Twenty years ago, a bunch of misfits and outcasts captured the hearts of Phillies fans with their worst-to-first season before losing the World Series in six games.
That love affair still exists and was obvious during Alumni Weekend, which began on Aug. 1. The 1993 Phillies' gritty play and blue-collar work ethic is what stood out. Philadelphia loves hard-nosed athletes who grind it out.
Danny Jackson talked about how the city embraced that bunch. Jackson pitched for World Series championship teams in Kansas City (1985) and Cincinnati ('90).
"In Cincinnati, they still remember the 1990 team, but not to this extent with this city," he said. "The Royals, they've won only one in their whole history. There's a lot of people that remember it, but there's a whole lot of people that don't even know when I walk around the street at home who I am. But when I walk around here, they know exactly who I am."
Jackson made his remarks during a Saturday media conference with Mickey Morandini, Jim Fregosi and Lee Thomas. It was an entertaining 30 minutes.
No one all weekend was as entertaining as Larry Andersen and Mitch Williams were during the Alumni Luncheon for Seniors on Thursday. That pair should take their show on the road. The luncheon was taped and will appear later on On Demand on Comcast SportsNet.
The 1993 team was also very close-knit. They bonded in Spring Training and it carried throughout the season. That bonding was evident during Alumni Weekend, which was filled with a lot of hugs and laughs. Pregame introductions on Saturday and Sunday were awesome, but the real goose bumps came when Darren Daulton was introduced.
That started on Friday night during Wall of Fame ceremonies. Each of the three times he was introduced, the crowd reaction seemed louder. Daulton waved and threw kisses to the fans, which brought on more cheers.
Alumni were treated to receptions in suites and dinner during the games. The first time all the 1993 team saw Darren was Friday night pregame. It was emotional. Daulton was their leader, and now they were hugging and kissing their leader knowing the battle he faces. Daulton was amazing all three days. His stamina was, well … it was typical of "Dutch."
During Friday night's game, Mike Lieberthal, Bob Boone and Daulton -- three Wall of Fame catchers -- changed the bases after the third inning.
"I was hesitant," said Boone. "But with Darren there, I knew I would get the loudest cheer ever," he added, laughing.
Brad Lidge retired as a Phillie on Thursday night. The script had him walking in from the bullpen one last time and then throwing out the first ball. Showing respect for the game and the pitchers, Lidge didn't enter the bullpen proper, he just stood behind the door that opens to the field until he was introduced. Then, he walked around the mound and threw the ball from some 50 feet. Lidge didn't want to step on the mound and make footprints for the starter.
Brad, at 36, was the youngest alumnus introduced Saturday night. Leading the procedure were three players who made their Phils debuts in the 1940s -- right-hander Bob Miller, 87, infielder Don Hasenmayer, 86, and left-hander Curt Simmons, 84. Each needs a cane to get around, so they were brought on the field in golf cart and received a standing ovation.
Dallas Green turned 79 on Sunday. During the game that night in suites 73-74, the alumni sang "Happy Birthday" while Green posed with a large cake. He is rehabbing after having his right shoulder replaced in the middle of July. He's also slowed by a gimpy right knee, but like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going. Green autographed his book for an hour that night.
Hugs were plentiful all weekend. When Tony Taylor first saw Dick Allen, "Hey, roomie," he yelled before they embraced. Taylor, Allen, Jim Bunning, Johnny Briggs and Green were all members of the 1964 Phillies, a team that gained fame -- but for losing, not winning.
Wall of Fame introductions Friday began with a short video of each player. Bunning had a unique style. A right-hander, he fell off to the first-base side of the mound, bracing himself by placing his glove on the ground.
"When I saw that video, I now know why my back hurts," he said, laughing.
During Saturday's 4 p.m. ET game, Greg Luzinski, Boone, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt shared a large round table in the Executive Dining Room. They stayed there through the 13-inning game, reminiscing about the 1980 World Series championship season.
That World Series championship placed them on a high pedestal. Three years later, the "Wheeze Kids" advanced to the World Series, but that team never captured the hearts of Philadelphia. The 1993 team certainly did. Some day, the 2008 World Series will be saluted at a sold-out Citizens Bank Park. That night will be filled with emotion and hugs.
For years, the 1950 Whiz Kids were the toast of the town. Then, the '80 team and '93 team.
When asked about sitting in the same dining room seat throughout Saturday's extra-inning game, Luzinski responded, "Hey, the 1993 guys are coming on. We've got to hold on to our seats."