10/31/08 9:13 PM EST
Phillies 'amazed' by scene at parade
Free-agent-to-be Burrell leads spirited ride down Broad Street
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
With hair slicked back and dressed in jeans, black shoes, a black coat and sunglasses, Burrell appeared as cool as his on-field persona.Except for his constant state of smile. "We did it! We finally did it, didn't we?" Burrell told an appreciative Citizens Bank Park crowd. "None of this would have been possible without you guys, and I want to thank you guys so much for the support over the years. You made this whole thing possible. I think you guys know how important this was for me, being here as long as I have." Fans who lined the streets chanted "Stay, Pat, Stay!", "Re-Sign Pat!" and "Pat the Bat!" every chance they got. Up front and up high next to the reins, he must have stood up to acknowledge the crowd at least 200 times during the four-mile parade route that took nearly 3 1/2 hours to complete. Symbolically, Burrell's appearance at the front of the processional meant plenty to Burrell, the team's longest-tenured player. He arrived during the 2000 season. "I'm sure he was elated by the way the Phillies, the way the city handled everything," starter Brett Myers said. "That was unbelievable. [But he was up front] because of his dog. Somebody said he was going to ride with Elvis because he was at every home game, and we didn't lose at home in the playoffs. A lot of credit goes to Elvis for slobbering on us. He was our good-luck charm." While it's possible that Burrell has played his final game as with the Phillies -- meaning the free-agent-to-be's last hit was a seventh-inning double that set up the winning run in Game 5 -- Burrell didn't speak after the celebration, leaving Friday to be about the party. And it was quite a party, from the moment Burrell's carriage rolled from City Hall. "The greatest thing I ever seen in my life, and I'll always remember it," said manager Charlie Manuel, who was dressed in a navy blue, pinstripe suit. Earlier, he hoisted the World Series trophy, and later he waved to fans from one of the team's eight flatbed trucks. The city's first sports title parade in 25 years -- 28 years for the Phillies -- was a constant wall of sound. Harry Kalas' call of the final out could be heard throughout, as well as Queen's "We Are the Champions," Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom," and Bobby Burnett's "Goin' Back to Philadelphia, PA." People were everywhere, in windows, trees and rooftops, and no one got tired of yelling, screaming or waving. Center fielder Shane Victorino tossed soft pretzels to the crowd while shortstop Jimmy Rollins turned his hand-held video camera on the crowd. "I was amazed," Rollins said. "There were people on [Route] 76 just hanging out, I'm like, 'This is dangerous.' People acting like Spider-Man climbing on light pole. I saw a guy stretched on the side of the building, with a beer in his hand. They've been wanting this for a long time. You know when your ears start hurting because you're trying to think about what to do, but you can't think because you're ears hurt? That's what it was like. I wasn't even yelling, I was just barely talking [to teammates on the float] and my voice is gone." When his voice got hoarse, Rollins' mother, Gigi Rollins, suggested simply waving, but Rollins said his "shoulders were tired. It was great. It was an ocean of people and there was never a dull moment. People just kept giving you energy, so you couldn't stop smiling and you couldn't stop waving." Rollins didn't and neither did any of his teammates. World Series MVP Cole Hamels tried to fist-bump a fan dressed like Philly's favorite fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa, but authorities intervened before they finished. Victorino enjoyed "encouraging" fans to climb poles. The surging crowds flooded the streets at some points, leaving barely enough room for trucks and their police escorts. "Everybody is celebrating for the right cause and that's good that a city can do that together," said veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer, who attended the 1980 World Series parade as a fan. "This time, I took it all in. Seeing this parade from start to finish brought tears to my eyes."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.