1993 Phillies Had Bellies Full of Beer, But Only Baseball on the Mind

A look back at one of this town's favorite teams.

During the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies have been accused of being unshaven, overweight, long-haired, dumb slobs.

The problem with that barb, from Kevin Nealon on SNL the night the Phils lost Game 6 of the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays—apt though it may seem—is that it sells that team incredibly short. Baseball has no fashion sense. It doesn’t have a Scantron test or a dress code (well, unless you’re a Yankee). It’s not about designer labels, fancy meals or endorsement deals. Hell, there isn’t even a clock. Baseball doesn’t care whether you’re unkempt and chubby or baby-faced and chiseled. It’s three bases, a plate and a mound. It’s 90 feet from home to first. It’s fair or foul, strike or ball, safe or out. Those guys got that.

The 1993 Phillies were obsessed with the game. They went to the ballpark early and stayed late (if they left at all). Ever been hungover and gone running? Try doing it for seven months while competing against the best ball players on the planet. Philly has always been a blue-collar, don’t-get-no-respect kind of town, and that’s exactly what this team embodied. Men wanted to have a beer with them, and women just wanted them. (Former Deadspin editor A.J. Daulerio says Philly’s ladies fawned over the players like New York’s women did over firefighters after 9/11.)

Sure, they nicknamed Jim Eisenreich after a cannibal (Dahmer), and The Dude sat in the trainer’s room in nothing but sliding shorts spitting chew onto a towel in his lap. Yeah, they had a penchant for late-night drinking, an unseemly appearance, and an unhealthy obsession with the 1992 Spin Doctors hit “Two Princes.” That was all part of the package, but it wasn’t the entire package. They were billed as baseball’s everymen; the Average Joe’s of America’s pastime. But, an average Joe doesn’t score 143 runs in a season like Lenny Dykstra did. He doesn’t hit .324 in his first 70 Major League games like Kevin Stocker, or have more home runs and RBIs in so few at-bats than anyone in a non-strike season since Ted Williams in 1950 like Pete Incaviglia did. (You shouldn’t be at all surprised to know that last stat was courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark.)

The 1993 Phillies truly loved the game of baseball. And I don’t mean “love” like how you “love” the Appolonia at Federal Donuts, or how I “love” re-watching episodes of The West Wing. I mean they really loved baseball.

“Baseball was our number one priority. Sadly, some of us may have even put it in front of our families. But, we really felt like that was our season,” John Kruk told me.

The 1993 Phillies ate, slept, drank, and drank baseball. And Philly still loves ’em for it.

Mike Bertha talked to everyone from Curt Schilling to the stadium concessions manager to recount the story of the 1993 Phillies for the April issue of Philadelphia magazine. Read it here.