Ruben Amaro Jr. Talks Water Ice, Brisket and Blowing Bubbles

The former Phillies GM and player — himself the son of a former Phils player and coach — also shares why he prefers Old City to Bucks County and what he thinks of the team's playoff chances.

Rubén Amaro Jr.

Ruben Amaro Jr. / Photograph by Stevie Chris

I was born at … Jefferson Hospital. We lived in Rhawnhurst before moving to Bustleton when I was in my early 20s, and my mom is still there.

These days, I live in … Old City. I was in Bucks County for years, but my daughter finally convinced me to move down here.

I first joined the Phillies … in 1980, technically. I was a bat boy. It was phenomenal. The impetus behind me becoming a player.

My father taught me … to respect people and how to command respect, but in a subtle way.

People might not know that I am … 50 percent Ashkenazi Jew, 20 percent sub-Saharan African, and the rest Cuban, Spanish and Mexican. I might be the only Jewish Black Cuban Mexican that you know.

When the Phillies won the World Series in 1980 … my dad got a World Series bonus and used part of it to buy me my first car, a sea-foam green Honda Accord.

The most memorable game of my career was … my first start as a Phillie. It was the second game of the season in 1992, and I hit a home run — Harry Kalas made the call and actually handed me the audio tape afterward — and two doubles. The only reason I was even in the game was because Lenny Dykstra fractured his hand in the first game.

I met my girlfriend, Lori … in Cleveland more than 30 years ago. We dated way back then, before I was married and divorced twice, and recently reconnected when she moved to Philadelphia. She’s a boudoir photographer.

When I have a reason to celebrate, you’ll find me at … Zahav. I know it’s hard to get reservations, but I have an “in.”

My starting salary in baseball was … $700 a month, before taxes, if you can believe that.

I would describe my tenure as Phillies GM as … gratifying. Mostly.

Now, my connection to the team … is that I’m a broadcaster. It’s nice now that my house is 11 minutes from the stadium. That commute from Bucks was brutal.

My favorite food at Citizens Bank Park is … the brisket at Greg “The Bull” Luzinski’s barbecue joint there. Shake Shack is a close second.

When a parent tells me they want their kid to grow up to be a baseball star, I say … make sure they are educated, first and foremost. Books, not bats, are the priority.

When I go for water ice, I usually get … the thing that’s a combination of mango water ice with custard.

For the Fourth of July, I will probably be … standing on or near the Ben Franklin Bridge, watching the fireworks. My new house is right at the bridge.

The chances of the Phillies making the playoffs this year are … about 80 percent. I like the talent, and I’m hopeful.

My secret talent is that … I can blow bubbles out from under my tongue. It’s a really bizarre talent. I just did it now.

If there’s one thing I could change about baseball today … I would teach young players how to play the game again. There’s such an emphasis now on maximizing every player’s output and personal success. But I would like to focus more on playing to win. That’s very old-school thinking, but that’s how I feel.

Philadelphia sports fans are … perhaps the only sports fans who believe they can actually impact the outcome of a game.


Published as “One of Us: Ruben Amaro Jr.” in the July 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.