06/20/11 10:00 AM ET
Phillies fan connects other fans with his site
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
All in the name of the Phillies.
The 30-year-old Philadelphia fan is the founding father of PhilliesNation.com, created in 2004 when he moved to Washington D.C. and yearned for the hometown coverage of his childhood team.
In the seven years since, it has turned into a multi-tasking production that not only keeps fans up to speed on the happenings with the ballclub, but also organizes trips to see the Phillies play in other cities, game-watching parties and other philanthropy events.
"It started, really, because I moved away from Philly and we kind of take it for granted living there, that you can turn on the TV and watch the game and read about it in the newspaper," Michael said. "I realized that other fans could enjoy it in other places, too."
So, Michael -- who grew up in northeast Philadelphia, attended University of Pennsylvania for undergrad and now does web consulting and digital communication for political campaigns in Washington D.C. -- started the site to keep fans everywhere informed. And as the Phillies began to succeed over the last decade, so did Michael's venture.
Now, he works with as many as 10 other people to help run the site and coordinate events. With Michael's help, the presence of Phillies fans at parks around the country has drawn the attention of the national media, the fans and the coaches and players.
"We started coming down to D.C. in 2005, the first year the Nationals were in D.C.," Michael said. "We had a small bus of probably 30-35 people and then, last year, Opening Day, we had almost 600 people on the trip. As a fan, it makes it easier certainly because this kind of stuff you might be doing with your friends and family, anyway. It just so happens now you're with 500 of your friends."
In addition to the trips, Michael has helped to organize charity fundraisers, game-watching parties at Phillies bars across the country.
"You appreciate it more once you're outside of Philly and not everyone who walks down the street is a Phillies fan," Michael said. "You get that extra sense of community."
Michael said one accomplishment he's most proud of is the effort people affiliated with Phillies Nation have made to reach out to members of the military overseas. He said he'll hear from word of mouth or the group's Facebook page that a member of the armed forces is stationed across the globe and people in the community will chip in to put together care packages.
"A lot of the troops will take pictures and send them back to us," Michael said. "Readers and Phillies fans get excited because they're contributing to it, too."
Michael said it's been more rewarding than he ever would have imagined seven years ago. Now, he feels like he's truly brought people together.
"On a Mets bus trip two years ago, we had one of our writers who is also a beer man at [Citizens Bank Park] on the trip and he met his future wife," Michael recounted. "And about a year and a half later, at one of our game-watching parties, he proposed to her. They're getting married this year. It's a little Phillies Nation romance.
"There are tons of stories like that -- it's just kind of fans doing good stuff, giving Phillies fans a good name. Coming together for the Phillies."