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March 03, 2017

Chase Utley once chugged a bowl of chowder seconds before crushing a baseball

Peter Gammons is a Hall of Fame baseball writer, but much more importantly to us in Philadelphia, he has recently cornered the market on Chase Utley stories that rival anything Chuck Norris or Bill Brasky ever accomplished. Remember hearing about the time Utley asked an opposing pitcher to hit him? Or the time he impersonated a batboy to give an umpire a piece of his mind? Maybe these unconfirmed stories don’t necessarily count as Utley news, but they’re sure as hell entertaining.

Adding to Utley’s legend in a recent piece on the resurgence of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, Gammons writes that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, his coaching staff, and players (especially reigning National League Rookie of the Year Corey Seager) were begging Dodgers president Andrew Friedman to re-sign Utley.

Which the Dodgers eventually did, which isn’t why we’re writing about Utley on March 3rd. No, Gammons tells another incredible story, this one about a time before “The Man” became a household name in Philadelphia and Public Enemy No. 1 in New York. Utley was playing in the Cape Cod League and involves him chugging clam chowder.

From Gammons:

Chase is really intense, and he can say things to players no one else can,” says one of the star pitchers. He’s at the park studying video, reports, Pitch/FX, then hitting from two on for a night game. During games, he takes preparation swings and studies video of relievers he might face if inserted into the game. But that’s who he is. When Utley played for Brewster in the Cape Cod League, he once got to the field at one for a seven p.m. game, hit, ran, took grounders. But when the game started, he’d forgotten to eat, so he paid a batboy to get him a breadbowl of clam chowder from the concession stand.

Problem is, the three hitters in front of him all swung at the first pitch, one a hit, so when it came time for him to get out of the on-deck circle, Utley had to chug the remainder of the chowder, hand the breadbowl to the batboy, go up to the plate…and rip the first pitch off the right field fence. I know a Marlins executive that was on that team, Yankee scout Matt Hyde who was the pitching coach, and they swear to it. “That’s the kind of guru every team needs,” says Hyers. “And when it’s a potential Hall of Famer who is one of the most respected persons in the game, it carries a lot of weight.”

My only familiarity with the Cape Cod League is from watching the 2002 Academy Award for Best Picture, “Summer Catch.” Regardless of what era they come from (UCLA, minor leagues, Phillies, Dodgers), we humbly request more incredible Utley stories from Gammons or whoever else can dig them up.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann