By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s pretty much a common courtesy in sports for an athlete to thank the fans of a city where that player played a long time after being traded or released. Often time it comes across as something that is more customary than sincere.
Chase Utley’s thank you to the fans of Philadelphia broke that mold. It was more than sincere. It was heartfelt and was a true testimony to how this passionate fan base can impact someone.
Utley’s full-page thank you mentioned a lot of people, but it started with the fans. “Thank you Philadelphia for taking me under your wing 12 years ago,” Utley wrote. “It has been an honor and a dream come true to play for a city with so much passion.”
Philadelphia fans helped to make Utley’s dream come true, while in turn he did the same for us. Players like Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz helped to deliver a title to this city while it was mired in a serious drought.
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Most of that group is no longer here, but even though they all deserve our thanks, they continue to shower thanks upon us.
That’s what is so unique about the impact Philadelphia sports fans have on these athletes. That was an underdog group. That was a blue-collar group and Philadelphia sports fans saw so much of themselves in those players, perhaps in none of them more so than Utley.
He came to work everyday, never complained, gave it 100 percent through the good and bad and was always team first. That is Philadelphia and this city loved it.
What further tied Utley to this town is that while being a hard worker and a class-act, he had a certain edge to him like so many people that grow up here. He referenced the moment that defined that edginess when he wrote in his thank you letter, “WFC forever!”
The subtle homage to his famous “World (Expletive) Champions!” quote was a perfect way to sum up the letter. That was a moment when he said what so many fans in this city wanted to say (and probably did).
Chase Utley had a strong impact on the fans in this city and the fans in this city had a very strong impact on him.
Check out other stories about Philadelphia fans in CBS Philly’s FANtastic Philly series.
The Sports Beyond Measure Podcast is a weekly sports podcast that delivers a fun perspective on the latest headlines in national sports, Philadelphia professional sports and community-based sports. The series is hosted by 94 WIP’s Vince Quinn, Ray Boyd and Eric “Turtle” Golden. You can download/subscribe for free on iTunes.