On a night where Charlie Manuel claimed he felt like a “mosquito in a nudist colony”, myself and colleague Pat Gallen enjoyed a fine spread, a tribute to Smokin’ Joe, and a celebration of Philadelphia athletics at the 108st Annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association (PSWA) Awards .
The Phillies earned three awards, with Ruben Amaro Jr. accepting the award for Best Team on behalf of the Fightins, Manuel winning Coach of the Year (Men’s), and Hunter Pence winning the Good Guy award. Former Lehigh Valley Iron Pig Ryan Vogelsong won the Native Son award.
Vogelsong was one of the first guests honored and the Chester-area native confessed he’s still a Philadelphia sports fan. “I really consider myself a huge Philadelphia fan. I’m an Eagles fan, a Flyers fan, a Sixers fan, and don’t tell anyone but I still love the Phillies,” confined Vogelsong to a crowd composed of nearly entirely Philadelphia sports writers. Sorry Ryan, the secret is out. Vogelsong continued, “I wasn’t going to bring this up, but since Ruben, Charlie, Hunter, and I were talking about it, I’ll go ahead and throw them under the bus. I wouldn’t be up here right now if it wasn’t for Ruben. He released me in 2010.” Burn.
Amaro accepted the Team of the Year award about 40 minutes later, following an intense speech from Temple Football Head Coach Steve Adazzio. Ruben spoke for about 2 minutes and made it very clear: World Series or bust in 2012. Amaro saluted the team, the fans, and his colleagues at the Phillies before proclaiming “We’re gonna do our damndest to bring a World Series back to Philadelphia.”
The highlight of my night was Citizen Bank Park’s own Dan Baker introducing Charlie Manuel who wasted no time breaking the ice: “Thank you Dan. I feel like a, uh… mosquiter (mosquito) in er… nudist camp.” (Click here for exclusive audio: Charlie Manuel – Mosquito in a Nudist Camp) I’m not sure what Charlie meant, but he was visibly humbled by the praise Baker heaped on him during his introduction. Manual’s acceptance speech for receiving Coach of the Year was also humble, praising his players and the fans for putting him in positions to succeed. “It’s something a lot of people had something to do with. My organization, my players… I am humble, I’m grateful, I am very happy about the award I received here tonight. It all shows great team effort… we have some of the best players in baseball,” remarked Manuel. Manuel thanked Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, Amaro, and others for his shot in Philadelphia. Like Amaro, Manuel wrapped up his speech with his eyes on the prize: “Our goal will always be the same. The first speech that I always give about the season is about us going to the World Series, that’s our ultimate goal.”
Hunter Pence was the last athlete to receive an award for the night and came equipped with some solid material. Pence began his acceptance speech by postulating as to why he was selected: “I try to think about why I won the ‘Good Guy’ award and it’s definitely not for what I did with the team, it’s what I did with my solo actions.” Pence, continuing to be tongue in cheek, listed some of his finer solo accomplishments in Philadelphia, including: getting a champagne shower, fighting in San Francisco, and taking his shirt off at a charity event. “I definitely learned a lot about Philadlephia – you have good humor, thank you sports writers for voting me for this. I’ve had a lot of fun, did a lot of crazy things,” continued Pence. Pence wrapped up by again referencing the San Francisco fight, this time playfully with Vogelsong, “I know you’re from Philadelphia and you think you’re Rocky, but you didn’t have to give me those one-two’s in that fight out there. Charlie’s proud of you but I’m still hurting. Well, that was a lot of fun actually, it was just a lot of hugging.”
On behalf of myself and my colleague, PSWA member, Pat Gallen, we thank the PSWA for having us and we hope to see a lot of hugging this October when Ruben, Charlie, HP3, and our guys bring home another World Series crown.