Chase Utley makes his return to Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday for the first time since being traded away to the Dodgers a little less than one year ago. Todd Zolecki at MLB.com has a wonderful recap of the eight greatest moments in Utley’s Wall of Fame-caliber Phillies career, but let’s be honest. There’s one moment — perhaps the defining moment in Citizens Bank Park history — for which Utley will be best, and most fondly, remembered in Philadelphia.
“World Champions. World fucking Champions.”
Those five words encapsulate Utley’s legacy here. Sure, the big hits in the playoffs and All-Star-caliber play at second base help. Yes, the willingness to get (and play) dirty helped the Phillies go from also-rans to World Champs. We’ll never forget that. But this is what we remember.
The notoriously soft-spoken star, who would always rather let his play on the field do the talking, belted out those five famous words during the Phillies 2008 World Series post-parade celebration. If the guy wasn’t a legend in Philly already at that point, this was the moment that made him one forever.
Nearly eight years later, this is still the only indelible moment from that rally.
Anyone who was at the 2008 Phillies World Series parade undoubtedly has a distinct view of the floats and the confetti and the fans and the Phanatic embedded in their memories. But with stadium tickets at a premium, most who made it to the parade were forced to scuttle home in time to see the rest of festivities on television.
Others spoke. Charlie Manuel probably said something folksy in his unintelligibly charming (or charmingly unintelligible) way. Jimmy Rollins was as smooth as he’s ever been, for sure. Pat Burrell brought his dog with him, Brad Lidge brought his earnestness and Harry Kalas emceed the event like a proud dad giving a toast at his only child’s wedding. Other people probably spoke too, I don’t know. And neither do you, because all we really remember is a California kid in a winter cap on a Halloween afternoon saying what all of us felt. The Phillies were world fucking champions.
What’s funniest about this moment, though, is not that we forget everyone else’s speech, it’s that we (read: I) forget that Utley said other words after the ovation subsided. It was the best drop-the-mic moment in team history, yet Utley didn’t actually drop the mic.
“I want to say thank you to everybody in the stands today and that came out throughout the course of the season,” Utley continued. “Without you, we would not be in this position.”
“And I want to say thank you to everybody on this stage. Everybody had a role in winning this year, and I’m proud of every single one of you. Thanks again.”
When Kalas got back to the mic, he reiterated Utley’s comment about teamwork. “I think what Chase last said is so true,” Kalas echoed. And dammit if we all didn’t wish Harry dropped an f-bomb then too. Or at least a “Chase Utley…you are the man.”
Utley played 1,597 games for the Phillies and had too many big hits, hustle plays and web gems to count. As Philly fans honor his return with Los Angeles this week, it’s fun to remember that one of the most memorable moments in Citizens Bank Park history — heck, Philly sports history — happened with a microphone, not a glove, or a bat.