HATBORO, Pa. – It’s the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park, and the Philadelphia Phillies reducers are back at it again. They already blew up one lead, with Jeurys Familia and Seranthony Domínguez dropping homers on the seventh. Now that he’s back, the game is down with Corey Kneppel being the closest on the hill.
The Miami Marlins won it, 11-9, and from the sofa of his suburban living room here, Matt Edwards sighs.
“Celebrating some of these guys is really hard,” he said.
Actually it is: The Phillies are the only National League team that hasn’t featured in a playoff game in the past 10 years, and their Revolution is an annual adventure. Nostalgia can be a tempting escape (beer helps too), and no one celebrates the past quite like Edwards, a 45-year-old telecommunications salesman, his wife Cheryl, two young sons and a big Dane — and a shrine in the basement. Pigeons for Retired Phillies Relief Jugs.
“We’re well aware we weren’t one of the five starters or any of the guys on the field,” said Chad Durbin, who spent four seasons as Phillies’ savior. “But, you know, we had our moments. So when we remember, we embrace that.”
Durbin has logged 225 games for the Phillies, including postseason, with an earned run average of 4.07. He has been in five other bands, but as far as he knows, none of their fans have had a picture of him in their bathroom. As you might imagine, Durbin has no attendance at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY either.
He said, “Absolutely not.” “But I do it in the relief room.”
The relief room is what Edwards calls his bathroom, because that is where one goes to relieve himself. This is the joke.
Edwards played third base in the minor league and left field in men’s softball. His sons are not pitchers. His favorite active player is first baseman, Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins. But like a comedian who finds endless material by staying true to the piece, Edwards has created a brand around gamers who don’t respect and don’t respect at all.
He said in his home office, which is overflowing with antiques that don’t quite fit in a 3-foot by 8-foot museum around the corner.
“But that was the fun of looking through the cards, trying to find that guy. Well, now I don’t want Mike Schmidts or Bryce Harpers. I want to stand up for guys like Schatzider and Andy Carter and Amalio Carreno, because nobody does that. Celebrating the little guy who doesn’t remember him.” One of the most talked about stars, because everyone knows about them.
2022 MLB Season
“Relax, okay? Don’t try to hit everyone. Blows are boring! Besides, they are fascists. Throw some globes, it would be more democratic.”
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- king throws: Tom House has spent his life helping the stars get better. With a new app, he wants to fix young shooters before they develop their bad habits.
“Nobody knows about Tyson Promet. He’s one of those coffee cup buddies. That’s why this was made in a cup of coffee — enjoy a cup of coffee with Erskine Thomason.”
Edwards comes up with a custom-made mug with the black-and-white look of Thomason, who delivered the ninth loss inning on September 18, 1974, in his only league appearance. The final statistical website, Baseball Reference, uses a blank header with a question mark next to Thomason’s name. That would be blasphemy for Edwards.
He knows that Thomason has been the subject of an NFL Films documentary and that the filmmakers, who have followed him throughout the season, somehow missed his one game and had to re-record the footage. He also knows that Brommet made one match in 2012 and later died in a plane crash. He knows Carter was sent off from his first major league game, and Carino from his last.
And of course, he knows that Schatzider spent many years as a high school physical education teacher in Illinois.
“If you look at this guy, you can totally imagine him wearing a tracksuit with a whistle around his neck,” Edwards said. “That’s cool. Who is going to sing his song from the top of a mountain? If it’s not me, who?”
For Edwards, there is a fidelity to satire. He remembers when his high school teammate was drafted by the Mets, how exciting it was that a major league team wanted someone to know him. Less than 23,000 people took part in a game in major companies; You can put them all in the old Veterans Stadium, with more than 40,000 seats available.
They all have stories, and if they happen to make a rest in Phillies, Edwards considers it his job to tell them. Edwards majors in English at the University of New Hampshire and reads extensively on his subjects, capturing fun facts about each and organizing them by date on his computer. He sends many tweets a day to A humble group of followers With a few famous names – famous for Edwards, at least.
“He loves Tom Hume,” said Scott Eyre, a left-wing specialist from the late 2000s, referring to a bespectacled right-wing man in the 1980s. “He would probably lose consciousness if Tom Hume went to the relief room.”
Ayer did, in early 2020, after his signature appeared nearby. (Edwards wore a Hume shirt for the occasion.) Eyre, who only knew Edwards from Twitter, became the first to comfort himself in the relief room. It was so natural that he would hang out with Edwards for hours, after one in the morning, drinking beer, opening old packets of cards and telling the tales of Chuck McIlroy, Dan Plessak, and other honorees he knew.
It is safe to say that a pilgrimage to see the Velez fan bath is something Ayer did not expect at all. Ayer is a California native now living in North Carolina, and he once had a no-trade clause in Philadelphia. When the Cubs sent him there in 2008, John Lieber, a teammate who had played for Velez, asked what to expect.
“He said, my friend, you will love it there, and they will love you,” said Eyre. I said: What do you mean? He said, “You are a pause man and you are who you are.” And this was absolutely true. If you go out and do your job and admit the mistakes you made, they will still love you. They just want to yell at you a little bit, and that’s okay.”
Ayer came to understand the essence of Philadelphia fans: they always expect to win, no matter the circumstances, and they also want to be heard. Then the failure feels like a personal insult and gives fans permission to boo. But they embrace players who don’t make excuses and genuinely show that they care.
Take Mitch Williams, the only man alive who gave up Homer to lose the World Championship, to Joe Carter of Toronto in 1993. Williams, better known as the Wild Thing, is a popular champion for Phillies fans and duly honored in Relief. room.
“On the easy level, it’s the mullet and the headband and things like that, but he’d break it every time there,” Edwards said. “His bravery, his manhood, the way he was walking around. You could tell he didn’t want anyone to walk, he just wanted to shoot and get everyone out. But he was responsible, and that’s huge.”
Williams is among the few known painkillers in the Edwards Gallery. Most had less influence, such as Kyle Abbott, Josh Lindblom and Wally Ritchie, who followed Edwards on Twitter. They are among the 300 or so faces lining bathroom walls, mostly on baseball cards but dozens on larger photos, like Renee Martin’s picture above the mirror.
“There’s something new there,” Edwards’ mother, Joanne, told him when she noticed it. “He’s looking straight at me, and I don’t like his face.”
Martin was only briefly involved with the Phillies, but Edwards loves that he showed up to Kansas City in the clincher at the 1980 World Championships, when Togh McGraw closed out the Phillies’ first championship. After the second photo, in 2008, Edwards’ father, Jim, hung two photos above the toilet: one of McGraw and one of Brad Lidge, both celebrating in October.
Edwards bought the house from his father a few years later, kept the pictures of McGraw and Lidge and added everything else – the soap bar depicting Sparky Lyle, Ron Reed’s commemorative soda can, Kleenex four-sided dispenser with Porfi Altamirano, Warren Brusstar, Tom Helgendorff and Barry Jones.
The handle on the cabinet is a broken bat barrel by Don Carman; Retired ground guard Phillies sent her to Edwards. Kind savior Greg Harris wrote his picture: “Using both hands in the relief room.” Artist Dick Perez, once the official Hall of Fame artist, has donated an original portrait of Helgendorf – Edwards’ hero to save a drowning boy from a swimming pool.
“And then the ’10-cent beer night’ thing in Cleveland,” Edwards said. “He was hiding in a chair, blood spurting—and at the next game, he’s six hits and he gets six hits!”
If you need some relief room time, there’s a basket with issues from old magazines like “Feliz Today,” with Steve Bedrosian and Jeff Barrett in firefighter gear at the front. There is a collection of McGraw comics from the 1970s and Guess-The-Moustache. (Failure to recognize Altamirano results in an automatic loss of the whole letter score.)
Edwards said there are tentative plans to expand the relief room, if he and Cheryl can move the washer and dryer out of the adjacent mudroom. For now, though, Edwards needs a place for his latest treasure: the cleats worn by Toby Borland, a skinny soldier from the ’90s. His colleagues, Brain and Mike Carroll, bought it for $30 on eBay.
The cleats can be easily placed on the wall above the toilet, which is often an empty space. But Edwards said that section is sacred and strictly reserved for loosers of championship teams. Phyllis have recently improved but are still recovering from their slow start. They may need to summon McGraw’s spirit to make this their year.
“Cheryl is like, ‘There’s a lot of space in there, do something else with it,’” Edwards said. “I’m waiting. This is the point. This is the optimist in me: I will fill this wall.”
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