The Phillies’ Four Aces

Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay have reversed the city's inferiority complex

Philadelphia is the home of the Four Aces, a singing quartet from South Philadelphia, who dominated the record charts in the 1950s with songs like “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”

Fifty years later, a new Four Aces will be playing in South Philadelphia.  They have nothing to do with music, but they will be making records.  The group was formed with the signing of Cliff Lee by the Philadelphia Phillies.  Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have each been called “Ace” pitchers in their past; the fact that they’re pitching together in the prime of their careers is a Christmas miracle.

And to think it may all be because of some idiots in Yankee Stadium who threw beers, taunted and spit at Cliff Lee’s wife during game three of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Texas Rangers in October.   At the time, Cliff Lee played down the incident, but was obviously upset when he told the New York Daily News, “There were some people that were spitting off the balcony on to the family section and stuff like that, which is kind of weak. What can you do?”

You can sign with Philadelphia.

The Yankees reportedly offered Lee almost $30 million more than the Phillies  (and a longer contract), but Lee gave them the Bronx cheer.   The Yankees and their fans already had Lee written into the rotation.   The surprise W.C. Fields announcement by Lee — that all things considered he’d rather be in Philadelphia — has the Yankees scrambling for a non-existent plan B.

Philadelphia sportswriter Randy Lee tweeted this after the signing:

A good source tells me that Cliff Lee’s wife is the main reason he didn’t sign with Yankees. She wanted NO PART of New York, I was told.

Cliff Lee seemed to confirm the tweet at his official Phillies signing news conference when he said, “It’s plenty of money. When you get a certain point, enough is enough. It’s just a matter of where you are comfortable, where your family is comfortable.”

Thank you stupid Yankees fans and thank you Kristen Lee!

With apologies to Lisa Nutter, Kristen Lee is now the First Lady of Philadelphia. She chose Philadelphia fans, who have been beaten up by the national media, especially in comparison to Yankees fans.  This is why Kristen and Cliff Lee will forever be loved — not just because they chose the Phillies, but because they chose Philadelphia over New York.

Stuck between two power centers — New York and Washington —  Philadelphia has middle child syndrome.  We are the Jan Brady of municipalities.   And when anyone shows us some love, or chooses us over Marcia … um, I mean, New York … that person is immediately adored.

I covered the rally at the old JFK stadium after the Phillies won the World Series in 1980.  I remember when Tug McGraw raised the trophy and said, “New York can take this championship and shove it.”

On that day he became immortal in Philadelphia sports history.

Cliff Lee also told New York to shove it and he joins the Tugger in the elite club of the Philadelphia adored.

The great Al Alberts, who died last year, was the lead of the original Four Aces.  My guess is that he is looking down and smiling at the lead of the new Four Aces. And so is Tug.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Monday and Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to