It was a random weekday not long ago. I was driving on Pattison Avenue toward the stadiums when I looked to my right. Hunter Pence was staring back at me. He was on the side of a SEPTA bus. There was a giant grin on his face and a sandwich in his hands. It was an ad for Liscio’s Bakery. Not surprisingly, the ballplayer turned pitch man was featured along with his now ubiquitous catchphrase: “Let’s Go Eat.”
In less than a year, Pence has gone from being an outfielder for the Houston Astros, to the player almost every Philadelphian wanted the team to acquire before the trade deadline last season, to an area sensation fawned over by hardcore fans and casual observers alike. That is a steep and treacherous climb, but Pence made the ascent quicker than anyone I can remember. People who spend their entire lives here rarely agree on what makes someone a “Philly Guy” – so how is it that Pence, an outsider in every way, figured out how to become one so quickly?