Sunday, April 30, 2017

Top 10 Athletes From Louisiana

April 30, 1812: Louisiana is admitted to the Union as the 18th State.

Top 10 Athletes from Louisiana

We think of Louisiana as a football State, but, so far, they've only produced 2 Heisman Trophy winners, and 1 Pro Football Hall-of-Famer -- and it wasn't either of the Heisman winners.

In contrast, they've got 4, nearly 5, of the NBA's official 50 Greatest Players. And that's not counting Bill Russell, who was born there, but not raised there; or Pete Maravich, who went to Louisiana State University, but didn't grow up in Louisiana.

They've also produced 2 Baseball Hall-of-Famers, and that's not counting Bill Dickey, who was born there but lived most of his life in neighboring Arkansas.

Honorable Mention to Karl Malone of Summerfield. He was a 14-time NBA All-Star, a 2-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and a 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist: On perhaps the greatest amateur team ever assembled, the 1984 U.S. team; and perhaps the greatest team ever assembled in any sport, the 1992 U.S. "Dream Team."

His Number 32 was retired by Louisiana Tech and the Utah Jazz. Basketball Hall of Fame. He was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players. He has a statue outside the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City.

Honorable Mention to Ron Guidry of Lafayette, who helped the Yankees win the 1977 World Series, and without whose incredible season the Yankees would not have won it again in 1978.

Honorable Mention to Chad Gaudin of the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, who helped the Yankees win the 2009 World Series.

Honorable Mention to Doug Williams of Zachary. I don't know what's more miraculous: Getting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to within 9 points of a Super Bowl berth, losing the 1979 NFC Championship Game; or turning a 10-0 deficit into a 42-10 victory, with 5 touchdowns, including 4 touchdown passes, in a span of only 13 minutes, leading the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII in 1988. He was the 1st black quarterback to win an NFL Championship.

Honorable Mention to Joe Dumars of Natichitoches. The franchise now known as the Detroit Pistons hasn't won a championship, in any league, without him being involved since 1945. He was the defensive leader of their 1989 and 1990 NBA Champions, winning the Finals MVP in 1989, and the general manager of their 2004 NBA Champions.

Honorable Mention to Joe Brown of Baton Rouge. The Lightweight Champion of the World from 1956 to 1962, he was named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year in 1961.

Honorable Mention to John David Crow of Springhill. The running back led Texas A&M to the 1956 Southwest Conference Championship. In 1957, he became the 1st player from the school to be awarded the Heisman Trophy, the only Heisman winner ever coached by Bear Bryant.

He played for the Cardinals, including during their 1960 move from Chicago to St. Louis. He was a 4-time Pro Bowler, and was named to the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team. He later returned to Texas A&M as their athletic director. He is in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Honorable Mention to Billy Cannon of Baton Rouge. The running back led Louisiana State University to the 1958 National Championship, and won the 1959 Heisman Trophy. He was the 1st-ever pick in the 1st-ever American Football League Draft. He justified that by helping the Houston Oilers win the 1960 and 1961 AFL Championships -- still the only time the Oilers/Titans franchise has gone as far as the rules of the time have allowed them to go.

He won another AFL Championship with the 1967 Oakland Raiders. His Number 20 was retired by LSU, and he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Like another 1960s sports hero, 1967 American League Cy Young Award winner Jim Lonborg of the Boston Red Sox, he became a dentist.

Unfortunately, like yet another 1960s sports hero, 1968 AL Most Valuable Player Denny McLain, he got involved in something he shouldn't have, and went to prison. Based on those 2 facts, upon his release, he was given a job as the head dentist for the State penal system, a job he still holds.

Honorable Mention to Marshall Faulk of New Orleans. A star at San Diego State University, he made 7 Pro Bowls, and was named the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1994 and Most Valuable Player in 2000. At the turn of the 21st Century, he was probably the NFL's best all-around player, helping the St. Louis Rams reach Super Bowls XXXIV (won) and XXXVI (lost).

He finished his career with 12,280 rushing yards and an even 100 rushing touchdowns; and 767 catches for 6,875 yards and 36 touchdowns. The Indianapolis Colts, with whom he started, named him to their Ring of Honor. San Diego State and the Rams both retired Number 28 for him. He was elected to both the College and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2010, the NFL Network listed him 70th on their list of the NFL's 100 Greatest Players.

Honorable Mention to Kevin Faulk of New Orleans. Marshall's cousin played at LSU, and rushed for a relatively modest 3,607 in his career, for the New England Patriots, but beat Marshall's Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He also was with them when they won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. The Patriots named him to their team Hall of Fame and their 50th Anniversary Team, as a kick return specialist.

But neither Crow, nor Cannon, nor either of the Faulks is the greatest running back from Louisiana.

10. Bob Pettit of Baton Rouge. He was an 11-time NBA All-Star, a 2-time NBA MVP, and the 1st NBA player to score 20,000 points. (This wouldn't be a big deal today. It was a huge deal then, in 1965.) He won the 1958 NBA Championship with the St. Louis Hawks. After they moved to Atlanta, they retired his Number 9. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

9. Robert Parish of Shreveport. He was a 9-time NBA All-Star, and while he never won an MVP, the Boston Celtics would not have won the 1981, 1984 and 1986 NBA Championships without him. He won another title as a backup on the 1997 Chicago Bulls -- making him the only man to win the NBA with both Boston and Chicago.

He played in more games than anyone in NBA history, and was long believed to be the league's oldest player ever before someone rediscovered an older one in the league's early days. The Celtics retired his Number 00, and he was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

8. Steve Van Buren of New Orleans. He was born in the Central American nation of Honduras, to an American father and a native mother, but was orphaned at age 10, and sent to live with his father's family in New Orleans.

Bernie Moore, the coach who brought him to LSU, said, "He was probably the greatest running back in Southeastern Conference history." The SEC has since seen Cannon, Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Emmitt Smith, Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry. But Van Buren may have been the best through the 1944 Orange Bowl, in which he led LSU to a 19-14 win over Texas A&M, responsible for all the Tigers' points: He ran for 2 touchdowns, threw for 1, and kicked an extra point.

"Moving Van" then starred for the Philadelphia Eagles, making 6 Pro Bowls, and getting them to 3 straight NFL Championship Games, as the best running back in the NFL, and as a deadly tackler as a defensive back.

They lost to the Chicago Cardinals in 1947. Then "Supersonic Steve" braved the elements. The day of the 1948 Championship Game, 10 inches of snow fell on Philadelphia, and he almost didn't get to Shibe Park. Somehow, he got through the snow outside, and the snow inside, scoring the game's only touchdown to get the Eagles their 1st World Championship. In 1949, the weather struck again. A rare Southern California rainstorm hit the Los Angeles Coliseum, but he led the Eagles to victory over the Rams. To put it another way: In those 2 seasons, the Eagles won 2 titles; it would take them another 69 years to win another 2.

Injuries forced him to retire after playing his last game in 1951, with 5,860 rushing yards and 69 rushing touchdowns, both records at the time. He was the 1st Eagles player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1965 -- making him the 1st Hispanic player elected to any of the "big four" sports' Halls. He was named to the NFL's 1940s All-Decade and 75th Anniversary Team. The Eagles retired his Number 15, and named him to their Hall of Fame and their 75th Anniversary Team.

In 1999, he came in 77th on The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Football Players. Somehow, by 2010, he had grown in the estimation of football historians, because the NFL Network raised his ranking to 58th.

7. Elvin Hayes of Rayville. The Big E reached the 1968 NCAA Final Four with the University of Houston. He was a 12-time NBA All-Star, and helped the Washington Bullets, the team now known as the Washington Wizards, reach the NBA Finals 3 times, winning the 1978 NBA Championship.

His Number 44 was retired by UH, and his Number 11 retired by the Wizards. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

6. Eli Manning of New Orleans. Since he immediately followed his brother Peyton, the comparison to their father Archie wasn't nearly as prominent, so he could go to Archie's alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and just play ball.

He did all right there, and was named Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2003. With the New York Giants, he's a 4-time Pro Bowler, and not only led them to 2 Super Bowl wins, both upsets of the cheating New England Patriots, but was named the MVP of both games. He is the greatest quarterback New York City has ever had. Don't tell me that Phil Simms was better. Don't tell me that Joe Namath's 1 Super Bowl was more important; even if that's true, that doesn't make him better.

Eli will easily get his Number 10 retired by the Giants, and, barring doing something massively stupid, will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And yet, he still doesn't make the Top 5. He's not even Number 1 within his own family.

5. Mel Ott of the New Orleans suburb of Gretna. The 1st great slugger in the National League in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era, he was the NL's all-time home run leader from 1937 until 1966, finishing his career with 511. Until 2001, he was the NL's all-time leader among lefthanded hitters. Due to the short right-field fence at the Polo Grounds, he hit 323, or 63 percent of his total, at home. This also means that he has more home runs hit in New York City than any other player – ahead of Mickey Mantle with 270 and Babe Ruth with 266.

He missed the 1st All-Star Game in 1933, but then making every one through 1944, for a total of 11. His lifetime batting average was .304, and he had 9 100-RBI seasons. He helped the New York Giants win 3 Pennants, and his home run won the clinching game of the 1933 World Series. The Giants retired his Number 4, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 1999 was named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players.

4. Lou Brock of Collinston, which isn't far from Hayes' hometown of Rayville. He led Southern University to the 1959 NAIA Championship (national championship for small schools). Based on this, and on his major league achievements, he was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

An 8-time MLB All-Star, he collected over 3,000 hits, and set records (which still stand, at least within the National League) for stolen bases in a season and a career. He led the St. Louis Cardinals to the 1964 (won), 1967 (won) and 1968 (lost) World Series. In 1967, he won the Babe Ruth Award, 1 of the 2 awards given to the Most Valuable Player of the World Series. (Bob Gibson got the better-known award, the Sport Magazine Award.)

The Cardinals retired his Number 20. He was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame and The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players, ranked 58th.

3. Peyton Manning of New Orleans. Putting aside the return of an allegation made against him in college, which, if true, would make him even less moral than his rival Tom Brady... So much has been made of the games Peyton has lost that we forget just what he has won.

He starred at the University of Tennessee, not winning the Heisman Trophy or the National Championship, but winning the 1997 Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. He is a 14-time Pro Bowler, a 5-time NFL MVP, and the 2013 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

No quarterback has won more games, or thrown for more yards in a season or in a career, or has thrown more touchdown passes in a season or in a career. He went to 4 Super Bowls, and is 1 of only 2 quarterbacks to lead 2 different teams to an NFL Championship: The 2006 Indianapolis Colts (and he was named the Super Bowl XLI MVP) and the 2015 Denver Broncos. (The other is Norm Van Brocklin of the 1951 Los Angeles Rams and the 1960 Philadelphia Eagles.)

His Number 18 has been retired by the Colts. He was only in his 2nd season when The Sporting News named their 100 Greatest Football Players in 1999, but was named to the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team. Barring an epic calamity, he will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021. He was ranked 8th on the NFL Network's 100 Greatest Players in 2010.

And yet, he still doesn't make the top 2. Maybe if Brady hadn't been a part of so much cheating...

2. Willis Reed of Bernice, which isn't far from Malone's hometown of Summerfield. May 8, 1970. That alone made him a legend. But that wasn't all he did. He was a 7-time NBA All-Star, captained the Knicks to the 1970 and 1973 NBA Championships, was named the Finals MVP both times, and remains the team's all-time greatest center. (Do I have to remind you that, while Patrick Ewing predicted titles, Willis actually won them?)

His Number 19 was the 1st retired by a New York basketball team, and he was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players.

1. Terry Bradshaw of Shreveport. The "dummy" put up a very smart legacy. He was named to 3 Pro Bowls, and was NFL MVP in 1978. He shared Sports Illustrated's 1979 Sportsman of the Year award with another Pittsburgh icon who won a World Championship that year, Willie Stargell.
He got the Pittsburgh Steelers into 4 Super Bowls, won them all, and was named MVP in 2 of them. The Steelers don't retire numbers, but his Number 12 has never been given back out. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Football Players (44th), and the NFL Network's 100 Greatest Players (50th).

How Long It's Been: Tottenham Finished Ahead of Arsenal

Today, Tottenham Hotspur defeated Arsenal 2-0, in the last "North London Derby" to be played at the old White Hart Lane, which "Spurs" have called home since 1899.

Next season, they'll play all their home games at the new Wembley Stadium, while The Lane is demolished, so that their new stadium, just to the north, can be completed.

This win means that they are mathematically guaranteed of finishing ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League.

Because of their origin as a "works side" (in America, we would say "company team," as were the origins of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers) at the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, Arsenal have a cannon on their badge. Thus, the team is nicknamed the Gunners. As a result of this, their fans are called Gooners.

Tottenham Hotspur, or Spurs for short, frequently has their fans called Spuds by Gooners. I don't see the connection, except that potatoes grow underground where there's no light, and Spurs fans don't seem to see the light. As in...

Q: How many Tottenham fans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It doesn't mater: They'll still be in the dark.

When Arsenal are assured of finishing ahead of Tottenham in the League table (standings), Gooners celebrate it as "St. Totteringham's Day." When the 2015-16 season came to an end, Arsenal had finished above Tottenham for 21 consecutive seasons.

It's a very nasty rivalry, but when you can't finish better than the team you hate the most for twenty years, that's not much of a rivalry, is it?

In that time, Tottenham have had some good seasons. In 2010 and 2012, they finished 4th; both times, Arsenal finished 3rd. In 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013, they finished 5th; each of those times, Arsenal finished 4th. Just last season, Spurs finished 3rd, but a late choke (2-1 to 2-2) at home, and a 5-1 loss to already-relegated Newcastle on the last day of the season meant that Arsenal finished 2nd, just above them.

Spurs have had some good cup runs. In 1999 and 2008, they won the League Cup (beating Arsenal in the Semifinal in 2008); in 2002, 2009 and this season, they reached its Final; in 2007, its Semifinal (losing to Arsenal). They reached the Semifinal of the FA Cup in 1999, 2001 (losing to Arsenal), 2010, 2012 and this year; they reached the Quarterfinal in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

Their 4th place finish in 2010 qualified them for the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League, only their 2nd time in the tournament originally known as the European Cup, and they advanced to the Quarterfinals; their 4th place finish in 2012 did not qualify them for such, because another London team, Chelsea, who'd finished 6th, won the tournament and took England's 4th spot.

They qualified again for this season (and have, again, for next season), but finished dead last in their group, and washed out of the UEFA Cup/Europa League. (The name change happened in 2010.) They reached the Quarterfinal of that tournament in 2007 and 2013, they reached the Quarterfinal of the UEFA Cup/Europa League.

And they've had some big wins over Arsenal, in individual games. But, for 21 years, they never finished ahead of Arsenal.

To make matters worse, in 2004, they came from 2-0 to forge a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at their home ground, White Hart Lane -- but that was enough for Arsenal to clinch the League title. For the 2nd time, Arsenal won the League at White Hart Lane. The first time was in 1971. In other words, Tottenham have won the League exactly twice, in 1951 and 1961, and clinched at White Hart Lane both times, and yet Arsenal have won the League there exactly as many times as Tottenham have.

Now, they have done it. It is the 1st time it's happened since the 1995 season. That's 22 years. How long has that been?


Tottenham finished 7th in 1994-95, while Arsenal finished 12th. Despite the high finish (by their standards), it was a rough time for Spurs.

Indeed, they shouldn't have finished ahead of Arsenal: Due to financial irregularities by previous owners, they were fined £600,000, deducted 12 points, and banned from the 1994-95 FA Cup. New owner Alan Sugar -- computer mogul, and producer and star of the original British version of Donald Trump's The Apprentice -- challenged the sanctions in court. Although the fine was increased to £1.5 million, the deduction and cup ban were rescinded.

Tottenham replaced former star Ossie Ardiles as manager with Gerry Francis, a former star at another London club, Queens Park Rangers. He's now 65, and hasn't managed in 16 years. Tottenham's leading scorer was Jurgen Klinsmann, one of the heroes of West Germany's 1990 World Cup win. Naturally, Germany's biggest club, Bayern Munich swooped in, and bought him, leaving Spurs without their best player. (He's since failed as the manager of the American national team.) They also ended up having to sell Romanian star Gheorghe Popescu.

It was a rough time for Arsenal as well. Their manager was Stewart Houston, who was serving as caretaker manager following the firing of George Graham, who'd been caught having accepted a large financial gift as a result of a player's transfer. They also had to deal with the injuries and drug rehab of Paul Merson, and the injury-forced retirement of striker Alan Smith. Paul Davis would also retire, and Kevin Campbell would be sold, as the team that won the League in 1989 and 1991, both the FA Cup and the League Cup in 1993, and the European Cup Winnners' Cup in 1994..

Somehow, the holders reached the Final of that tournament again, losing to Spanish club Real Zaragoza, on a late extra time goal by Turkish player Mohammed Alí Amar, a.k.a. Nayim. Nayim had previously played for Tottenham, and, to this day, Spurs fans still sing his name, even though the goal and the game had absolutely nothing to do with Spurs. When a former Arsenal player does something to beat Tottenham, Arsenal fans get excited and laugh, but they quickly move on. This shows you how stupid Tottenham fans tend to be.

Bruce Rioch would manage Arsenal the next season, and then Arsène Wenger would come in, and he's still there, having finished above Tottenham every season he's managed in England until now, while Tottenham have gone through manager after manager after manager, and failed. Mauricio Pochettino is in charge now; in 1995, the Argentine was 23 and playing centreback for Espanyol, "the other club in Barcelona."

In the 1994-95 season, the League was won by Blackburn Rovers, by 1 point over Manchester United. Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was their manager, their leading scorer was future Newcastle United and BBC Match of the Day star Alan Shearer, and their Captain was Tim Sherwood -- future Tottenham manager, manager of Birmingham side Aston Villa when they lost the 2015 FA Cup Final to Arsenal (there was a conundrum for Spurs fans: Rooting for Arsenal, or for a manager they believed wasn't good enough for their club.), getting them relegated in 2016, and now serving as director of football for Wiltshire club Swindon Town, whom he's also gotten relegated, to the 4th division.

Blackburn, Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Wimbledon, Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City, Norwich City and Ipswich Town were all in the top flight. Now, none of them are -- and Wimbledon aren't even in Wimbledon anymore, having moved to become Milton Keynes Dons, while a new AFC Wimbledon have been formed.

This was the last season of 22 teams in the top flight; ever since, it's been 20. Of the 22 teams in the League that season, every one, in accordance with the Taylor Report in the wake of the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, has either modernized its stadium or built an entirely new one. Tottenham, now, is finally building the replacement for White Hart Lane.

Of the 1994-95 Premiership teams, Arsenal, Wimbledon/MK Dons, Southampton, Coventry, Manchester City and Leicester City have all built new stadiums; while West Ham United have left Upton Park and moved to the 2012 Olympic Stadium. Including the teams that are in this season's Premier League, add Hull City, Stoke City and Swansea City.

At the end of that season, Ted Drake died. He had been an Arsenal star in the 1930s, and in 1955 he became, until 2005, the only man ever to manage Chelsea to a League Championship. Such legends of the game as Stanley Matthews, Silvio Piola, Harry Andersson and Leônidas da Silva were still alive.

Everton won that season's FA Cup, and Ajax Amsterdam won the Champions League. Defending World Champions in the sports that most Americans would recognize were the San Francisco 49ers in football, the Houston Rockets in basketball, the New York Rangers in hockey (ugh, but they were about to be dethroned by the New Jersey Devils), and, since the 1994 MLB postseason had been canceled, the Toronto Blue Jays spent a 3rd straight offseason as reigning World Champions of baseball.

Boxing was already hopelessly messed up, and the "Heavyweight Champion of the World" was George Foreman according to the IBF, Riddick Bowe according to the WBO, Bruce Seldon according to the WBA, and Oliver McCall according to the WBC.

As the 1994-95 soccer season came to a close, Wenger was managing Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan, Jose Mourinho was assistant manager and translator for Bobby Robson at FC Porto, Pep Guardiola was playing for FC Barcelona and still had all his hair, and current England manager Gareth Southgate was playing for South London club Crystal Palace.

Major League Soccer was preparing to debut the next year, and the top North American league was known as the A-League, with the title won by a team now in MLS, the Montreal Impact. Current New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch was playing for Bob Bradley at Princeton University in New Jersey, and current New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira was about to turn 19, and playing at AS Cannes, and hardly anybody outside of France had yet heard of him -- but Wenger had. 

Francesco Totti was 18 and in his 2nd season at AS Roma, Gianliugi Buffon was 17 and in the youth setup at Parma, Andrea Pirlo was about to turn 16 and playing in Brescia's youth system, Steven Gerrard was about to turn 15 and playing in Liverpool's youth system, John Terry was 14 and playing in West Ham's youth system, Zlatan Ibrahimović was 13, Arjen Robben was 11, Cristiano Ronaldo was 10, Wayne Rooney and Manuel Neuer were 9, Olivier Giroud was 8, Lionel Messi was about to turn 8, Sergio Leonel "Kun" Agüero was about to turn 7, Mesut Özil was 6, Aaron Ramsey was 4, Neymar was 3, Harry Kane was about to turn 2, and Dele Alli wasn't born yet.

Joe Girardi was the catcher for the Colorado Rockies. Terry Collins was manager of the Houston Astros. Ben McAdoo was about to graduate from Indiana Area High School in Western Pennsylvania. Todd Bowles was a senior defensive back at Temple University. Jeff Hornacek was playing for the Utah Jazz. Kenny Atkinson was playing in Spain's basketball league. John Hynes was a sophomore hockey player at Boston University. Alain Vigneault was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators. And Doug Weight was playing for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Olympic Games have since been held in America twice, Canada, Britain, Japan, Australia, Greece, Italy, China and Russia. The World Cup has since been held in France, Japan, Korea, South Africa and Brazil.

The monarch of Great Britain was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed -- but the Prime Minister was John Major. Theresa May was a banking consultant, and had already run once, unsuccessfully, for a seat Parliament. The Mayor of London was Sir John Chalstrey. Sadiq Khan was a trainee solicitor -- or, as we would say in America, a junior partner at a law firm. The Prime Minister of Canada was Jean Chretien. Justin Trudeau was in graduate school at Montreal's McGill University.

The Pope was John Paul II. Jorge Mario Bergolio, the future Pope France, was Bishop of Oca in Spain. The holders of the Nobel Peace Prize were Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, for their work on the Gaza-Jericho First Accord -- which didn't work out very well.

The President of the United States was Bill Clinton. Former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, their wives, and the widow of Lyndon Johnson were still alive. George W. Bush had just begun "serving" as Governor of Texas. Barack Obama was teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Donald Trump was running casinos, not well, and married to his 2nd wife, and the idea of him ever being taken seriously as a candidate for political office was ridiculous.

The Governor of New York was George Pataki, and of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman. The Mayor of New York was Rudy Giuliani. Andrew Cuomo was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (he would be full Secretary of HUD in Clinton's 2nd term), Chris Christie was a Morris County Freeholder, and Bill de Blasio was working as an aide to Congressman Charles Rangel.

There were still living veterans of World War I, and the last survivors of the Spanish-American War and the Boer War had died only 2 years earlier. Four Justices then on the Supreme Court of the United States are still on it now: Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Major novels of 1995 included The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, Independence Day by Richard Ford, The Rainmaker by John Grisham, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt. Timothy Findley published a novel titled The Piano Man's Daughter. It was not about Alexa Ray Joel. None of the Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, Robert Langdon, Lisbeth Salander, Twilight or Hunger Games novels had yet been published.

Nick Hornby, the Arsenal fan who made Arsenal fandom cool for the first time since the early 1970s with Fever Pitch, published High Fidelity. Frank McCourt published Angela's Ashes. Memoirs were published by Nelson Mandela (Long Walk to Freedom) and Leonard Nimoy (I Am Spock -- a sequel to his controversial 1975 memoir I Am Not Spock).

Major movies released in the Spring of 1995 included Outbreak, Bad Boys, The Basketball Diaries, While You Were Sleeping, Friday, New Jersey Drive (about carjacking, not the Devils' drive for the Stanley Cup), Crimson Tide, Die Hard with a Vengeance, the faux-historical Scottish films Rob Roy and Braveheart, the film version of The Bridges of Madison CountyBatman Forever, and The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain -- Gentlemen, start your Hugh Grant jokes.

Also premiering was The American President, starring 51-year-old Michael Douglas, playing a widowed President dating an environmental activist played by 37-year-old Annette Bening, who was married to 58-year-old Warren Beatty. Douglas was not yet married to Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was then 25 and starring in Catherine the Great. Not an autobiography.

Television shows that were about to air their final first-run episodes were Empty NestBlossomFull HouseMatlock and Northern Exposure. Newly-debuted were NewsRadioSliders and the entire WB and UPN networks (eventually to merge), including Star Trek: Voyager. Soon to debut were Ned & Stacey (the 1st series to star Debra Messing), Caroline in the CityJAGMADtvThe Drew Carey Show, and a show only slightly more cartoonish than that one, Pinky and the Brain.

Dean Cain was playing Superman on TV, Val Kilmer had been cast as Batman in a movie, Lynda Carter was still the last live-action Wonder Woman, Pierce Brosnan was about to debut as James Bond, and Sylvester McCoy was still the last Doctor Who.

No one had yet heard of Ash Ketchum, Austin Powers, Carrie Bradshaw, Tony Soprano, Jed Bartlet, Master Chief, Jack Bauer, Omar Little, Rick Grimes, Wynonna Earp, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Michael Bluth, Michael Scott, Don Draper, Walter White, Jax Teller, Richard Castle, Leslie Knope or Sarah Manning.

The Number 1 song in America was "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan. Frank Sinatra had performed his last concert the preceding February. The surviving members of the Beatles were finishing The Beatles Anthology. Michael Jackson released HIStory, and he and Lisa Marie Presley began to split up. Tupac Shakur got married in prison. (He was doing time for rape. The marriage didn't last, and not because he was shot and killed on the outside.)

Selena was shot and killed. Former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was nearly stabbed after a concert in the Detroit area, with security guards getting hurt in the process. Hanson and Sugar Ray released their debut albums.

Most people had never heard of Osama bin Laden or Vladimir Putin, Simon Cowell or Katie Price. Princess Diana was still alive, and Prince William was turning 13. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada were about to make their major league debuts, Tom Brady was about to graduate high school, LeBron James was 10, and Sidney Crosby was 7.

Kourtney Kardashian and Pink were 16. Michelle Williams (both of them), Ben Savage, Kim Kardahsian, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland, Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba were 14. Natalie Portman, Chris Evans, Beyonce Knowles, Britney Spears, Sienna Miller, Kate Middleton, Natalie Dormer, Hayley Atwell and Kirsten Dunst were 13. Matt Smith and Anne Hathaway were 12. Prince Harry and Khloe Kardashian were 10.

Lady Gaga was 9; Richard Madden, Drake, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie and Rob Kardashian Jr. were 8; Kevin Jonas and Rihanna were 7; Emma Stone was 6; Daniel Radcliffe, Joe Jonas and Emma Watson were 5; Sarah Hyland was 4, and the rest of the Modern Family kids had not yet been born; Louis Tomlinson was 3; Jack Gleeson, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Zayn Malik were 2; Ariana Grande, Liam Payne and Niall Horan was a year and a half; Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were 1 (Bieber had just had his 1st, so he wasn't a "Boyfriend," he was a "Baby"); and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Sophie Turner, Abigal Breslin, Maisie Williams and Dean-Charles Chapman had not yet been born.

Inflation was such that, what $1.00 bought then, $1.61 would buy now. Or, more to the point of the country in question, what £1.00 bought then, £1.83 would buy now. A U.S. postage stamp was 32 cents. A New York Subway token was $1.25. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.20, a cup of coffee $1.74, a McDonald's meal $5.29, a movie ticket $4.35, a new car $17,900, and a new house $158,900. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that day at 4,436.43.

The Internet was still new to most of us. Most of us had never heard of Microsoft or America Online. The Netscape IPO, often considered the dawn of the Internet Age, was a few weeks away. There was no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Instagram and no Pinterest. VHS videotapes were still the dominant way of recording and playing back movies and TV shows. Mobile phones were still roughly the size of the communicators on Star Trek. The original Sony PlayStation was the leading home video game system of the time. There were birth control pills, but no Viagra.

In the Spring of 1995, the first Chechen War broke out. A gas explosion in the subway in Daegu, Korea killed 101 people, mostly schoolboys. The federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up, and the Unabomber struck for what turned out to be the last time. Christopher Reeve had his paralyzing horse-riding accident. The New Jersey Devils won their 1st Stanley Cup, and, on the exact same day, with President Nelson Mandela looking on, a racially-integrated South African team won the Rugby World Cup.

Harold Wilson, and Ginger Rogers, and Howard Cosell died. Gigi Hadid, and Missy Franklin, and Héctor Bellerín were born.

The Spring of 1995. Tottenham finished ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League. It has finally happened again, after 22 years.

Twenty years. If I were a Tottenham fan, I would celebrate the achievement, but I would find the fact that it took so long to be monumentally embarrassing.

But then, being a Tottenham fan is, all by itself, monumentally embarrassing.

Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly, Bronx Bombers Gotta Bomb

The Yankees started the season losing 4 of their 1st 5, and lots of Yankee Fans were ready to give up on the season. Some were ready to just plain give up, and jump off the George Washington Bridge.

Since then, the Yankees have won 14 out of 17, and are all alone in 1st place.

They were tied with the Baltimore Orioles going into yesterday's game with them. Now, in their last 16 innings with the Orioles, they've scored 26 runs.

Brett Gardner was the 1st Yankee batter against Oriole starter Ubaldo Jimenez, and he hit a home run, his 1st of the season. He hit another homer, part of a 4-run 2nd inning that essentially ended the game in the Yankees' favor.

Austin Romine hit one out off ex-Yankee Vidal Nuno in the 6th (his 2nd), and Aaron Judge hit yet another blast (his 10th, and they all seem to be long ones), 435 feet to right-center (the opposite field), off Jayson Aquino in the 7th.

As Oscar Hammerstein II would have said, "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, Bronx Bombers gotta bomb."

Or, as Kelis Rogers might say (if she were a Yankee Fan, which is possible, since she's from New York), "My Yankees hit the ball from the yard, they're my team, and they're better than yours. Damn right, they're better than yours. They could teach you, but they'd have to charge."

That should have been enough for Michael Pineda. Except Joe Girardi took him out in the top of the 6th, since he'd thrown 104 pitches -- 73 of them for strikes. He'd allowed 2 runs on 5 hits, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. Adam Warren was fine, pitching through the 8th with no runs, a hit and a walk. Tommy Layne allowed a home run in the 9th, but it was meaningless.

Yankees 12, Orioles 4. WP: Pineda (3-1). No save. LP: Jimenez (1-1).

The Yankees are now in 1st place by a full game over the O's, 3 1/2 (4 in the loss column) over the Boston Red Sox, 4 1/2 (6) over the Tampa Bay Rays, and 9 (10) over the hapless Toronto Blue Jays, who have the worst record in baseball, 7-17 -- while the Yankees have the best, 15-7. That's a pace for 110 wins.

Gee, maybe this is like 1998 after all. Maybe the Yankees should always lose 4 of their 1st 5.

The series concludes this afternoon at 1:05, with Jordan Montgomery pitching against Wade Miley. At the rate the Yankees are going, a sweep may be in order.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

How to Be a Red Bulls Fan In Philadelphia -- 2017 Edition

Tonight, the New York Red Bulls defeated the Chicago Fire, 2-1, despite a goal for Chicago assisted by their former Captain, Dax McCarty.

Next Saturday, the Red Bulls travel to Chester, Pennsylvania to play the Philadelphia Union, in a "derby." They will visit again on Sunday, June 18.

Before You Go. Philadelphia is just down the road, so it's in the Eastern Time Zone, and you don't have to worry about fiddling with various timepieces. And the weather will be almost identical to what you'd have on the same day in New York.

Still, check the combined website for the Philadelphia newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News, before you head out. For the moment, it looks like temperatures in Philly will be in the low 60s in daylight, and the high 40s at night when the game will be played. A 30 percent chance of rain is predicted for the day, although I don't know yet if that will be during the game. You might want to bring a light jacket.

Tickets. The Union averaged 17,519 fans per home game last season, about 95 percent of capacity. This is less of a problem for soccer than for other sports, as some seats are always set aside for away supporters. If you can't get them from the club website, you can probably find a Red Bulls fan group willing to transport you down the Turnpike and give you a ticket, probably for a combined cost less than what you'd pay if you'd bought the ticket on your own and taken the train down.

Away supporters are placed at the top of Section 133, in the stadium's southeast corner -- right across from the River End, where the various Philly supporters groups sit. There have been reports of trouble, which I'll get to later. Tickets are $33.

Getting There. It's 99 miles from Times Square in Manhattan to City Hall in Center City Philadelphia, and 105 miles from Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey to Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. This is close enough that a typical RBNY fan could leave his house, drive to the Arena parking lot, meet up with friends, head down to TES, watch a game, head back to RBA, pick up his car, and drive home, all within 10 hours. But it's also close enough that you could spend an entire day in Philadelphia, and, hopefully, you've already done this. Having done so many times myself, I can tell you that it's well worth it.

If you are driving only to the game -- rather than driving to Center City Philadelphia and spending some time seeing the touristy stuff -- you'll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike. Take Exit 2 to U.S. Route 322 West, and cross the Commodore Barry Bridge (named for John Barry, a naval hero of the American Revolution). The stadium is right over the bridge. Follow the signs. From anywhere in New York City, allow 3 hours for the actual drive, though from North Jersey you might need only 2½, and from Central Jersey 2 hours might suffice.

If you don't want to drive, there are other options, but the best one is the train. Philadelphia is too close to fly, just as flying from New York (from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark) to Boston, Baltimore and Washington, once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, doesn’t really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train.

And I strongly recommend not taking the bus. If you do, once you see Philadelphia's Greyhound terminal, at 10th & Filbert Streets in Center City, the nation's 2nd-busiest behind New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, you'll say to yourself, "I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for Port Authority!"

The Philly terminal is a disgrace. I don’t know how many people are in Atlantic City on an average Summer day, when both the beaches and the casinos are full (I'm guessing about half a million, or 1/3rd the size of Philly), but it has a permanent population of 40,000 people, compared to the 1.6 million of Philadelphia, and it has a bus station of roughly equal size and far greater cleanliness than Philly'.
If you do want to take Greyhound, it's about 2 hours and 10 minutes each way, and $28 round-trip (as little as $20 on advance purchase), and buses leave Port Authority just about every hour on the hour. But once you got to Philly, you'd have to walk across Filbert Street to Jefferson Station and take the SEPTA Wilmington Line to Chester. Round-trip fare is $10.

If you can afford Amtrak, and that will be $122 round-trip ($112 to 30th Street, $10 to Chester), it takes about an hour and a half to get from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan to the 30th Street Station at 30th & Market Streets, just across the Schuylkill River from Center City.

Unlike the dull post-1963 Penn Station, this building is an Art Deco masterpiece from 1933, and is the former corporate headquarters of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Ironically, it never had the official name "Pennsylvania Station" or "Penn Station." (If you can't afford Amtrak, or if you can but you'd rather save money, I'll get to what to do in a minute.)
The east front of 30th Street Station,
with the Cira Center in the background

Philly's commuter-rail and bus systems are run by SEPTA, the SouthEastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. You might recognize their "S" logo from the film Trading Places, and the bus that hits Tommy Morrison at the end of Rocky V. At 30th Street Station, transfer to the Wilmington/Newark Line. (That's NOO-ark, Delaware, not NOO-erk, New Jersey.) Take it to the Chester Transportation Center, where shuttle buses run to the stadium every 20 minutes.
The Chester Transportation Center
opened in 1903, the same year
as the similarly-designed station
in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

If you are going to spend time in Philadelphia proper, it and Toronto are the only 2 cities left on the North American continent, as far as I know, that still use tokens rather than farecards (or "MetroCards" as New York's MTA calls them) or tickets for their subways -- the orange-coded, north-to-south-running Broad Street Line (BSL) or the blue-coded, east-to-west-running Market Street Line (MFL). But this past February, they began an experiment with "KeyCards," and will probably phase the tokens out. An all-day KeyCard will allow up to 8 rides, for $9.00.

One ride on a SEPTA subway train is $2.50, cheaper than New York's, but they don't sell single tokens at booths. They come in packs of 2, 5 and 10, and these packs are damn hard to open. Two cost $4.00; five are $10.00, and a ten-pack costs $20.00. They are also available for bulk purchase.

If you don't want to take Amtrak, your other rail option is local. At Penn Station, you can buy a combined New Jersey Transit/SEPTA ticket to get to Center City Philadelphia. Take NJT's Northeast Corridor Line out of Penn Station to the Trenton Transit Center. This station recently completed a renovation that has already turned it from an absolute hole (it was so bad, it made Philly's bus station look like Grand Central) into a modern multimodal transport facility.

Because you'll need 3 trains (New York to Trenton, Trenton to Philadelphia, and Philadelphia to Chester), there will be a lot more stops than there are on Amtrak (especially the SEPTA part), it will take 3 hours and 40 minutes, but you'll spend $51.50 round-trip, only a little more than what you'd spend on a same-day purchase on Greyhound, and less than half of what you'd be likely to spend on Amtrak. Then, from there, switch to SEPTA.
Main waiting room of 30th Street Station.
You might recognize it from Trading Places.

SEPTA is now becoming the last major transit authority in America to phase out tokens, although the transition to KeyCards is still in progress. If you have tokens left over from your last visit, you should bring and use them.
Broad Street Line subway

Once In the City. Philadelphia is a Greek word meaning "brotherly love," a name given to it by its founder, William Penn, in 1683. So the city is nicknamed "The City of Brotherly Love."

The actions and words of its sports fans suggest that this is ridculous. Giants coach Bill Parcells was once caught on an NFL Films production, during a game with the Eagles at the Vet, saying to Lawrence Taylor, "You know, Lawrence, they call this 'the City of Brotherly Love,' but it's really a banana republic." And Emmitt Smith, who played for that other team Eagles fans love to hate, the Dallas Cowboys, also questioned the name: "They don't got no love for no brothers."

On a map, it might look like Penn Square, surrounding City Hall, is the centerpoint, but this is just geographic, and only half-refers to addresses. Market Street is the difference between the north-south numbering on the numbered Streets. But the Delaware River is the start for the east-west streets, with Front Street taking the place of 1st Street. Broad Street, which intersects with Market at City Hall/Penn Square, takes the place of 14th Street.
The William Penn statue atop City Hall

In the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, Philadelphia was the largest city in America, before being overtaken by New York. As recently as 1970, it had about 2 million people. But "white flight" after the 1964 North Philadelphia riot led to the population dropping to just over 1.5 million in 2000. It has inched back upward since then.

The metro area as a whole -- southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and most of Delaware -- is about 7.2 million, making it the 7th-largest in the country, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas.

The sales tax is 6 percent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Massachusetts, Virginia and Kentucky are also "commonwealths" in their official State names), 8 percent within the City of Philadelphia.

ZIP Codes in Philadelphia start with the digits 191. In the suburbs, it's 189, 190, 193 and 194. The Area Code for the city is 215, and the suburbs 610, with 267 overlaying both, and 445 being added in 2018.

Philadelphia is about 42 percent black, 36 percent white, 13 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent Asian. North, Northwest and West Philadelphia are now almost entirely black, although University City (home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University) and some of Southwest Philly remains white. South Philadelphia (Italian) and Northeast Philadelphia (Irish) remain mostly white. Chester is about 74 percent black, 17 percent white, 9 percent Hispanic.

The Philadelphia electric company is named just that: Philadelphia Electric Company, or PECO. And while it's not quite as close as it is to New York, much of the Jersey Shore is easily reachable from Philadelphia, thanks to Interstate 195, New Jersey Route 70, U.S. Routes 30 and 40, the Atlantic City Expressway, and New Jersey Transit's buses and its Atlantic City Rail Line. Point Pleasant Beach is 76 miles away, Seaside Heights 64 miles, Long Beach Island 62, Atlantic City 61, Ocean City 65, Wildwood 90, and Cape May 92.

Going In. Built in 2010, and named PPL Park until 2015 when PPL was bought out by a larger company, Talen Energy Stadium seats 18,500 people, on the bank of the Delaware River in Chester. Hence, the south end of the stadium, where the supporters groups sit, is known as the River End.
The official address is 1 Stadium Drive, in Chester, usually written as "One Stadium Drive." It's 16 miles southwest of Center City. If you're only going for a visit, not a game when there would be plenty of police protection, do not visit at night: Chester can be a dangerous city. Parking is $20.
The field is natural grass, and is laid out north-to-south. The U.S. national team played Colombia there on October 12, 2010, but lost. The 2012 MLS All-Star Game was played there, and the All-Stars defeated London club Chelsea.

Other international opponents to play the Union there include English clubs Manchester United, Everton of Liverpool, Aston Villa of Birmingham, Crystal Palace of South London, Stoke City of Staffordshire and Bournemouth of Dorset; Celtic of Glasgow, Scotland; Spain's Real Madrid, Germany's Schalke, and Mexico's Chivas de Guadalajara and UNAM Pumas.

Just as the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland usually have the football version of their annual Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, their soccer game is played at TES.

The stadium has also hosted rugby, and 2 football games between Villanova University and the University of Delaware. It can seat about 26,000 for concerts, and there is a plan to expand it to 30,000 for soccer. Until then, the plan is for Playoff games to be held at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Eagles.
That's the Commodore Barry Bridge in the background.

Food. From Old Original Bookbinder's (125 Walnut Street at 2nd, now closed) and Le Bec Fin (1523 Walnut at 16th) to the Reading Terminal Market (Philly's "South Street Seaport" at 51 N. 12th St at Filbert) to the South Philly cheesesteak giants Pat's, Geno's and Tony Luke's, Philly is a great food city and don't you ever forget it. The variety of food available at Talen Energy Stadium makes that available at Red Bull Arena look like high school cafeteria food by comparison.

Black Angus sells burgers, chicken tenders, "Big Ben Dogs" (hot dogs), fish & chips, and teriyaki chicken skewers, at Sections 101 and 122. Hot Dog Nation sells "specialty" hot dogs at 104 and 125. Authentic Philly sells regular hot dogs, cheesesteaks, chicken tenders, turkey burgers, "Veggie Steak" (whatever the hell that is) at 107 and 132. Fresh Classics sells regular hot dogs, Big Ben Dogs, chicken wraps, salads, at 112 and 117. Mozzarella's sells pizza and Italian-style sandwiches at 109 and 127.

There are Chickie's and Pete's outlets at 108 and 129. The Q 104 sells barbecue items at 104 (even though it's New York, not Philly, that has a radio station calling itself "Q104.3"). Blue Taco sells Mexican food at 120. Most stands sell French fries, nachos, popcorn, applesauce and Turkey Hill ice cream. And every stands sells Cracker Jacks and that Philly standard, soft pretzels. There's also a Dunkin Donuts tent outside the game, for pregame refreshment.

Team History Displays. As is often (but, now, incorrectly) sung of Chelsea F.C., the Union ain't got no history. Which is ironic, since the team is named for Philly's role in forging the national union. This is their 8th season of play, and they've made the MLS Cup Playoffs just twice so far (in 2011 and 2016), but they did reach the Final of the U.S. Open Cup in 2014 and '15.

The Union do not, as yet, have any retired numbers. They have not yet selected an All-Time Team. (Which makes sense: They haven't even celebrated a 10th Anniversary.) As a result, there are no team history displays in the areas viewable by fans. Forward Sebastian Le Toux, with them in the 2010, '11, '13, '14, '15 and '16 seasons, remains their all-time leader in games played and goals. (He was a washout with the Red Bulls in 2012, and is now with D.C. United.)

Stuff. I have never been to this stadium, and the club's website stinks, so I can't tell you where in the stadium their official team store is. And, as befitting a relatively new team without a championship to its name, there are no books or videos about it available.

During the Game. As I said earlier, the Union puts away supporters in Section 133, in the stadium's southeast corner, right across from the River End, where the various Philly supporters groups sit. Unlike most MLS stadiums, here, your safety may be an issue. Visiting fans, particularly Red Bulls fans, have reported that home fans have thrown bottles across the sections, targeting visitors. Others, however, have reported that such actions have never been done, and would never be condoned, by the Sons of Ben. So whoever is doing it is doing it without official sanction.

This game will be Throwback Night, as the Union will be using 1980s- and 1990s-themed songs, videos and scoreboard graphics. Obviously, they can't wear that era's uniforms, since Philly didn't have a top-flight soccer team between 1981 and 2009. Though, I suppose, like certain teams in other sports (notably the Tampa Bay Rays and the Minnesota Wild), they could design fake "fauxback" uniforms.

The Union hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They do not have a mascot.

The main supporters' section is called the River End, and is home to The Sons of Ben. The group was founded in 2007, nearly a year before they even had a commitment from MLS for a team for Philadelphia. They named themselves after Benjamin Franklin, and they created a logo for the team, showing a skull, with a Liberty Bell-style crack in it, wearing Franklin's hairstyle and bifocals, on a kite-shaped background. They got their team announced on February 28, 2008, to begin play in 2010. When the "Snake & Shield" logo, based on the "Don't Tread On Me" Gadsden Flag, was adopted by the club, the Sons kept the logo they designed for their club.
The motto reads "Ad Finem Fidelis": Faithful to the end.
Which is appropriate, since they sit (and stand) in the River End.

Of course, fans of the rival New York Red Bulls and D.C. United tend to call them The Daughters of Betsy -- after Betsy Ross. This does not stop the Sons from singing their theme song, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," or their goal song, "Maria (I Like It Loud)" by Scooter. (A German techno group, not Phil Rizzuto or the Muppet.)
The River End

The difficult early history has led to a song to the tune of "Build Me Up, Buttercup":

Why do you build me up, Philly U, baby
just to let me down and mess me around
and then, worst of all, you never score, Union
like you say you will, but we love you still!
We need U! More than anyone, Union
you know that we have from the start!
So build me up, Philly U
don't break my heart. 

They sing, "We Are the Sons of Ben" to "Popeye the Sailor Man." They sing a variation on Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough." They used to taunt Red Bulls fans with a song that eventually ran to "Eighteen Years, No Cups," but that became stupid once we got a Supporters' Shield (and then another), while they've made the Playoffs only twice.

They also had to scrap the "You're Moving to Baltimore" song for D.C. United, but, like Red Bulls fans do, they still taunt them about their soon-to-be-left stadium: "RFK Is Falling Down!" And they like that classic that we also like:

Where's your father?
Where's your father?
Where's your father, referee?
You ain't got one!
Never had one!
You're a bastard referee!

Other Union supporter groups include the Tammany Saints (Section 101), the IllegitimateS (spelled with that capital S, in 133 with the away fans), the Corner Creeps (134), the Bridge Crew (120 and 121) and La Union Latina (114).

After the Game. Philadelphia is a big city, with all the difficulties of big cities as well as many of the perks of them. But since this game isn't in Philly proper, you're more likely to drive straight home, or to get on the shuttle bus back to Chester and take the 3 trains home.

It's also worth noting that there's no place within a 5-minute walk of the parking lot to get a postgame meal or drink, so you're going to have to wait until you get back to 30th Street Station or a Turnpike rest area.

If you took the train(s) down, the game should end by 9:30, and a shuttle bus should get you back to the Chester Transportation Center in time for you to catch the 9:57 train back to 30th Street, getting there at 10:26, and then switch to the 10:44 Trenton train, which will allow you to get the 11:57 PM NJ Transit train back to New York, arriving at Penn Station at 1:36 AM.

The Tavern on Broad, at 200 S. Broad Street at Walnut, sand the Fox & Hound, at 1501 Spruce Street and 15th Street, have both been alleged to be the headquarters of the local Giants fan club. BSL or MFL to City Hall. Revolution House, at 200 Market Street and 2nd Street, is apparently the local Jets fan hangout. MFL to 2nd Street.

A particular favorite restaurant of mine is the New Deck Tavern, at 3408 Sansom Street in University City, on the Penn campus. MFL to 34th Street. You can also pick up a sandwich, a snack or a drink at any of several Wawa stores in and around the city.

If your visit to Philly is during the European soccer season (which is now approaching its climax), you can probably watch your favorite club at Fadó Irish Pub, at 1500 Locust Street in Center City. Be advised that this is home to supporters' groups for Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic FC; so if you're not particularly fond of any of those teams, you might want to stay away.

Across the street from Fadó, at 1511 Locust, is Misconduct Tavern, home of the town's Arsenal supporters group. The main Man United bar is the Black Sheep Pub, at 247 S. 17th Street. Fans of Newcastle United meet at The Bards, at 2013 Walnut Street. These are all within a 5-minute walk of each other, and can be reached via BSL to Walnut-Locust.

A little further north of them is Tir na nOg (that's how they spell it) at 1600 Arch Street, home to the Delaware Valley's Chelsea, Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Real Madrid fans. BSL or MFL to City Hall.

Everton fans meet at O'Neal's, 611 S. 3rd Street at South Street. Barcelona and Bayern Munich fans meet at Dark Horse Pub, 421 S. 2nd Street, on Headhouse Square. For either of these, MFL to 2nd Street, then Bus 42

AC Milan fans meet at Alla Spina, at 1410 Mount Vernon Street at Broad Street (BSL to Spring Garden), or at Fadó if their game starts earlier than Alla Spina opens. Fans of other Italian teams tend to gather at Gran Café L'Aquila, at 1716 Chestnut Street (BSL or MFL to City Hall). Fans of German clubs, including the aforementioned Bayern, meet at Brauhaus Schmitz, 718 South Street (MFL to 8th Street, then Bus 47).

Sidelights. The Philadelphia sports complex once included 3 buildings that have all been replaced and demolished: From north to south, the Vet, the Spectrum and JFK Stadium. The arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center was built on the site of JFK Stadium. Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies, was built to the east of The Vet. And Lincoln Financial Field was built south of the new ballpark, and east of the Spectrum.

* Sesquicentennial/Municipal/JFK Stadium. Built in 1926 for a 150th Anniversary (Sesquicentennial of American independence) world's fair in Philadelphia, this 105,000-seat horseshoe (open at the north end) was designed for football, but one of its earliest events was a fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. For the 1st time, that title changed hands on a decision, rather than on a knockout. But Gene Tunney so decisively outfought champion Jack Dempsey that no one disputed it. (When they had their rematch a year later, at Soldier Field in Chicago, that was another story.)

The stadium was renamed Municipal Stadium in 1931 (sometimes it was called simply Philadelphia Stadium), and, due to being (roughly) halfway between the service academies, became the site of the Army-Navy Game from 1936 to 1941, and again from 1945 to 1979, before it was moved to The Vet.

Gene Tunney took the Heavyweight Championship of the World from Jack Dempsey there in 1926. Jersey Joe Walcott, from across the Delaware River in Merchantville, defended the title there in the last of his 4 fights with Ezzard Charles in 1952, then lost the title a few months later when he was knocked out by Rocky Marciano.

The Eagles played home games there from 1936 to 1939, and in 1941, and select games thereafter, including the 1950 season opener that was, as soccer fans would call it, a "Charity Shield" game: The 2-time defending NFL Champion Eagles vs. the Cleveland Browns, 4-time titlists in the All-America Football Conference. The Browns were 47-4-3 over the AAFC's 4-season history; the Eagles, 22-3-1 over the last 2 years, thanks to a 5-2 alignment that was the 1st defensive unit to have a memorable nickname: Before San Diego and Los Angeles had a Fearsome Foursome, Philly had a Suicide Seven.

Some people then called it "The Game of the Century," and some now think of as an unofficial "first Super Bowl" -- ironic, since neither team has won an NFL Championship in the Super Bowl era, and the Browns haven't even been to a Super Bowl yet. Playing on a Saturday night -- making it, sort of, not just "the 1st Super Bowl" but "the 1st Monday Night Football game" -- in front of 71,237 fans, which is still the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Philadelphia (and nearly double the capacity of Shibe Park, which really limited the Eagles' attendance), the Browns beat the Eagles 35-10, stunning football fans all over the nation. The Eagles never recovered, while the Browns won the NFL title that year, and appeared in 7 title games in 8 years, winning 3.

In 1964, Municipal Stadium was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium. On August 16, 1966, the Beatles played there. On July 13, 1985, it hosted the American end of Live Aid. But that show exposed to the world that it already falling apart. The Rolling Stones, who had packed the place on their 1981 Tattoo You tour, chose the considerably smaller Vet for Steel Wheels in 1989. It was demolished in 1992, and the new arena opened on the site in 1996.

* The Spectrum. This modern (for its time) arena opened in 1967, and 2 teams at the opposite ends of the competitive, uh, spectrum moved in: The 76ers, the NBA's defending Champions; and the Flyers, an NHL expansion team. Although the Flyers won inspirational (and confrontational) Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, they also lost in the Finals in 1976, '80, '85 and '87. And while the Sixers won the 1983 NBA title in a dominating season-long performance, they also lost in the Finals in 1977, '80 and '82, and were lost after a couple of puzzling Draft Day trades in 1986.

The Spectrum hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1976 and 1981, both times won by Bobby Knight's Indiana. Since 1976 was the Bicentennial year, it also hosted the NBA and NHL All-Star Games. The Vet also hosted baseball's All-Star Game that year. And the Spectrum was the site of both fights between Philly native Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the former in the first Rocky, on New Year's Day 1976, and the latter in Rocky II, on Thanksgiving of that year. (Rocky II was released in 1978, but the scripts make the dates definitive. All the movies' fights were actually filmed at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, due to its proximity to Hollywood.)

The Spectrum was also a big arena for college basketball: Villanova used it for home games that were too big for its on-campus Pavilion, the Atlantic 10 Conference used it for its tournament, and it hosted NCAA Tournament games at the sub-Final Four level, including the 1992 thriller that put Duke into the Final Four at Kentucky's expense, thanks to the last-second shot of Christian Laettner.

The 1st rock concert there was by Cream, on their 1968 farewell tour. The last, and the last public event there, was by Pearl Jam in 2009. Elvis Presley played it on November 8, 1971; 2 shows on June 23, 1974; June 28, 1976; and, on what turned out to be his final tour, May 28, 1977. The Grateful Dead and Aerosmith became known for their Spectrum shows. So did Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, who are honored with banners for their shows at the Wells Fargo Center. (Billy and Elton John are so honored at Madison Square Garden.)

The Spectrum became, in the words of its promoters, "America's Showplace" and the most-used sports arena in the world. This was a blessing and a curse: They could make a lot of money off of it, but it was limited. So Spectacor, the company that owned the Spectrum and the Sixers, built Spectrum II -- which, in a series of naming-rights changes due to bigger banks swallowing old ones, became the CoreStates Center, the First Union Center (Flyer fans loved calling it "the F.U. Center"), the Wachovia Center and now the Wells Fargo Center.

From 1996 to 2009, the arenas stood side-by-side. The main Spectrum tenants said goodbye as follows: The Flyers with an exhibition game on September 27, 2008, with all their former Captains on hand, as the Fly Guys beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2; Villanova with the building's last college basketball game on January 28, 2009, a win over the University of Pittsburgh; and on March 13, 2009, the Sixers beat the Chicago Bulls 104-101 in a special regular-season game.

The Spectrum was demolished the next year, and replaced in part with a live concert venue called "Xfinity Live!" (Yes, the exclamation point is included in the official name.) This structure now hosts the statues that were outside the Spectrum: For Julius Erving, for Kate Smith, and a statue titled "Score!" depicting Gary Dornhoefer's overtime goal against the Minnesota North Stars in the 1973 Playoffs. The statue of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky was moved, appropriately enough, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not far from the steps he ran up in every movie. A hotel is planned for the rest of the Spectrum site.

* Veterans Stadium. When it opened on April 10, 1971, it was considered state of the art and wonderful. And, as the Phillies had a great team from 1976 to 1983, reaching 6 postseasons in 8 years, winning 2 Pennants and the 1980 World Series, it became beloved by Phils fans. The Eagles, too, had a resurgence in the late 1970s, and hosted and won the 1980 NFC Championship Game.

The Vet was seen as everything that Connie Mack Stadium was not: New instead of old, in good shape instead of falling apart, in a safe place instead of a ghetto (unless you were a New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys fan), and -- with Paul Owens and Dallas Green working their magic for the Phils, and Jim Murray and Dick Vermeil doing the same for the Eagles -- representative of victory instead of defeat.

The Vet hosted the Army-Navy Game every year from 1980 to 2001, except for 1983, 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2000. (The 1983 game was played at the Rose Bowl, the 2000 game at the new Ravens' stadium in Baltimore, and the rest, as well as the 2002 game, at the Meadowlands.) Temple played home games there from 1978 to 2002, and the USFL's Philadelphia Stars in 1983 and 1984. In the old North American Soccer League, the Philadelphia Atoms played there from 1973 to 1975, and the Philadelphia Fury from 1978 to 1980.

The Eagles had a down period in the mid-1980s, but rebounded toward the end of the decade. But the Phils had collapsed, and the Vet's faults began to be seen: It was ugly, the sight lines were bad for baseball, and the turf was bad for both sports. The turf was bad for everything, from eyes to knees.

By the time the Phils won the Pennant in 1993, Camden Yards had opened just down the road in Baltimore, and suddenly everyone wanted a downtown "retro park," and no one wanted one of the suburban (or sort-of-suburban, as in the Vet's case) "cookie-cutter stadiums" that dominated the 1960s and '70s.

It took a few more years, and a lot of complaints from opposing NFL players that the stadium was deteriorating and the turf was dangerous, for a new stadium to be approved. The Eagles closed the Vet out with a shocking and devastating loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFC Championship Game, and the Phils did so with a loss to the Atlanta Braves on September 28, 2003. The Eagles had already moved into their new stadium by that point, and the Phils moved into theirs the next April, a few days after the Vet's demolition. The baseball and football sculptures that were outside have been placed on Pattison Avenue, in front of the parking lot where the Vet once stood.

* Wells Fargo Center. Despite having 5 different names in its 1st 14 years, this arena, built on the site of JFK Stadium, is a big improvement over the Spectrum, which had a common flaw in arenas built in the 1960s, '70s and '80s: Two levels of seats but only one level of concourse. The Fargo has a lot more concourse space, and even a sellout doesn't feel cramped.

Since it opened, the Flyers have made their sport's Finals twice, in 1997 and 2010; the Sixers, once, in 2001; all 3 were lost. While the new arena is much more comfortable for the fans, it's not especially intimidating: The sound doesn't carry as well as it did in the Spectrum. No opposing hockey player is afraid of the noise that Flyer fans make anymore, the Sixers don't exactly have a good home-court advantage, and as for anyone being afraid of Villanova, well, even their newly-won National Championship won't make that happen: They're called "Vanilla-Nova" for a reason. The Wells Fargo Center hosted the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, the Frozen Four, in 2014.

The arena includes a statue of Philly native, and former Warriors and Sixers star, Wilt Chamberlain, dedicated a few years after his death in 1999. (Dr. J got his statue shortly after he retired.) It hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000, nominating George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. So if you need a reason to dislike the place, there's a good one. The Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton there in a few weeks.

* Lincoln Financial Field. The new home of the Eagles has seen them make the Playoffs more often than not, and reach the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. And fan behavior, while still rowdy, is not as criminal as it was at The Vet: No more municipal court under the stands is necessary.

"The Linc" has hosted the Army-Navy Game every year since it opened, except for 2007, 2011 and 2016. It's hosted 4 games of the U.S. National Soccer Team, most recently a 1-0 win over Paraguay in the 2016 Copa America; games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, an MLS All-Star Game, and several games by touring European teams such as Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic and A.C. Milan. It will host an NHL Stadium Series game between the Pennsylvania teams, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, in 2019.

If you drove down, or you came by train early on Saturday and have the whole day to yourself before a 7:05 gametime, in addition to the other stadiums and arenas at the Sports Complex, there are lots of interesting locations for you to check out. Remember that, although the city's centerpoint is technically Broad & Market Streets, where City Hall is, the numbering of north-south streets starts at the Delaware River, so that Broad takes the place of 14th Street.

* Citizens Bank Park. Home to the Phillies since 2004, it is far more appropriate for baseball than the Vet ever was. Until 2012, the Phils never played a season here where they were out of the National League Playoff race before the last week of the regular season. They won Division titles there in 2007, '08, '09, '10 and '11, Pennants in 2008 and '09, and the World Series in 2008.

* Site of Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium. This is where the A's played from 1909 to 1954, the Phils from 1938 to 1970, and the Eagles in 1940, and from 1942 to 1957. The A's played World Series there in 1910, '11, '12, '13, '14, '29, '30 and '31, and the Phils (against the Yanks) in '50.

The Eagles played and won the 1948 NFL Championship Game at Shibe Park, beating the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a snowstorm, and also won the NFL title in '49 (though the title game was played in Los Angeles against the Rams). The Frankford Yellow Jackets sometimes used it in the 1920s, winning the 1926 NFL Championship.

On October 14, 1948, shortly after Israel declared its independence, its national soccer team faced the U.S. at Shibe Park, shortly after doing so at Yankee Stadium. These were Israel's 1st 2 matches, and the U.S. won them both.

After the Phillies bought the ballpark from the Mack family in 1952, they renamed it Connie Mack Stadium. The A's moved to Kansas City, and the Phils were alone in the increasingly inadequate 33,608-seat relic. They finally got Veterans Stadium built, and left Connie Mack Stadium after the 1970 season. A fire the next year gutted the place, and it was finally demolished in 1976.

The site sat vacant for many years, until Deliverance Evangelistic Church was built on the site in 1991. Be advised, though, that this is North Philly, and the church is easily the nicest building for several blocks around. Across the street is Dobbins Tech, a high school known for its great basketball program. (Remember the story of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble? They went to Dobbins. So did Dawn Staley.) 21st Street & Lehigh Avenue. By subway, use the North Philadelphia station on the Broad Street Line, and walk 7 blocks west on Lehigh.

* Site of Baker Bowl. This was where the Phils played from 1887 to 1938, and the Eagles from 1933 to 1943 (though sometimes moving to Municipal Stadium, the one renamed for JFK). It was also the Eagles' 1st home, in the 1933, '34 and '35 seasons; and their predecessor franchise, the Frankford Yellow Jackets, played their last season there, 1931.
It was the last 19th Century ballpark still in use, and the last wooden one, too. On August 6, 1894, the original version, named the Huntingdon Avenue Grounds, burned down, fortunately while the Phils were on the road. After a quick build of makeshift stands, and 6 games at the University of Pennsylvania's field at 39th & Spruce Streets, the Phils moved back in on August 18. After the season, it was rebuilt for 1895, with 2 cantilevered steel decks, seating 18,800 -- big for the time, but woefully inadequate following the ballpark building boom of the Taft and Wilson years. It was named for team owner William F. Baker.

On August 8, 1903, a balcony collapsed at Baker Bowl, killing 12 people -- the closest North American sports has ever come to the kind of stadium disasters that have fallen soccer stadiums in Britain and continental Europe. The Phillies then played 16 home games at Columbia Park while Baker Bowl was being repaired.

On May 14, 1927, rotting timbers, weakened further by rainfall, caused a section of Baker Bowl's right field upper deck to collapse. Incredibly, no one was killed, but the resulting stampede injured 50 people, and 1 man died of a heart attack. Again, the Phils groundshared with the A's on a temporary basis, before moving in permanently during the 1938 season.

Because of the shape of the land, the right-field foul pole was just 280 feet from home plate, and so a high fence was erected. The fence was tall enough for a giant soap ad, reading, "The Phillies use LIFEBUOY." The joke was, "And they still stink!"

It was not kept up well, and the Reading Railroad tunnel gave center field a bit of a rise. Baker Bowl became known as The Dump By the Hump. The team was just as bad: In the site's 52 seasons of use, only once did the Phils win a Pennant, and only 1 World Series was played there. That was in 1915, and the Phils lost to the Boston Red Sox. But Game 2 was attended by President Woodrow Wilson, making Baker Bowl the 1st ballpark to host both a World Series and a President of the United States at the same time.

It was used for "midget auto" racing until it was finally demolished in 1950 -- ironically, the year the "Whiz Kids" Phils won the Pennant 7 blocks away at Shibe Park. Retail now occupies the site. Southwest corner of Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue. Same subway stop as Shibe/Connie Mack.

* Site of Columbia Park. The A's original home was in a section of North Philly called Brewerytown, on Columbia Avenue at 29th Street. It was a 13,600-seat wooden structure with a right field fence that, like Baker Bowl's, was only 280 feet from home plate. Here, the A's won the Pennant in 1902 and 1905.

When the A's built Shibe Park in 1908-09, the sod was transplanted from Columbia Park. After lying vacant for a few years, it was torn down, and the familiar Philly-style row houses were built on the site. Columbia Avenue, and its stop on the Broad Street Line, were renamed for Philadelphia civil rights leader and City Councilman Cecil B. Moore Avenue following his death in 1979. 2900 Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

* Recreation Park. Perhaps the 1st home of baseball in Philadelphia, the site was used at least as far back as 1860. It was the 1st home of the Phillies, from 1883 to 1886. By 1890, the 6,500-seat wooden grandstand was gone. Row houses and 2 churches now occupy the site. 2400 Ridge Avenue.

* Jefferson Street Grounds. The 1st home of openly professional baseball in Philadelphia, the original Philadelphia Athletics played there in the National Association from 1871 to 1875, and in the National League in 1876, before being kicked out of the League. From 1883 (a Pennant year for them) until 1890 (when they folded), it was the home of the American Association's version of the Philadelphia Athletics. (Neither of these Athletics have any connection but name to the American League team now based in Oakland.)

The 1st game in NL history was played at this 5,000-seat wooden facility, on April 22, 1876, and the Athletics lost 6-5 to the Boston Red Stockings (forerunners of the Atlanta Braves.) It was demolished sometime after 1890, and a school named Camelot Academy, including, appropriately enough, athletic fields, is now on the site. 1435 N. 26th Street, also in Brewerytown. The sites of Columbia Park, Recreation Park, and the Jefferson Street Grounds all can be reached by Bus 3, 7 or 48 from Cecil B. Moore stop on the Broad Street Line.

If you're going to any of these old ballpark sites, do it in daylight.

* The Palestra. Built in 1927, this is the arena aptly nicknamed the Cathedral of Basketball. It even has stained-glass windows. (I swear, I am not making that up.) The home gymnasium of the University of Pennsylvania (or just "Penn"), it also hosts some games of Philly's informal "Big 5" basketball programs when they play each other: Penn, Temple, La Salle, St. Joseph's and Villanova.

Penn, a member of the Ivy League, has one of the nicest college campuses anywhere, but do not be fooled by its Ivyness: In Philadelphia, even the Ivy Leaguers are tough. 235 South 33rd Street. Take the "Subway-Surface Line" trolley, either the Number 11, 13, 34 or 36, to the 33rd Street stop.

As I said, Philadelphia has hosted 2 NCAA Final Fours, both at the Spectrum. 'Nova has made it 5 times: 1939, 1971, 1985, 2009 and 2016. La Salle made it in back-to-back years, 1954 and 1955. Temple made it in 1956 and 1958, although never under legendary coach John Chaney. St. Joe's made it in 1961, and just missed in 2004. Penn made it in 1979, under future Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly. Temple won the NIT in 1938, but the only Philly-based National Champions under the NCAA banner (which began in 1939) are La Salle in 1954 and 'Nova in 1985 and 2016.

* Franklin Field, right next to the Palestra. The oldest continuously-used college football site, the Penn Quakers have played here since 1895 (which is also when the Penn Relay Carnival, the nation's premier track-and-field event, began), and in the current stadium since 1922. That year, it supposedly hosted the first football game ever broadcast on radio (a claim the University of Pittsburgh disputes), and in 1939 it supposedly hosted the first football game ever televised (a claim New York's Columbia University disputes). The amazing building in the west end zone is the University administration building.

The original Franklin Field was the 1st midpoint/neutral site game for Army vs. Navy: 1899 to 1904, 1906 to 1912, and 1914. The current structure hosted it in 1922, and 1932 to 1935, before it was moved to Municipal/JFK Stadium.

The Eagles played here from 1958 to 1970, including their last NFL Championship, December 26, 1960, beating the Green Bay Packers in a thriller, 17-13. Half a century. Penn's football team has been considerably more successful, having won 14 Ivy League titles since the league was formally founded in 1955.

Like the Palestra, the stadium at Franklin Field is in surprisingly good shape (must be all those Penn/Wharton Business School grads donating for its upkeep), although the playing field has been artificial turf since 1969. Same trolley stop as the Palestra.

* Site of the Philadelphia Civic Center. This complex included the Convention Hall, where Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for President by the Democrats in 1936, Wendell Willkie by the Republicans in 1940 and both Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey were nominated in 1948 – that year's Republican Convention being the first televised convention. It was built on the site of the Exposition Auditorium, where the Republicans renominated William McKinley in 1900.

(The Democrats met in Atlantic City at the Convention Hall, now named Boardwalk Hall, in 1964, nominating Lyndon Johnson. 2301 Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue. New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line from 30th Street Station. The Beatles played there a few days before.)

The Beatles played here on September 2, 1964. Pope John Paul II said Mass here. The Philadelphia Warriors played here from 1952 to 1962, when they moved to San Francisco (and now the "Golden State Warriors" play in Oakland), and the 76ers from 1963 until the Spectrum opened in 1967. Joe Louis defended the Heavyweight Championship of the World here, knocking Gus Dorazio out in the 2nd round on February 17, 1941.

Titles were won here by the 1956 Warriors and the 1967 76ers. The Philadelphia Blazers played the 1st World Hockey Association season here, 1972-73, but were terrible, and with the Flyers on the way up, nobody wanted to see the WHA team. They moved to Vancouver the next season.

So many Philly area greats played here, in high school, college and the pros, but you need know one name -- pardon the pun -- above all others: Wilt Chamberlain. I saw a concert here in 1989, and the acoustics were phenomenal, with a horseshoe of seats and a stage at one end, much like Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and the building once known as the Baltimore Civic Center.

Built in 1931, it was demolished in 2005 to make way for the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. an addition to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. 34th Street & Civic Center Boulevard. Same stop as the Palestra and Franklin Field, which are a block away.

* Site of Philadelphia Arena. Built in 1920, this was the first home of the NBA's Warriors from 1946 to 1952, and site of some 76ers home games as well. It seated only 6,500 at its peak, so the Civic Center and later the Spectrum were preferable.

The Arena made its name hosting college hockey: Penn playing there was understandable, but, at the time, Princeton and even faraway Yale did not have their own rinks, and used the Arena as home ice.

The worst team in NHL history played there: The 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers. After 5 seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, they clowned their way to a record of 4 wins, 40 losses and 4 ties, making them about as bad as the worst team in NBA history, the 1972-73 76ers (9-73). They were strapped during this 2nd indoor sports season of the Great Depression, and went out of business thereafter. Although several minor-league teams would play at the Arena -- the Arrows, the Comets, the Ramblers, the Falcons and the Rockets -- it would not be until 1967, with the opening of the Spectrum and the beginning of the Flyers, that Philly would have another NHL team.

Baseball pitcher-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday delivered sermons there in the 1920s,, and Charles Lindbergh used it for an America First speech in 1940. Early in his career, Elvis sang at the Arena on back-to-back days, doing 2 shows each on April 5 and 6, 1957.

Philly's ABC affiliate, Channel 6, formerly WFIL and now WPVI, built its studio next-door. It still stands. The Arena does not: It caught fire on August 24, 1983, and had to be demolished. A housing project is on the site today. 4530 Market Street. Market Street Line to 46th Street.

* Site of the National Athletic Club. This was home base for Joseph Francis Hagan, who fought under the name Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, He won the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1905, but abandoned it to fight for the Heavyweight Championship. He never got it, losing to Tommy Burns in Los Angeles in 1907, and gaining a generous draw (decided by racist judges) against Jack Johnson at the National A.C. on May 19, 1909.

I can find no record of when the National A.C. was demolished, only that it no longer stands. 1100 Catharine Street, Broad Street Line to Lombard-South.

* Site of Frankford Stadium. Philadelphia's 1st pro football team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who played at Frankford Stadium in Northeast Philly from 1924 to 1930, winning the 1926 NFL Championship, before a fire on the eve of the 1931 season forced them into Baker Bowl and then into folding.

The stadium was on a plot bounded by Frankford Avenue, Devereaux Avenue, Hawthorne Street and Benner Street. An AutoZone (at 6137 Frankford) and rowhouses are on the site now. Market-Frankford Line to Frankford Transportation Center, then transfer to SEPTA Bus 66 Frankford & Harbison Avenues.

In addition to the Yellow Jackets, another ill-fated team played in Eastern Pennsylvania in the NFL's early days. The Pottsville Maroons played at the 5,000-seat Minersville Park, at the intersection of Sunbury Road and Prison Road, 106 miles northwest of Philly, from 1920 to 1928. They claimed the 1925 NFL Championship, but may have been "robbed" of the title.

* Site of Broadwood Hotel. From 1924 to 1991, this hotel stood at the intersection of Broad and Wood Streets, just north of Center City. From 1924 to 1946, its ballroom was the home of the Philadelphia SPHAs -- a basketball team run by the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, even though it wasn't in South Philly. This team would evolve into the Warriors. A parking deck for Hahnemann University Hospital is on the site now. Broad Street Line to Race-Vine.

* Site of Cherry Hill Arena. Before the Devils, the 1st hockey team with major league pretensions to call New Jersey home was actually in South Jersey. In the 1973-74 World Hockey Association season, the former New York Raiders set up shop at the Cherry Hill Arena in Bergen County, and renamed themselves the Jersey Knights.

The building went up in 1959 as the Ice House, and was later renamed the Delaware Valley Gardens before assuming its most familiar name, but no one was confusing it with Madison Square Garden (old or new), the Boston Garden or Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Sports Illustrated called it "perhaps the worst facility" used by any WHA team, noting that it lacked showers in the dressing room for visiting teams, who had to dress at a Holiday Inn 2 miles away, and that the ice surface was not even level, giving the home team a distinct advantage, as, 2 periods out of every 3, the visitors would have to skate uphill to the opponent's goal.

The Eastern Hockey League placed 2 teams there: The Jersey Larks in 1960-61, and the Jersey Devils (the 1st pro hockey team with the name) from 1964 until 1973, when the arrival of the Knights forced their move. The Philadelphia Warriors played an occasional "home game" there.

The Knights left for San Diego after the 1973-74 season. In 1978, the Arena was renamed The Centrum, and the Northeastern Hockey League placed the Jersey Aces there, but they only lasted a few games. The Arena was demolished in 1981. 

The site is now a parking lot for a shopping center that includes a Burger King and a Retro Fitness. 1447 Brace Road, at Haddonfield-Berlin Road. Not easy to reach by public transit: PATCO train to Haddonfield, then almost a half-hour walk.

* Temple University. Straddling the border between Center City and the mostly-black North Philadelphia ghetto, Temple has given thousands of poor urban kids a chance to make something of themselves, including comedian Bill Cosby, who ran track for the school, including in the Penn Relays at Franklin Field.

Temple now plays basketball at the Liacouras Center, at 1776 N. Broad Street, across from its former arena, McGonigle Hall, at 1800. Broad Street Line to Cecil B. Moore station.

The Owls have played football at the South Philly complex since 1978, first at The Vet and now at the Linc. From 1928 to 1977, they played at Temple Stadium, a 20,000-seat facility on the city's northern edge. On September 25, 1968, the U.S. soccer team played Israel to a draw there. It was demolished in 1996, and, like Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium, the site is now home to a church. 2800 Pickering Avenue at Vernon Road. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then transfer to the Number 18 bus toward Cedarbook Mall.

* LaSalle University. All of Philly's Big 5 basketball universities are private; unlike Penn and Temple, La Salle, St. Joe's and 'Nova are Catholic. LaSalle is in the northernmost reaches of the city, its bookstore at 1900 W. Olney Avenue, and the Explorers' new Tom Gola Arena, named for their late 1950s superstar and 1960s coach, and 2100 W. Olney. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center.

* St. Joseph's University. St. Joe's straddles the western edge of the city, on a hill bisected by City Line Avenue. They are known for their Hawk mascot flapping his wings throughout the game, never stopping, thus leading to the chant, "The Hawk will never die!" This, of course, leads their Big 5 opponents to chant, "The Hawk must die!" and, if victorious, "The Hawk is dead!"

Their fieldhouse, now named the Michael J. Hagan Arena, is at 2450 N. 54th Street, and features a plaque commemorating a 1967 speech delivered there by Martin Luther King. Number 44 bus from Center City.

* Villanova University. The Wildcats just won their 2nd National Championship, defeating North Carolina in a thriller in Houston, 31 years after their even more amazing upset of Georgetown in Lexington, Kentucky.

Famously (well, famous within the Philadelphia area, anyway), they played a Big 5 game against St. Joe's at the Palestra a few years back, having beaten each of the other Big 5 schools, and, pulling away, their fans chanted, "We own Philly!" The St. Joe's fans, no fools, reminded them of their location, in the town of Villanova, 18 miles northwest of Center City: "You ain't Philly!"

Jake Nevin Field House, their home at the time of their 1985 National Championship, and The Pavilion, which that success allowed them to build, are next to each other, along with their bookstore, at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue. They also have a 12,500-seat stadium for their Division I-AA football team. SEPTA R5 commuter rail to Villanova Station.

Of the Big 5, only Temple plays Division I-A football: Temple, 'Nova and LaSalle play I-AA, and while St. Joseph's Prep has one of the better programs in Philly-area high school football, their collegiate namesake doesn't play football at all.

* Rowan University. Founded in 1923, and known as Glassboro State College for most of its history, from 1958 to 1992, this school is in Glassboro, Gloucester County, and is the largest institution of higher learning in South Jersey. It was prominent enough of a place in 1967 that it hosted a summit conference between President Lyndon B. Johnson and Alexei Kosygin, then Premier of the Soviet Union. If there were a University of New Jersey (and it wasn't Rutgers), this would probably be it.

Alas, they are NCAA Division III, but they are home to a semi-pro soccer team, named the Philadelphia Fury, after a former team in the old NASL. They play in the American Soccer League, North America's 4th division, at Rowan's 4,000-seat Richard Wackar Stadium. Carpenter Street and Joseph L. Bowe Blvd., 22 miles south of Center City. Bus 412.

* Spike's Trophies. When the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society closed its facility in the northern suburb of Hatboro, they moved their operations, and the plaques honoring A's greats that used to be on the concourse wall at the Vet, to this store near Northeast Philadelphia Airport. 2701 Grant Avenue at Ashton Road. Market-Frankford Line to Frankford Transportation Center, then transfer to Number 50 Bus.

* Laurel Hill Cemetery. This is the final resting place of Flyers founding owner Ed Snider; former Phillies manager Harry Wright, who founded the 1st professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869; and of longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas. 215 Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, not far from the St. Joe's campus. Use the Number 44 bus to get to both.

* Gladwyne Methodist Church. Kalas' longtime broadcast partner, the Hall of Fame center fielder Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, is laid to rest here. 316 Righters Mill Road in Gladwyne. The Number 44 bus can also be used for this.

* Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. This is the final resting place of Connie Mack. 3301 W. Cheltenham Avenue. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then Number 22 bus.

Philadelphia is home to Independence National Historic Park, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Visitor's Center is at 6th & Market Streets: At this complex, there will be people there to advise you on what to do. 5th Street on the Market Street Line.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at what's now known as Declaration House, at 599 S. 7th Street, although the front of the building would be 700 Market Street (which would suggest 1 S. 7th Street).

The President's House -- that's as formal a name as it had -- was where George Washington (1790-97) and John Adams (1797-1800) lived while Philadelphia was the national capital before Washington, D.C.. It was demolished in 1832. When digging to build the new Liberty Bell Center, the house's foundation was found, and somebody must've asked, "Why didn't anybody think of this before?" So, an exhibit has been set up, at 530 Market Street at 6th. The new Liberty Bell Center is between it and Independence Hall (Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th). Be advised that since 9/11 -- and since the movie National Treasure -- they're understandably a bit finicky about security there.

The oldest surviving Presidential residence (chosen specifically for the President, not counting homes like Mount Vernon or Monticello) is the Germantown White House, which still stands at 5442 Germantown Avenue. George Washington and John Adams used it to escape the heat and, more importantly, the yellow fever epidemics of what's now Center City Philadelphia, making it less "the first Summer White House" and more "the first Camp David." SEPTA R7 to Germantown, then 3 blocks down Armat Street and a left on Germantown Avenue. Definitely not safe at night.

Speaking of George Washington, Valley Forge National Historical Park is just an hour's bus ride from Suburban Station. On JFK Blvd. at 17th Street, board the SEPTA 125 bus. Valley Forge Casino Resort and the King of Prussia Mall are a short drive (or a moderate walk) away. The fare is $4.75 each way ($9.50 total).

Only one President has ever come from Pennsylvania, and he might be the worst one of all: James Buchanan, whose Administration began with the Panic of 1857 and ended with the secession of several Southern States. (Whether Buchanan was gay has been debated since even before he became President, but the evidence is flimsy.) His home, Wheatland, still stands at 1120 Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, and he's buried about a mile away in Greenwood Cemetery. But Lancaster, the heart of "Pennsylvania Dutch Country," is 80 miles west of Philly. It's a cheap trip by Amtrak standards, but unless you've always wanted to visit the area, or you're a big history buff, I'd suggest forgetting about it if you're pressed for time.

The Musical Fund Hall hosted the 1st Republican National Convention in 1856, nominating John C. Fremont for President. (He lost to Buchanan.) It was one of many historical meetings at this building, which has stood since 1824. 808 Locust Street, Center City. The Academy of Music hosted their 1872 Convention, renominating President Ulysses S. Grant. It opened in 1857, and hosted the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 to 2001, when the Kimmel Center opened across Locust Street. 240 S. Broad Street, Center City.

And the Walnut Street Theatre, which opened in 1809 and is the oldest continuously operating theater in America, hosted the 1st Presidential Debate of the 1976 campaign, between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. 825 Walnut Street, Center City.

Philadelphia's answer to the Museum of Natural History is the University of Pennsylvania Museum, at 33rd & South Streets, across from Franklin Field. (Same trolley stop.) Their answer to the Hayden Planetarium -- and a better one -- is the Franklin Institute, which is also the national memorial to Big Ben, the man who, more than any man made any city in the Western Hemisphere, made Philadelphia. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Number 76 bus. 76, get it? The bus is nicknamed "The Ben FrankLine."

At the other end of the Parkway, at 25th and Spring Garden Streets, is Philly's answer to the Metropolitan, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rocky Balboa statue is here, and it doesn't cost anything except sweat to run up the steps.

The chocolate city of Hershey, Pennsylvania is 95 miles west of Center City, and only 15 miles east of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The smell of chocolate wafts over the city, and is the source of the nickname "The Sweetest Place On Earth." Amtrak goes from 30th Street station to Harrisburg and nearby Middletown (the home of the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which is still in operation and hasn't had an incident since the one in 1979), but if you want to go to any prominent place in Hersey, you'll have to rely on local bus service.

There are 4 prominent places in Hershey. There's the Hershey's chocolate factory. There's Hersheypark amusement park. There's Hersheypark Stadium is a 15,641-seat high school football stadium, opened in 1939. On May 9, 1990, the U.S. soccer team beat Poland there. Most notably, Hersheypark Arena, formerly Hershey Sports Arena, which now seats 7,286 people. The Warriors and 76ers played a few home games here, including the March 2, 1962 contest between the Warriors and the Knicks, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.

The minor-league Hershey Bears used it from its opening in 1936 until 2002, when the 10,500-seat Giant Center opened next-door. It still hosts college hockey and concerts. Appropriately, the address of the Arena is 100 W. Hershey Park Drive.

No college football rivalry has been played more than Lafayette College and Lehigh University, separated by 17 miles of U.S. Route 22 in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette is in Easton, 69 miles north of Center City; Lehigh is in Bethlehem, 56 miles north. On occasion, they've played each other twice and, during World War II, even 3 times a season. Now, they limit themselves to 1. In 2014, on the occasion of their 150th meeting, they played each other at the new Yankee Stadium, with Lafayette winning. Lehigh won last year, but Lafayette leads the series, 78-68-5.

Lehigh's Goodman Stadium hosted a U.S. soccer game on October 23, 1993, a draw vs. Ukraine -- although I doubt too many people in the Delaware Valley were paying attention, as that was the day of Game 6 of the World Series, which the Phillies lost to the Toronto Blue Jays on the Joe Carter home run.

Believe it or not, it's easier to reach both Easton and Bethlehem without a car from New York than it is from Philadelphia: Transbridge Lines runs buses from Port Authority into the Lehigh Valley, and Susquehanna Trailways runs them from Philly's Greyhound Terminal at 1001 N. Filbert Street, across from the Market East Station.

Once upon a time, Central Pennsylvania was home to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which coach Glenn "Pop" Warner and running back Jim Thorpe led to upsets of Harvard (18-15) in 1911 and Army (27-6) at West Point in 1912. Ironically, in 1918, the Army bought the school, land and buildings, and it's now the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. 950 Soldiers Drive, in Carlisle, 122 miles west of Center City Philadelphia and 17 miles west of Harrisburg.

Not surprisingly for a city of its size, Philadelphia has had a few TV shows set there, but not many actually filmed there. Boy Meets World was filmed entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. (Its sequel series, Girl Meets World, featuring Cory & Topanga Matthews and their kids, is set in New York.) Neither does It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia film in Philly -- and it is not always sunny there. Nor did Thirtysomething film there. Nor did Body of Proof. And, being a cartoon, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids didn't have to "film" anywhere.

The 1960s flashback series American Dreams did some filming under the Market Street Elevated Line, but most of it was filmed in L.A. The films PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia Story and The Philadelphia Experiment had a few Philly locations put in, but all filming was done in Southern California. For chronological reasons, the film version of the musical 1776 couldn't be filmed on the streets of Philadelphia, or even inside Independence Hall -- although National Treasure used the Hall, and the Franklin Institute, and the Reading Terminal Market.

Probably the best-known film set in the city is Trading Places -- except a lot of it was filmed in and around New York! The New York Chamber of Commerce Building (65 Liberty Street) and the Seventh Regiment Armory (643 Park Avenue) stood in for the Heritage Club. Mill Neck Manor for the Deaf on Long Island stood in for the Duke Brothers' estate. And, of course, the climactic scene was set at the New York Mercantile Exchange, at 4 World Trade Center, which was at destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. Locations in the film that were absolutely in Philly were: 30th Street Station; Duke & Duke, at Fidelity Bank at 135 S. Broad Street, 2 blocks south of City Hall; and Lewis Winthorpe's residence, with exterior shots at 2014 Delancey Place at 20th Street, near Rittenhouse Square, which is where Eddie Murphy pretended to be a blind, legless Vietnam veteran. (This is a private residence: Walk down there if you like, but leave the residents alone.)


So, to sum up, I would definitely recommend to any soccer fan, even a Red Bulls fan, that they take in a Philadelphia Union game at Talen Energy Stadium. It may be the best MLS stadium, or, at least (since Seattle's and Portland's stadiums were built for other sports), the best soccer-specific stadium in the country. You should be able to enjoy yourselves -- even if the home fans aren't always nice.