The Phillies Thirty-Eight

by longformphilly

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Brian Hickey | | May 2012

There’s a smoking section near the first-base gate of Nationals Park. On Saturday, it hosted a mixed batch of fans. You could tell who was whom by the lettering on their red-and-white gear.

What gave Josh Carter away was the black Zorro mask, sombrero, and Phillies-cape combo that accentuated a drawn-on mustache and Raul Ibanez Phillies jersey.

“When I heard about this trip, I knew I had to go,” he said outside, around the same time Jayson Werth hit a three-run dinger that managed to muzzle the right-field Phillies fans heckling him heavily up till that point. “They haven’t done it since the draft. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The draft of which Carter spoke was the 1999 NFL draft, for which Philadelphia sports-talk radio station WIP organized “The Dirty 30,” a crew of fans who traveled to NYC and lustily booed the announcement of the No. 2 overall pick, Donovan McNabb. The quarterback seemingly never got over that moment, and neither did anyone else—the event still on heavy rotation on the “Philadelphia fans are horrible people” playlist.

The trip that Carter referenced was the “Phillies Phorty Bus.” It consisted of 40 fans, in numbered T-shirts, who drew enough respect from WIP’s morning-show host, Angelo Cataldi, to be included in the first trip he’s honchoed since that draft event. It would prove to be a disaster, at least for some of the fans. This is the story of how the Phillies Phorty became the Phillies Thirty-Eight.

Writer bio: Brian Hickey, a South Jersey native and graduate of the University of Delaware, has written for both alt-weeklies as well as Metro Philadelphia and Hickey joined WHYY in 2011.

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