racially coded rhetoric emblematic of hegemonic, white masculinity. Analysis of interviews in the book More Than Beards, Bellies, and Biceps and the documentary High Hopes, both produced by the Philadelphia Phillies, reveals that the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies represented hegemonic, white masculinity during an era of social change and perceived attack on the values and traditions of white, American males. (8)
Within Philadelphia, a largely white baseball team holds significant meaning. While minorities make up over half of the population, there have been few black superstars on Philadelphia's teams. (9) Historically, Philadelphia baseball teams and their fans have had a sordid and regrettable reputation regarding racial equality and acceptance. While Philadelphia fielded many Negro League teams, most were owned and operated by white men. A player for the Hilldales, a team that frequently beat the Philadelphia Athletics in barnstorming contests, cynically remarked, "It [white management of Negro League teams] tells white people in a forceful manner that colored people are unable to even play a ball game without white leadership." (10)
While many teams taunted Jackie Robinson in his rookie season of 1947 (and the years that followed), the Phillies went further than other squads with their vitriol and public displays of racism. Cultural critic Gerald Early recalls: "Very few black people I knew rooted for the Phillies." (11) With taunts like "N-, go back to the cotton fields where you belong"; derogatory references to the jungle, snowflakes, thick lips, inferior brains; and insinuations that Robinson was disease-infested; the Phillies took great pleasure in mercilessly ridiculing the first baseman when the Dodgers visited Philadelphia.12 Robinson said, "[I wanted to] throw down my bat, stride over to the Phillies dugout, grab one of those white sons-of-bitches, and smash his teeth in with my despised black fist." (13) Led by manager Ben Chapman, who had already been banished from his position with the Yankees due to anti-Semitic remarks, the Phillies stood on the dugout steps, aimed their bats at Robinson, and made gunshot sounds. (14) Chapman argued that he was treating Robinson like any other rookie and was attempting to rattle him. However, the Phillies were not chastised for their actions. Instead, fans and sportswriters within the city "commended [Chapman] for his fair stand toward Robinson." (15) Eventually the Phillies stopped taunting Robinson because the taunts seemed to motivate him.
The Phillies captured their first pennant since 1915 with an all-white squad dubbed the "Whiz Kids" in 1950, the last segregated team to win a pennant. (16) Over the following decades, the Phillies continued to lead the Senior Circuit in racial controversies and questionable treatment of minority players. (17)
When the Phillies had success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, fans celebrated white players like Mike Schmidt (when they didn't boo him), Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski, Steve Canton, Larry Bowa, and Tug McGraw. Bruce Buschel, a Philadelphia-based writer, recalls that "the 1980 team had only three blacks," including the often forgotten Garry Maddox and Lonnie Smith. (18) In a city with a notorious history of racism and boo-bird fans, minority players were at best forgotten and at worst despised. While many white players have been booed throughout their tenure with the Phillies, the Philadelphia media and the fans seem quick to jump on black players for transgressions that are ignored or even celebrated when perpetrated by white players. Dick Allen's "expressionless style" was deemed arrogant or unenthusiastic, yet Jim Eisenreich's and Mickey Morandini's expressionless play was no big deal during the 1993 season. (19) When Allen scribbled defiant messages into the dirt, he was insubordinate. When Mitch Williams threw temper tantrums because he did not get into the game for a save opportunity, he was fiery and intense. (20) When Allen voiced the opinion that he wished to be called "Dick" as opposed to "Richie," the press responded by calling him "Dick 'Don't Call Me Richie' Allen." (21) Much like the media's refusal to call Muhammad Ali by his chosen name, the continued use of the name "Richie" by the Philadelphia media only further infuriated and disheartened Allen. Conversely, white Phillies have often been loud, insubordinate, and highly individualistic, but they are celebrated for these traits and categorized as being scrappy, throwback players. No team manifested these characteristics more than the 1993 Phillies.
Baseball remains a masculine preserve. Gender is very much a performance learned and enforced through societal norms and expectations. Cultural studies scholar Michael Butterworth explains that "more than any other sport, baseball relies on unspoken codes of masculinity that have constituted norms and performances of gender since the game's earliest days." (22) In the early 1990s, many of the Phillies performed a coded gender separate from both the cool pose, black masculinity of athletes like Deion Sanders and Rickey Henderson and the all-American, white masculinity of athletes like John Olerud and Greg Maddux. The Phillies emphasized a rugged, white masculinity emblematic of working-class males or cowboys of the American West. Sporting mullets and facial hair, the Phillies distinguished themselves from the clean-cut image of other white players. As one Pittsburgh Pirate explained, "Ryne Sandberg? Good milk-drinker. Cal Ripken? Good milk-drinker. ... [Kruk] is every couch potato's ultimate dream." (23) Players from other teams and the media recognized that the image of the Phillies was different from the masculinities prevalent throughout the league. Dave Hollins said, "We didn't have that All-Star, All-American Boy-type image."(24) The Phillies chewed, spit, swore, drank kegs-worth of beer in the locker room, and were covered in dirt. Their constant emphasis on teamwork, all-out play, and not caring what anyone else thought of them worked well in a city former Mayor Ed Rendell described as the "ultimate blue-collar town.(25) This commitment to teammwork hearkened back to former heroes of hegemonic, white masculinity "such as Mickey Mantle and Johnny Unitas." They were "exemplars of the greatness that came with being a team plaver" (26)
In Retro Ball Parks, Daniel Rosensweig analyzes a commercial which pits an outmatched white catcher against the unstoppable base stealer, Rickey Henderson. Rosensweig argues that Henderson represents the culturally accepted notion of the black athlete: "physical, offensive, reckless, stealing, flashy, and graced with an innate natural athleticism." (27) In contrast, the white catcher represents the white athlete: "cerebral, defensive, disciplined, protecting, fundamentally sound, and perhaps not very athletic by nature." The Phillies and the media trumpeted these essentialist ideas during the 1993 campaign, though they couched them with rhetoric about having fun and playing baseball the right way--using terms like underdog, throwback, and scrappy. This language represents a coding of the Phillies as inherently white protectors of hegemonic, white masculinity. Despite having multiple All-Stars, playoff veterans, and high-salaried players, the Phillies were viewed as an anomaly or a cause celebre throughout the media because of their rugged appearance and style of play. Many fell into the trap of "two standard dystopic narratives: white men cannot compete physically with black men and whites must work harder to earn what they have." (28)
Due to the cultural belief that black athletes are inherently more talented, the Phillies were routinely described as, in the late Harry Kalas's words, a rag-tag bunch of throwbacks," referring to old-fashioned and hard-working players who exemplify characteristics associated with the Golden Age of baseball--an era when white players dominated because they were alone in the game. (29)Buschel asks, "How can a black player be a throwback to a time when there were no black players? Or is that the point?" (30) Minority ballplayers cannot truly be described as throwback players, as they do not have a Golden Age--at least in Major League Baseball--to which they can throw back. They can merely be described as playing the game the right way--the white way. Chris Rock jokes that true equality in baseball is when there are "bad black baseball players. The true equality is the equality to suck like the white man." (31) It is assumed that black players are gifted athletes who coast on their natural talent and do not work at their craft; white ballplayers work for every hit and every stolen base. Phillies manager Jim Fregosi echoed this sentiment: "David [Hollins] did not have great talent, but he played with such a fire, and that's what made him a great player." (32) Hollins's fire made him a great player; it was assumed that he had to work harder than most to excel, even though he was a professional ballplayer. A white player who struggles is just not as talented, whereas a struggling black player is likely lazy or takes the game for granted.
Since the Phillies were coded as white, their wins were unexpected and credited to determination and grit. Through repeated characterizations of the Phillies as rugged, blue-collar underdogs, the Phillies and the media were able to connect the team to the hegemonic, white masculinity of cowboys and the white working class. Third baseman Dave Hollins remarked, "I thought our ballclub had to play a little harder, show a little more determination and guts and desire. We had to prove to other teams that we were for rear" (33) Reliever Larry Anderson said, "We didn't have the most talent in the league; we just wanted it more than anybody else." (34) Players cited the "team concept of play" as the reason for the Phillies' success, as opposed to the flashy, individualist attitude associated with the black athlete. (35) Throughout the documentary High Hopes, a collection of Phillies interviews and highlights from the 1993 season, players and coaches stressed the selfless attitude of the team and their willingness to move runners, take pitches, and accept roster changes. Incaviglia, who platooned in the outfield with Milt Thompson, remarked that each player on the team selflessly moved runners "because that's the way you're supposed to play the game." Baseball is mythologized as a team game in which each player is integral to the success or failure of the team. Each player should care more about victory than about their own personal statistics. Despite containing multiple All-Stars, the Phillies and the media still portrayed the team as underdogs well into their dominant season: "To succeed, [the Phillies] needed every member to contribute. Not every team needs that. The talent-laden teams can rely on a few big guns to carry them." (36)
In an era when traditional values of hegemonic, white masculinity were being challenged, the Phillies provided a medium for its celebration. While members of the media, and the Phillies themselves, stressed the originality and eccentricity of the Phillies' image, their version of masculinity echoed Faludi's claims by reaffirming traditional values long associated with hegemonic, white masculinity. (37) In his discussion of Nolan Ryan as the prototypical heteronormative, white, male hero, Nick Trujillo provides a blueprint for the societal idea of "what it means to be a man" in the West. (38) He highlights physical force, frontiersmanship, and heterosexuality as three of the defining features of this hegemonic, white masculinity--often exemplified in the American cowboy with his white, working-class values. (39) He argues that the media celebrate these values in their sports heroes. While fans complained about the greediness of professional athletes and the celebratory culture of many black athletes, the media latched onto the Phillies as exemplars of players who cared about the game, had fun, and played the game the right way. By writing numerous articles about the Phillies' appearance and their status as underdogs, the media drew increasing attention to the team.
Trujillo's description of the importance of physical force was personified by many of the Phillies. Players tell stories of Daulton threatening to punch them, Danny Jackson head-butting a luggage rack, Hollins threatening to kill multiple players, Incaviglia throwing a fit because the clubhouse staff in Toronto forgot to put a can of chew in his locker, Dykstra throwing a case of bats across the room because they were mislabled, and even Mitch Williams (the closer) breaking a bat over his leg in batting practice. (40) Michael Butterworth explains, "Masculine assertiveness and territorialism are exemplified in baseball's signature confrontation: the pitcher versus the batter." (41) Numerous Phillies reference Hollins's decree that he would fight any pitcher who did not retaliate for a Phillies batter being hit. He also personally called out Greg Maddux for hitting him the previous season. Curt Schilling and Tommy Greene both state that they were more afraid of disobeying Hollins than suffering the consequences of hitting a batter. Greene followed through with Hollins's demand and plunked an opposing pitcher in the neck with a fastball, causing a bench-clearing brawl in spring training. Butterworth explains that a baseball player "cannot shy away from a fight, whether it involves fists or words. And above all, he must reject any characteristic that is feminizing" if he wants to protect and promote his masculine image. (42) Hollins elaborates on this tactic: "Intimidation was a big factor in our success. I always got the impression that some teams thought we weren't good enough for them." (43) Hollins positions the Phillies as masculine--both through their intimidation and as the white, disadvantaged underdog fighting for respect.
The Phillies manifested Trujillo's description of frontiersmanship in their appearance and style of play. Robert Gordon and Tom Burgoyne write:
In an era when stars are scrubbed, buff, and GQ-friendly, the '93 Phillies were poster boys for the beer-pretzels-backyard-horseshoes set. They offended some people along the way. They ruffled feathers. They scuffled. Modesty and manners were not their forte. They spit and scratched in all the wrong places, especially when a camera was rolling. ... But they were real. (44)
This realness of the Phillies image was often up for debate, depending on who was asked. The media often bought into it. For example, Jayson Stark describes the Phillies' love of being defined by Macho Row, the underdog role, and not looking like "the typical professional athlete." (45) As an alternative to the corporate look of the Yankees or the cool pose of the black athlete, the Phillies provided a model for the celebration of hegemonic, white masculinity. Yet Kruk often hints that it was not an act, stating that "it's the way we are: the hair and the beard and everything." (46) However, Kruk was known to play up his image as folksy and naive. In interviews, he would incorrectly conjugate verbs and throw in colloquialisms, a practice he seems to have lost in his present job on Baseball Tonight. He would argue that Macho Row was a creation of the media, but would call his teammates mental and infer that Dale Murphy had been sent to the Phillies the previous season for a "Mormon mission trip." (47) Kruk played up his image as a beer-drinking, out-of-shape slob in some interviews and argued against it in others. While he made sure to tell the interviewer in High Hopes that everyone else worked out but him, Fregosi reveals that Kruk took more batting practice than anyone. The truth surely rests somewhere in between the two positions, but the idea of the realness and authenticity of the 1993 Phillies certainly fascinated the team, the fans, and the media throughout the season.
Continuing the conversation of individuality, American studies scholar Joel Dinerstein writes, "Nearly every aspect of our national pastime has been transformed by African American participation and protest, style and aesthetics, physical gesture and emotional expression." (48) Personalization and emotion have become a large part of baseball. Some of the Phillies situated themselves in opposition to such aspects when they recalled interactions with Barry Bonds. They decry his selfish play and his home run gazes as arrogant and contrary to the spirit of the game. As Trujillo explains, criticism of individualist play is a criticism of black culture and the black, cool pose. (49) Because the cool pose and celebration of the individual run contrary to the traditional culture of white athletes, black athletes are expected to conform to the white way of playing.
While the 1993 Phillies emphasized the importance of teamwork, many of their celebrated memories arose from moments of individualism. In High Hopes, multiple Phillies reminisce about Dykstra's home run which lifted the Phillies over the Braves during the National League Championship Series (NLCS). The players laugh and celebrate Dykstra's antics which consisted of pumping his fists and screaming "Didn't I?" after hitting the home run. By bringing attention to himself and celebrating his achievement, Dykstra displayed the same kind of swagger for which Bonds is ridiculed. Even though Dykstra's celebration is more outlandish than Bonds's, the Phillies celebrate it as emblematic of their team's fun style of play. The Phillies regale the viewer with stories of Hollins intimidating players off of the field, Kruk taking a bow at the All-Star game after striking out against Randy Johnson, and Jackson admitting that he wanted to win a game just to "stick it up the media's ass." (50) While the Phillies outwardly embraced the idea of teamwork, they still reveled in moments of individualism, as long as those moments were perpetrated by Phillies.
Dykstra, who had been an All-Star before the 1993 season and had quite a bit of prior success in the postseason, was described as a "cocky, scrappy, feisty, sometimes arrogant little guy who chewed tobacco, spat often, and didn't give much of a hoot what anybody else thought about him." (51) Dykstra's disregard for what people thought about him made him a "character," while Bonds and Henderson were criticized for their arrogant style of play. As Buschel writes, "Rickey is reviled because he plays a black man's game. Lenny is beloved because he plays Rickey's game." (52) The Phillies' arrogance is viewed as quirky, lovable, or a throwback to an earlier, mythic era when players did not care about money, but merely loved to play the game. (53) The same holds true when players and writers long for a return of characters, but turn around and label Manny Ramirez as childish and immature. (54) Bushel explains that people saw Henderson as a "hot dog," while Lenny was just "intense": "Rickey symbolized everything wrong with the modern game. Lenny [was] a colorful character from the golden age." (55)
While the Philadelphia media celebrated the white "characters" on the team, minority players were overlooked. Incayiglia, who platooned in the outfield with Thompson, stresses that Thompson was a far better outfielder. (56) Yet Incaviglia, not Thompson, was welcomed as a member of Macho Row, even though both were off-season acquisitions. In the only moment during High Hopes given to Wes Chamberlain, an African American member of the team, he discusses how many were wary of how he would react to platooning. While white Phillies were celebrated for their intensity, Chamberlain is complimented on how "much he has matured." The documentary emphasizes that Chamberlain "needed" to be handled carefully. White players were given free rein on their emotional outbursts, but Chamberlain needed to be protected paternally. Mariano Duncan, a player from the Dominican Republic, tellingly reveals that he finally felt like "a part of the ball club" after hitting a game-winning grand slam to clinch the pennant. Duncan's statement does not back up the assertion that the Phillies were a team emblematic of unity and team spirit. While Duncan was likely trying to express his pleasure in contributing to a crucial win, that he still felt like an outsider after platooning for a whole year (and garnering an eighteen-game hit streak) gives credence to the argument that the team was coded as white. Williams's unfortunately chosen words in High Hopes further illustrate this point: "Kim Batiste knew what his role was. Ricky Jordan knew what his role was. And the thing that made them different? No one bitched." The players of color were there to spell the white starters, keep quiet, and know their place.
Rosensweig's analysis of the catcher-pitcher dynamic plays itself out in the players' and the media's descriptions of Phillies catcher Darren Daulton. Daulton, an All-Star, was the undisputed leader of the PhiRies. Players described him as the "general," the "alpha-wolf," the "Godfather," and the "quarterback" of the team. (57) Rosensweig argues, "Considered the quarterback of baseball, the catcher calls pitches, makes positioning adjustments, and serves as a counselor/tutor to the pitcher ... the catcher is supposed to be the brains and the heart of the team." (58) In their descriptions of Daulton, players and media members eerily echo Rosensweig's view, depicting Daulton as the white hero who outthinks his opponents and manages the team, despite having obvious strength and athletic talent. Kruk notes that Daulton and the other members of the team (aside from himself) spent at least an hour after every game lifting weights and conditioning their bodies, further demonstrating the work ethic needed for the white athlete to compete in sports. (59) Daulton's "matinee-idol good looks" and "nine knee surgeries" paint him as a rugged hero out of America's hegemonic, white past.
Finally, the Phillies also demonstrated Trujillo's description of heterosexuality through overt instances of heteronormativity. Many of the Phillies discussed the need to stay in the clubhouse for hours after the game to engage in male bonding and analyze their performances. However, Kruk reveals that much of this analysis involved drinking, smoking, telling jokes, and playing whiffleball. Hollins commented that his wife indicated that she was not fond of the late-night sessions, to which he responded, "What's the worst that's gonna happen. You're gonna bitch at me, give me a little heat? Well, do that, because I need to get to know my teammates and talk about the game, because we're here to win." (60) The needs of his teammates came first, further confirming baseball as a masculine space that is somehow incomprehensible for women. Susan Birrell and Mary McDonald argue that "despite considerable challenges sports is best understood as a male preserve, a major site for the creation of male bonding, privilege, and masculine hegemony." (61) However, this male bonding cannot stray from accepted heteronormative activities. (62) In a televised interview at the All-Star Game, Kruk and Daulton are introduced as "Jake and Dutch: Friends, Teammates, Lovers," to which they both shake their heads in agreement. (63) The allegation that the two members of Macho Row could possibly be gay lovers is played as a joke. As part of the heteronormativity of baseball, Kruk and Daulton must play along or face the possibility that their denial would seem suspicious. In another instance, Kevin Stocker, the new shortstop, is hazed on a flight by being forced to wear a smock, serve the team drinks, and answer to the name "Colleen." (64) Stocker is forced to perform the hegemonic model of femininity or transvestism, an unacceptable challenge to masculinity. The performance of a gender outside of the accepted masculinity of baseball is meant to be humiliating, reinforcing baseball as a masculine preserve.
Former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell said, "That '93 team was a microcosm of the city. ... On the one hand, this city is one of the most significant cultural, historical, and artistic centers in the country and in the world. Yet on the other hand, Philly is the ultimate blue-collar town." (65) Rendell's uplifting sound bite does not accurately describe the Phillies. The team was neither viewed as cultured nor were they a "microcosm of the city." Buschel suggested that "since the Phils don't mirror the city's multicultural diversity or racial makeup, they must mirror the city's attitude toward color. Exclusionary." (66) The perceived whiteness and working-class masculinity of the Phillies would be put to the test against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.
While the Braves' pitching staff was made up of white pitchers in Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and Avery, their offense was coded as black. Dubbed "America's Team" by the media, the Braves featured a potent offense led by Fred Mc-Gruff, David Justice, Ron Gant, Terry Pendleton, and Deion Sanders. The Phil-lies saw themselves as the diametric opposite to the Atlanta Braves and christened themselves "America's Most Wanted Team," playing off the moniker of the Braves while simultaneously representing their own nonconformity. The Braves had won the Western Division the past three years and were the two-time defending National League champions. Phillies players saw the Braves as prima donnas and corporate ballplayers who did not play as a team or have fun out on the diamond. (67) Hollins claims that "they [the Braves] always acted like we didn't belong on the field with them." Williams echoes this thought, saying, "They hated us just for who we were. We had long hair. They weren't gonna see us walk in a suit. We weren't tlashy. We were Iquiaaeipnia. (68) Once again, the trope of the Phillies' underdog status is used to set up the team as a group that needs to work harder than the superior black athletes of the Atlanta Braves, and as a group that represents a more palatable version of white masculinity than the Braves' pitching staff. The success of the 1993 Phillies was always couched in the rhetoric of working hard and having fun, relegating their competition's success to natural-born talent and athleticism, and painting opponents as arrogant and ungrateful--aspects much of American culture codes as black. Considering many of the Phillies' reactions to the arrogance of Barry Bonds, it is likely that the "Prime Time" attitude of Deion Sanders was equally disliked. Even though the Phillies had their own brand of arrogance which incorporated flash, individualism, and intensity, they were read as less athletic--thus their success was a triumph over adversity, and their arrogance was justified and viewed as a "throwback to a much earlier era." (69)
Sports historian David Zang explains in his analysis of the 1976 movie The Bad News Bears:
The underdog is more than just the predicted loser. Real underdogs--win or lose--force their opponents to treat them as worthy opponents, thereby elevating the contest, making it more meaningful. Real underdogs thus possess an aura of moral superiority and they reach their victories via an honorable route. (70)
Rhetorically positioned as underdogs, the Phillies gained the moral high ground. While this high ground was not about manners, it was a nostalgic privileging of the glory days of baseball and hegemonic, white masculinity. Zang argues that the growing prevalence of the black athlete "did not sit well with displaced whites." (71) As Greene writes, the Phillies had "something to give back to baseball, I think ... of the old way." (72) While the old way can be read as a return to hard work and having fun, the old way should also be read as a return to white baseball and the importance of white males in general. It is highly unlikely that the Atlanta Braves did not work hard or have their share of fun. This discourse provides two reasons for the Braves' loss in the NLCS: either the Braves relied on their superior talent and grew complacent, or the Phillies worked harder than the Braves. In either case, the Phillies are positioned as the morally superior team. As the underdog, the Phillies served as the defenders of baseball against the new, flashy, black version of baseball, and against a neutered, ineffectual white masculinity.
The same trope was used against the Toronto Blue Jays and their stars of color: Joe Carter, Rickey Henderson, Roberto Alomar, Devon White, and Dave Stewart (although the team also contained white stars Paul Molitor and John Olerud). Since black athletes are gifted with talent, when a white underdog loses it softens the impact because the loss is expected. But any victory by the underdog is a victory for hard work and the American dream. Believing in the athletic superiority of black players allows society to make heroes out of athletes dubbed as the great white hope. This term was coined between 1908 and 1915 when thirty to forty white challengers came forward to fight Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion. (73) Many fighters came forward to defend the honor of the "white race." Over the years, as sports were integrated and African Americans succeeded in sports from which they had been formerly and informally banned, whites all over the world clamored for mythic white hopes to regain the glory days of white-dominated (segregated) sports. The 1970 film (and 1967 play) The Great White Hope--a fictional representation of Jack Johnson's life--further cemented the term into the everyday lexicon. With a vast history of racism in athletics, it is no surprise that the fictional Rocky Balboa is embraced by Philadelphians. In Rocky, a white, blue-collar boxer uses hard work and willpower to rise through the ranks of the boxing world and go the distance against a black boxing champion. Even though Rocky loses, he still wins because he gives the people of Philadelphia hope and a renewed belief in the abilities of the white, male athlete. The same occurred with the 1993 Phillies. As Daulton describes, while "Toronto was World Champions, there was probably more focus on that club of ours. There's probably been more focus on that club [Philadelphia] losing the World Series than a lot of clubs that win it." (74) Against the Canadian Blue Jays, America's Most Wanted Team represented the United States and represented the conception of the United States as a white nation. Toronto newspapers described the Phillies as a "motley crew of hairy, beer-soused brutes" and "long-haired, slack-jawed, pot-bellied, and snarly lipped"--two descriptions which ignore the Phillies of color, further illustrating the coding of the Phil-lies as white. (75) A Maclean's writer positioned Toronto as "clean livers on and off the field," while Sports Illustrated scribe Steve Wulf called them "teacher's pets" and "milk drinkers." (76) In contrast, the old-fashioned, American, hegemonic, white masculinity of the Phillies was exciting, unpredictable, and fun. The fact that, as one Blue Jay hinted, "Beneath the undergrowth, the Phillies are enormously talented," did not seem to matter. (77) For many in the media, it was far more interesting to have the Phillies' Macho Row represent the appearance of the team, rather than the team's actual talent.
The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies succeeded in winning the National League and winning the attention of the United States. President Clinton even made reference to them during the summer of 1993 in a few of his speeches. (78) While Schilling claims, "we didn't care what anybody thought of us," and Kruk states, "We didn't know we were so popular while it was happening. We really didn't care either," the Phillies were surely not apathetic to the attention. When in the spotlight, they performed their brand of hegemonic, white masculinity, cracked jokes with the media, and spread the good news of hard work and having fun.
After being traded in 1969, Dick Allen remarked, "You don't know how good it feels to get out of Philadelphia. They treat you like cattle. It was like a form of slavery. Once you step out of bounds they'll do everything possible to destroy your soul." (79) Former player and manager Dallas Green concurs, stating that "the press doesn't like to talk positively about sports in this town." (80) Many Philadelphia fans would likely agree with this statement, yet the local and national media in 1993 were enthralled with the story of the throwback Phillies. The team drew more than three million fans for the first time in the city's baseball history, including when it fielded two teams. (81) The fans loved the 1993 Phillies and continue to think of them as winners, despite having lost the big game in heart-breaking fashion. When Donovan McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, he was branded a loser. McNabb left everything he had on the field (including the contents of his stomach), but he was not embraced and was traded to the rival Washington Redskins. Conversely, Jon Runyan, a white offensive lineman for the Eagles, was often chosen for local car dealership commercials and billboards. Usually, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and linebackers are asked to do such promotions before linemen, yet Runyan was seen as more emblematic of the Eagles' toughness. While Howard, Rollins, and Victorino are beloved in Philadelphia, I have to wonder where they would stand if the Phillies would have lost the World Series in 2008.
Daulton claims that "everybody in America could relate to some guy on that team, and that's the kind of personalities that we had." (82) Trujillo writes that "media representations of sport personalize hegemonic masculinity when they elevate individuals who embody its features as role models or heroes worthy of adoration." (83) The worries over the diminishing importance of the white athlete and the privileging of heteronormative, white masculinity within society could be allayed, if only briefly, knowing that men like the Phillies could still go the distance and excel. Through rhetorical terms like blue-collar and throwback, the Phillies were represented as men's men who worked harder, had more fun, and wanted to succeed more than ungrateful, greedy white athletes or complacent, cocky black athletes. Kruk succinctly wrapped up this suggestion in the title of his book, "I Ain't an Athlete, Lady ...", in which Kruk implied that he was not a role model, but merely a ballplayer. However, considering the connotative associations inherently tied to the 1993 Phillies, Kruk and his teammates ended up being role models anyway.
(1.) Dave Zirin, A People's History of Sport in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play (New York: The New Press, 2008), 148.
(2.) James L. Nolan Jr., "Political Discourse in America's Culture Wars," in The American Culture Wars: Current Contests and Future Prospects, ed. James L. Nolan Jr. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996), 155.
(3.) R. W. Connell, Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 202.
(4.) Connell, Masculinities, 244.
(5.) Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (The Fifteenth Anniversary Edition) (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006), 243.
(6.) Robert Gordon and Tom Burgoyne, More Than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies (And the Phanatic Too) (New York: Sports Publishing L.L.C., 2002), 106.
(7.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 102.
(8.) Since concentrating on one aspect of identity often leads to a narrow view of a subject, I will analyze both race and masculinity as it pertains to the 1993 Phillies. Susan Birrell and Mary McDonald, "Reading Sports, Articulating Power Lines: An Introduction," in Reading Sports: Critical Essays on Power and Repression (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000), 3.
(9.) "Philadelphia city, Pennsylvania," US Census Bureau, http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-context=adp&qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_Goo_DP3YR&ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_Goo_&-tree_id=3307&-redoLog=true&-_caller=geoselect&-geo_id=i6000US42600008c-format_Jang=en (accessed April 21, 2009).
(10.) William C. Kashatus, September Swoon: Richie Allen, the '64 Phillies, and Racial Integration (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2004), 15.
(11.) Kashatus, September Swoott, xiii
(12.) Kashatus, September Swoon, 26.
(13.) Kashatus, September Swoon, 26.
(14.) Kashatus, September Swoon, 3.
(15.) Kashatus, September Swoon, 27.
(16.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 290.
(17.) For a look into the shameful racial history of the Phillies, see Kashatus's September Swoon. Kashatus describes the racial taunting endured by Jackie Robinson, the questionable treatment of Dick Allen, and Curt Flood's case for free agency.
(18.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 290.
(19.) Matthew Frye Jacobson, "'Richie' Allen, Whitey's Ways, and Me: A Political Education in the 1960s," in In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century, ed. Amy Bass (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 27.
(20.) High Hopes: The Anatomy of a Winner, directed by Dan Stephenson (Philadelphia: The Phillies, 2003), DVD.
(21.) Jacobson, "'Richie' Allen," 19.
(22.) Michael L. Butterworth, "Pitchers and Catchers: Mike Piazza and the Discourse of Gay Identity in the National Pastime," Journal of Sport and Social Issues (May 2006): 142.
(23.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(24.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 55.
(25.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 144.
(26.) Zirin, A People's History of Sport, 113.
(27.) Daniel Rosensweig, Retro Ball Parks: Instant History, Baseball, and the New American City (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2005), 114.
(28.) Rosensweig, Retro Ball Parks, 113.
(29.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(30.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 291.
(31.) The Black List: Volume 1, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (New York: HBO Documentary Films, 2008).
(32.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(33.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 55.
(34.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(35.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(36.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 99.
(37.) Susan Faludi, Backlash, 243.
(38.) Nick Trujillo, "Hegemonic Masculinity on the Mound: Media Representations of Nolan Ryan and American Sports Culture," Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8 (1991): 291.
(39.) Trujillo, "Hegemonic Masculinity on the Mound," 292.
(40.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(41.) Butterworth, "Pitchers and Catchers," 144.
(42.) Butterworth, "Pitchers and Catchers," 151.
(43.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 155.
(44.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 2.
(45.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 104.
(46.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(47.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(48.) Joel Dinerstein, "Backfield in Motion: The Transformation of the NFL by Black Culture," in In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century, ed. Amy Bass (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 169.
(49.) Trujillo, "Hegemonic Masculinity on the Mound," 300.
(50.) Rich Westcott, Tales from the Phillies Dugout, (Champaign: Sports Publishing L.L.C., 2006), 133.
(51.) Westcott, Tales from the Phillies Dugout, 133.
(52.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 296.
(53.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 122.
(54.) Ethan J. Skolnick, "Where Have Baseball's Characters Gone? Old-Timers Lament That Weirdness is Punished, Disparaged' in Today's Game," NBC Sports, last modified April 13, 2009, http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/29878446.
(55.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 296.
(56.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(57.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(58.) Rosensweig, Retro Ball Parks, 115.
(59.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(60.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(61.) Birrell and McDonald, "Reading Sports, Articulating Power Lines," 3.
(62.) Butterworth, "Pitchers and Catchers," 151.
(63.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(64.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 139.
(65.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 144.
(66.) Orodenker, The Phillies Reader, 291.
(67.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(68.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(69.) Westcott, Tales from the Phillies Dugout, 126.
(70.) David W. Zang, Sports Wars: Athletes in the Age of Aquarius (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 145.
(71.) Zang, Sports Wars, 148.
(72.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(73.) Graeme Kent, The Great White Hopes: The Quest to Defeat Jack Johnson (Thrupp, Glouchestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2005), xi.
(74.) Kent, The Great White Hopes, xi.
(75.) Westcott, Tales from the Phillies Dugout, 127.
(76.) James Deacon, "A Clash of Cultures: Toronto the Good meets Philadelphia's Nasty Boys," Maclean's (October, 251993): 42-43. Steve Wulf, "John Kruk and John Olerud," Sports Illustrated, October 1993, 28-29.
(77.) Deacon, "A Clash of Cultures, 42-43.
(78.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(79.) William C. Kashatus, "Dick Allen, the Phillies, and Racism," NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 9, nos. 1 & 2 (2000-2001): 177.
(80.) Kashatus, September Swoon, 177.
(81.) Gordon and Burgoyne, More Than Beards, 92.
(82.) High Hopes, directed by Dan Stephenson, DVD.
(83.) Trujillo, "Hegemonic Masculinity on the Mound," 292-93.…