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Over the years, fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been called a great number of things, and while the descriptors have always been colorful, they haven't always been accurate. To say that they're "crazy" undermines how passionate they really are. To say that they're "uncompromising" downplays their commitment. They are, however, "relentless." There's no arguing that one. Put simply, supporters of the Phightins have high hopes. While some decades have been better than others, the Philly Phaithful are unflappable. That's what happens when you're the oldest, longest-running ball club in the business.
Just as their hometown is forever tied to the birth of the nation, the roots of professional baseball in Philly stretch all the way to the beginning of the sport. Established in 1883, the organization was one of the first to play in the National League. While the franchise wouldn't reach the World Series until 1915, the club was wildly competitive in the 1800s; it seemed poised for greatness when 1900 rolled around, but the advent of the American League robbed the team of many of its best players. Between 1917 and 1949, they would finish in the upper tier of the division just once. Entering into the 1950 season, things began to change in the City of Brotherly Love. A pack of wily youngsters were about to take the area by storm and breathe new life into Philadelphia.
Known collectively as the "Whiz Kids," players such as Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn spearheaded a charge that led to the Phillies playing in the Fall Classic for the first time in 35 years. Their title hopes would be dashed, but Roberts and Ashburn would both go on to have storied, successful careers with Philadelphia and eventually find themselves in the Hall of Fame. While the "Whiz Kids" would alleviate some of the suffering, it wouldn't be until the 1970s that the Phils would set a course for prominence.
The renowned Veterans Stadium opened its doors in 1971, and the following year, titans Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt would make their debut with the club. By 1978, postseason baseball in Philadelphia was becoming a regular occurrence. That year also saw the arrival of arguably the most famous individual to ever don a Phillies uniform, the Phillie Phanatic. The emergence of these three fan favorites would culminate in 1980 when the team won its first World Series, a championship 97 years in the making.
Fast forward to 2004, and the story is remarkably similar. The team moves into a new stadium (Citizens Bank Park), is gifted with once-in-a-generation athletes (Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley), and eventually takes home the title (2008). Beyond that, Phillies baseball is the same as it ever was. The team still plays on Broad Street, everyone and their mother sells soft pretzels before games, the Phanatic is the biggest star on the field, and Phillies fans talk about all the years where they coulda, shoulda, woulda won.