March 16, 2017
CLEARWATER, Fla. – When the Phillies visit Dodger Stadium next month, on Saturday, April 29, all fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead figurine of one of baseball’s brightest young stars, reigning National League Rookie of the Year Corey Seager.
Bobbleheads are arguably the most popular giveaway item at baseball games, particularly in the last 15 years or so, when the old-school toy became popularized again at ballparks across the country. The Dodgers may be baseball’s most bobble-friendly team: they have 10 different Bobblehead Giveaway Nights planned for the 2017 season, honoring everyone from current manager Dave Roberts, left-hander Clayton Kershaw, and long-time Brooklyn Dodgers star Gil Hodges, among others. (No, there’s no Chase Utley Bobblehead night scheduled … yet. The Dodgers have an “Unknown” bobble in late September).
The Dodgers have fun with it, too, producing what was arguably the most popular and unique bobblehead in the last five years when the memorialized the night in April of 1976 when Cubs outfielder Rick Monday saved an American flag from being burned by two idiots who ran onto the field at Dodger Stadium.
Rick Monday Bobblehead. pic.twitter.com/sVEmF95oBg— Jarrid Smith (@jarridsumner) August 28, 2013
Just look at that. It’s a beautiful thing.
Not every bobblehead is a success, though.
Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, who famously has heterochromia iridum, had his condition turned into a bobble while with the Detroit Tigers… and it scared some folks (probably because it looks more like a cartoon than Scherzer). Scherzer’s current teammate and former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth saw a bobblehead of his taken off the market before it was released because it was so … odd.
In the last decade or so, the Phillies have traditionally had a couple of Bobblehead Nights each season. They could probably stand to have more. It’s a popular collector’s item that should bring more people through the turnstiles, right?
Growing up a baseball fan from the mid-80s through the late-90s in Philadelphia, there wasn’t much memorable baseball but I definitely remember waiting in the line outside Veterans Stadium with hundreds of folks waiting to get the Harry and Whitey Bobblehead figurine, commemorating the popular broadcast duo of Hall of Famers Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn.
The Phillies will have another popular bobblehead for fans on July 8: Mike Schmidt breaking into his 500th home run dance. The 2017 season marks 30 years since Schmidt’s memorable blast in Pittsburgh.
Why stop here, Phillies?
Inspired by Schmidt, the Dodgers and Rick Monday, and many other great ones minor league teams have produced in recent seasons, we came up with a list of a dozen more Bobblehead Nights for the Phillies. Here they are, in no particular order:
The popular first baseman of the ’93 NL Pennant-winning Phillies is back with the club as one of Comcast SportsNet’s analysts for television broadcasts this season. So why not honor him with a Bobblehead Night, using his infamous words from his time as a professional... baseball player?
Picture this: Krukker in his prime, slumped over a chair by his Veterans Stadium locker stall, his jersey top untucked and his cap off, revealing his early 90s mullet in all its glory, with an aluminum can in his hand. No, that’s not a beer! It’s just a generic aluminum can, you know, like those generic hats and jerseys athletes sometimes wear in advertisements. That beverage could be anything you want it to be.
Among individual plays in Phillies history, while putting aside the World Series clinching strikeouts in 1980 and 2008, does it get more iconic that the penultimate out of the ’80 Series?
This was teamwork at its finest, and it epitomized how Pete Rose played the game, always physically and mentally prepared for every play. To put a nice bow on the play, Rose playfully bounces the ball off the infield turf to celebrate the out.
The bobblehead version is pretty simple: Rose swooping in underneath Boone, with both of their gloves in motion. You’re welcome.
Other than his laser-like precision throughout a large portion of his stay in Philadelphia, most notably in those three months in 2009 during his first tenure with the team, Cliff Lee was known for his nonchalance. He often didn’t look like he had a care in the world. I mean, the man was very good at throwing a baseball and he was well-compensated for it, so, sure, why worry?
For as many great games as Lee hurled in a Phillies uniform, there’s one play that is far more memorable: when he was in the middle of hurling a shutout in Game 1 of the ’09 World Series at Yankee Stadium and barely moved off the mound to catch an infield fly off the bat of Johnny Damon. Things you didn’t notice at the time: Ryan Howard goes through the signs of the cross immediately after the catch.
We can play around a little bit with the facts here. Jimmy Rollins never held up a newspaper with the headline “We’re the Team to Beat” emblazoned on the top fold, but wouldn’t that mental picture (with J-Roll’s trademark smile) make for a perfect bobblehead?
Rollins’ famous words came during the winter of 2006-07, when general manager Pat Gillick saw a lineup of All-Star hitters in their prime and complemented it by adding two proven veteran pitchers to go with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, and Jamie Moyer. Nevermind that those two veteran pitchers were Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton. Rollins liked what he saw from the front office and declared the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East, and sure enough, they overtook the New York Mets in the final month of the season to end a 13-year playoff drought.
Look, we can’t just concentrate on the winning Phillies teams. The Phillies have a long history and a lot of it didn’t involve winning teams. So let’s invite lovable utility man Tomas Perez back to town, have him throw out the first pitch … and then, without him knowing, have someone like Freddy Galvis run onto the field and slam him with a pie in the face.
Perez played for parts of five seasons (2000-05) with the Phillies, just before the team’s memorable run. Let’s include an all-time great Phillie in the pie-in-your-face bobble: Perez can nail his fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu with a face-full of shaving cream in this bobble figurine.
If you’re noticing that most of these bobbleheads recognize players from the last 40 years, well, you guessed my age right. We’ll have an old school one coming up on this list in a bit, I promise. But as for iconic moments at Citizens Bank Park, Rowand sacrificing his face (and his head, really) to make a catch in the first inning of an early May game in 2006 against the Mets.
There are two options with the bobble: one of Rowand’s head bobbing into the wall (this feels too graphic) and the other of his Rocky Balboa-looking face at the press conference a few days later when he memorably answered the Ricky Watters’ “For Who? For What?” question wit this gem: “For who? My teammates. For what? To win. That’s what it’s all about.” I’m going with the latter.
When creating this list, this was an easy one to consider cutting since Schilling was never really a likable player among many of his teammates (and this moment surely didn’t help) and he hasn’t really become much of a likable person in recent years either, getting fired from ESPN for his, at best, politically-incorrect outspokenness on social media.
But it’s just a great bobblehead so we couldn’t let this opportunity pass. Schilling told me a few years ago this whole thing was overblown (I can’t find the link to that story, sadly) and, to be fair, he apparently made the towel over the head a regular thing in his other big league stops, too, according to a quick search of the Associated Press photo wire. But this moment commemorated on a bobblehead coming to CBP sometime soon was when Schilling, removed from the game, had to watch the erratic Mitch Williams pitch in the postseason.
It was like someone watching a horror movie, afraid to watch so much that all they could do is peer through their fingers. It’s a perfect bobblehead.
There are three letters you could more accurately use to describe this bobblehead. We all know what happened, what he said. And there’s nothing more to be said here, other than that this (with Utley grinning wearing that beanie) would be arguably the most popular bobblehead in the history of Philadelphia.
When you earn the nickname “Lefty,” you’ve done something right. Steve Carlton isn’t just the best Phillies pitcher in the franchise’s long history, but one of the best left-handers in baseball history, too. Carlton’s fastball-curveball-slider repertoire helped him strike out 4,136 batters, fourth in MLB history.
And it was that same repertoire that led to this famously terrific quote from Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell in 1972: “Hitting against Steve Carlton is like eating soup with a fork.” Perfect: Steve Carlton, in full powder blue and maroon uniform, sitting down, smiling, with a bowl of soup in one hand and a fork in the other. In Bobblehead form.
Sometimes the most obvious ideas are the best because they’re obvious for good reason. The Phillies had gone nearly an entire century of existence (from 1883 through 1979) without ever being crowned baseball’s champion until Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson to end Game 6 of the 1980 World Series.
The Brad Lidge-Carlos Ruiz hug should have probably been on a bobblehead already, too. But McGraw came first. Let’s make it happen. His son, Tim, can throw out the first pitch.
Full disclosure: nearly knocked this off the list at the last minute in favor of a 2008 Game 5 of the World Series bobblehead, of a drenched Cole Hamels delivering to the plate (with a detachable umbrella you can prop over his head). Of course that was a memorable game, as was his last in a Phillies uniform at Wrigley Field two summers ago.
But has Hamels ever looked more dominant than on that Sunday night in Cincinnati in Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS? It’s easy to forget that game since it was just two games after Roy Halladay’s postseason no-hitter and only 13 days before the Phillies were eliminated by the Giants.
But to clinch a series sweep over the Reds, Hamels held the home team to five hits in a shutout, striking out nine of the 31 batters he faced, including some guy named Scott Rolen to end the game. Hamels celebrated with a fist pump that became an endless meme, thanks to the folks at zoowithroy.com.
Even Hamels got in on the photoshop fun a couple of years later.
OK, OK. I hear you. This got awful dark all of a sudden. I apologize. I’m not trying to make light of a man getting shot by a madwoman in Chicago in 1949. Since Waitkus survived – and was back in the Phillies lineup on Opening Day the next year, even – it’s perfectly OK to use a bobblehead to teach kids some history. Because I bet very few of those kids know that a Philadelphia Phillie inspired Bernard Malamud’s 'The Natural.' Also: guns are not toys nor are they safe, kids!
I hate to end on a guy getting shot, so let’s throw three more Phillies bobblehead ideas out there quickly:
• No one can forget Matt Stairs iconic home run at Dodger Stadium in the 2008 NLCS. You know what was even better? When he said how there was no better feeling than “getting his (butt) hammered by guys” upon returning to the dugout. So, that: a bobble of Stairs getting congratulated by, say, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, at the top of the visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium.
• The aforementioned Harry Kalas-Richie Ashburn Bobble is the best in Phillies bobblehead history, although Charlie Manuel Celebrating the World Series Bobblehead is right there, too. Since Kalas is so popular, let’s roll out one of him calling the final out in 2008 with another long-time broadcaster by his side in Chris Wheeler. Yes, it’ll be Wheels’ arms doing the bobbing here.
• Robin Roberts. The Phillies have not had a Robin Roberts bobblehead yet as far as I know. (If you know differently, please tell me). This has to be corrected. The late Roberts wasn’t just one of the nicest people you felt lucky enough to have met, but a Hall of Fame pitcher who pitched three times in a five-day span (including 10 innings in the third of those games, to collect his 20th win) to help the Phillies clinch the pennant in 1950. Give the man a bobbing head.