Phils fans turn out for Rally Monday
Many flock to city hall to cheer on NL East champs
PHILADELPHIA -- People were already filing in to help cheer the Phillies' National League East division title, and their first playoff appearance since 1993, 45 minutes before Rally Monday officially began at noon ET outside City Hall.
Thousands of adoring Phillies fans began screaming in unison, "Let's go, Phillies! Let's go, Phillies!" Every time a fan walked by wearing a Jimmy Rollins shirt or jersey, chants of "MVP! MVP!" began to roll out.
It was quite a scene and that was just the beginning of what turned out to be one huge celebration.
Fans watched Phillies highlights on a large video screen leading up to the rally and went wild with every Rollins home run, Brett Myers strikeout and Harry Kalas call. When director of public affairs Scott Palmer walked on stage to begin the program, it was hard to hear him because of the excitement of the throng of fired-up Phillies fans.
"What a great day, absolutely great," said Joanne Johnson of South Philadelphia. "This team has been fighting all season and we finally got it done. These people have been waiting for this. Look at this excitement. It makes all the waiting worth it."
Paul Staurakos has been a Phillies season ticket-holder since 1977 and there was no way he was missing this rally.
"It was an exciting and tense game against the Nationals and it was hard to watch all nine innings until we broke it open," said Staurakos, who brought his grandson Sam, 3, and granddaughter Lydia, 2. "It does my heart good to see the Phillies have this type of success. I wanted to come out to this in support of the Phillies. They've done it all year with a young pitching staff."
Rally Monday was instituted in '04 and has grown into an annual happening in the cities where postseason games will be played. Each participating club that is playoff-bound, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, has prepared an entertainment slate that is free of charge and typically includes live music, playoff ticket giveaways, local vendors and celebrity appearances. Rally Monday also gives local and national business partners a chance to capitalize on the excitement of each club's advancement into the postseason, engaging fans in a celebration setting.
What a celebration it was.
Mr. Greengenes, a local band, got the crowd excited with popular songs such as "It's A Beautiful Day" and "We Will Rock You." The Phillie Phanatic even helped out on the electric guitar.
From there, Philadelphia Mayor John Street was introduced, followed by Phillies president David Montgomery and general manager Pat Gillick, among others.
Then it was manager Charlie Manuel and the players who walked on stage one by one.
Loud roars were heard, especially for second baseman Chase Utley, first baseman Ryan Howard and pitcher Jamie Moyer. As Rollins strolled on stage, the roars became deafening.
"He's the MVP, no doubt," said Jimmy Goshen, a Phillies fan since 1970. "He made the statement about being the team to beat and he was right. He backed it up with his play. It's not just his hitting, it's his defense. He does it all. He came up big-time all season."
Rollins addressed the crowd by bellowing, "This is party No. 1. We're working on party No. 2 [and] party No. 3, a parade down Broad Street."
As part of the Rally Monday party, prizes were awarded to fans, including playoff tickets, game-used bases and baseballs, as well as rally towels. The fans were waving the rally towels just like they were at Citizens Bank Park.
There were also at least 10 signs reading, "You Gotta Believe!"
Fans holding those signs ranged in age from 3 to 75.
"I'm 61, my daughter is 30 and my granddaughter is 3 and we are all Phillies fans," said Maureen Markowitz of Philadelphia. "We believe. We pull for the Phillies like you wouldn't believe. We finally did it. We're not done yet. Jimmy Rollins is right, we're getting ready for the next party. Go Phillies!"
Phillies merchandise was selling quickly at Rally Monday. In fact, one woman purchased five shirts and five hats.
"I've got to get them for my whole family," said Lauren Moalts of Philadelphia. "My kids want Chase Utley and I want a Jimmy Rollins shirt. We're proud of our team and we want to show off the NL East division champs!"
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.