2014: Philly’s Biggest Winners and Heroes

Here's who left the year better than they found it.

Without further adieu, a list of Philadelphia’s winners and heroes, 2014. (And when you’re done, check our our biggest losers list.) In no particular order….

Mo’ne Davis

Did anybody in Philadelphia have a better year than Davis, who pitched the Taney Dragons into the Little League World Series? She’s AP’s Female Athlete of the Year, had a documentary made about her by Spike Lee, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, was a guest on the Tonight Show and on and on and on. Most amazingly, she seems to be handling the blaze of attention with a level head.

The Counterculture

And the No. 1 reason to be thankful...

And the No. 1 reason to be thankful…

Gay marriage and decriminalized weed used to sound like the fantasy ravings of some leftist political party too extreme for Ralph Nader. Now, in Philadelphia, they’re the law of the land.

Seth Williams

He took Kathleen Kane’s double-dog dare and put the “abandoned sting” case before a grand jury. The tally so far? Three Philly Democrats charged with various offenses for accepting (and not reporting) substantial gifts they received from a confidential informer. In one fell swoop, he burnished his tough-on-corruption credential while speeding the downfall of Kane, a rival.

Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke

2014 was the year the City Council set City Hall’s agenda, and it was Clarke who often set the council’s agenda. Mayor Nutter’s one big initiative — selling PGW to a private bidder — failed on the shoals of Clarke’s simple unwillingness to move. Meanwhile, the big initiatives coming out of council — weed decriminalization, a hate-crimes law protecting gays and lesbians, sick leave for Philadelphia workers — all became law, or were on the way. Why would Clarke run for mayor?

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

If you’re a civil libertarian, there’s a large gap between the Philly Police Department and your ideal. Let’s not kid ourselves. But as 2014 comes to a close with officers from the NYPD turning their backs on the mayor of their city, remember this: It was Ramsey who requested a federal review of his department’s use of force issues, before it became a national issue. It was Ramsey’s department that handled this fall’s protests with a minimum of fuss, publicly proclaiming fealty to the First Amendment time and time again. And it is Ramsey, as co-chair of President Obama’s task force on 21st century policing, who might best be positioned to spearhead real change in the problems plaguing departments nationwide. Yes, the Philadelphia Police Department has serious problems in its own culture — but looking around the nation at the end of this ugly year, we’re more grateful for Ramsey’s leadership than we expected to be.

Schuylkill River Development Corp.

The Schuylkill River Boardwalk opened and was an immediate hit. We can have nice things.

Kevin Hart


This Philly-bred comedian has been a rising star for years. In 2014, with a string of hit movies under his belt and this delightfully weird Madden commercial going viral, there was no doubt: Hart is now on Hollywood’s A list.

John Dougherty

At the beginning of the year, the Pennsylvania Convention Center seemed to be going bust, and unions were getting the blame. Now? Neither seems to be the case anymore. New Johnny Doc? Old Johnny Doc? Either way, he gets a lot of the credit.

 Chief Justice Ronald Castille

Ronald Castille

Ronald Castille

Yes, he’s leaving office under state rules mandating retirement at 70. But he didn’t leave quietly. And he didn’t leave first. Did the rest of us win in his feud with a fellow Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice? That’s a more difficult question to answer.