Becoming “phanatic” for the Philadelphia Phillies

A student describes their complicated relationship with baseball and how they’ve learned to embrace their love for the Philadelphia Phillies.


Over the summer, I became something I never thought possible: an avid fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.  

My love for baseball began when I played Little League in my neighborhood, even though I was inarguably one of the worst players on the team. I aged out of the sport when I turned 10 and lost interest in pursuing it. That’s where my fond memories of baseball end.  

Throughout middle school, I wanted to be as feminine as possible. I knew I was gay, though I admitted it to only my friends at the time, so I deeply desired to manipulate my interests.  

I believed all sports were displays of brute masculinity. Even baseball, though far less violent than football, looked like a battle of who could throw and hit the farthest. I pursued things I thought every other feminine kid should. I became obsessed with musical theater, listened to Lana Del Rey and had a Tumblr account.   

I still went to baseball games occasionally and each time I was reminded briefly why I loved the sport. Though I didn’t understand the game the way I do now, I still admired the bonds that came from it. Like when I sat in the 300 level during a middle school field trip, but flirted with the boy next to me instead of watching the team. 

The last game I went to with my family was in June 2023 for my uncle’s bachelor party. No pitch was ever thrown, because it was canceled after three hours of downpour. It was the first day I remember feeling fulfilled by baseball again.  

Because it was a bachelor party, the only company I had was my dad, his three brothers and their longtime friends. We huddled together while it rained, talking about their childhood antics while they spit chewing tobacco in their Coke cans.  

I was able to understand my father’s family through the conversation. Before that game, we only talked during family holidays. Seeing them in a relaxed setting, away from the confines of family, they were free to express themselves. Without the Phillies and that rain, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten that opportunity.   

My interest in baseball was reignited after Rob Thomson was hired as the Phillies manager in 2022. Under his leadership, the Phillies overcame their recent lackluster reputation and went to the World Series, then finished just shy of being champions of the National League in 2023.  

It felt like an awakening for not only me but all Philadelphia sports fans. Something I’ve always admired about teams in Philadelphia are their loyal fan bases. As a Philadelphia resident, I’ve noticed it forever. There were physical representations of the communal love everywhere I looked, like my bus stop on Broad Street that got shattered after Eagles fans climbed it after they won the NFC Championship in 2023.

I watched as Temple students from other states witnessed their first Philadelphia sports triumph when the Eagles played in Super Bowl LVII. I also watched as they posted words of disappointment after their loss despite being from a midwestern suburb. 

Seeing new Philadelphians feel such passion for the Eagles’ loss struck me because sports are so much more than expressing masculinity. They’re a symbol of pride and the love Philadelphians have for our city and the hope we have for it.  

I’ve always appreciated the power of athletics from a distance but was apprehensive to follow sports because they always came with a connotation of manliness. Thinking about them reminded me of the jocks in middle school that were opposite my self-expression, and following similar interests to them turned me off completely.  

Even during the 2022 World Series, I didn’t watch any of the games. I wanted to be more invested so I could be in touch with the same joy that flooded the city, but I didn’t have friends that cared about the World Series, or any sport for that matter.  

This summer, one of my longtime friends picked up an obsession with the Phillies. She dragged me to games on a biweekly basis and her fanatic energy was infectious. The first game we went to, I was in the dark about the team, but my friend was so filled with love for the players that I knew I finally had someone to share the Phillies with.

We text each other reactions to nearly every play and call each other about our hatred for Seranthony Dominguez and Taijuan Walker. We frantically messaged back and forth over an injury scare with Ranger Suarez and the muscle strains of Brandon Marsh and Trea Turner. 

From the countless baseball games I’ve seen, I also learned to appreciate how delicate the sport is. The pitchers perform calculated choreography to strike out batters. Outfielders slice through the grass like ballet dancers. The players interact and their connections feel like that of childhood friends. 

On the field and in the dugout, there was never true manliness to be scared of. I’ve always said I would rather live in Philly than any other city, and I cannot think of a better way to demonstrate it than unleashing my passion for our sports teams.  

The Phillies season is in full swing, and I’m already saving money for Red October if we’re fortunate enough to enter the playoffs.

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