Philly fans are known as some of the passionate in the world, but who amongst us are the best? In no particular order, here are the top five Philly fans.
Flyers "Sign Man" - The only fan on this list that is actually in his sport's hall of fame is the Flyers' "sign man" Dave Leonardi.
Over the years, "Sign Man" has taken his place in Flyers lore. In a Hockey Hall of Fame "time capsule" for notable characters from the 1970s, Leonardi is mentioned with Derek Sanderson, Dave "Tiger" Williams, Don Cherry and Peter Puck. Impressive company, indeed…
Leonardi has been going to Flyers games and displaying his signs since 1972. He brings about a hundred to every game and has become so well known that even the great Bobby Orr recognized him. He's become such a fixture at Flyers games, "Sign Man" is as much a part of the building as the ice.
His day is job is as a history and geography teacher.
Everybody Hits! Wha Whoo! - It's no coincidence that at least once a year every Phillies blog will at one point use this as a headline. It's the cheer made famous by Brad Golden, who would wear a shirt with the same phrase every night the Phillies played at Veterans Stadium. He didn't coin the phrase -- it was something that an older guy would say at Phillies games years before -- but Golden made it famous. He got so well known in section 224 that when he yelled "Everybody Hits!" the rest of the section would reply with "Wha Whoo."
While he's not in the baseball Hall of Fame, Golden was immortalized by none other than Harry Kalas as the great Phillies announcer took his place in Cooperstown.
Kalas immortalized Golden when he made his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in Cooperstown, N.Y., last July. Kalas wrote a poem to Phillies fans for the occasion, and two of the lines read:
"You give the opposing pitcher fits.
"Because as one loyalist shouts, 'Everybody hits.' "
The Sons Of Ben - This isn't one person and their team has only existed for less than a year, but the Sons of Ben are deserving of being on this list as a single entity. Actually, the Sons of Ben predate the actual club they support. The Sons were founded in 2007(on Ben Franklin's birthday), a full three years before the Union debuted and two years before Philadelphia was even awarded the team. They took over the MLS draft demanding their own team and mocked the New York and Washington DC teams a year before the Philadelphia team even existed. In fact, they'd become so notorious that even before the team existed, newspapers in soccer mad England were writing about them. The group was formed with the express purpose of drawing a pro soccer club to Philadelphia and they succeeded.
That's the thing that makes the SOBs so great. They're loud, they're boisterous, they're committed, and they're very well organized. The Sons have been consulted by the Union ownership about ways to improve fan experiences at the game, they got their own section of PPL Park, and they're active in charity efforts raising thousands of dollars to fight hunger in Chester where the team plays. They don't stop singing and chanting during a game and they're the main reason you have to get yourself to a Union game this year.
Dancin' Shawny - If you've been to a Flyers game in the past couple years, you've probably seen Shawn Hill. He sits in the last row at the top of the arena, he wears orange, and... he dances. Oh does he dance...
The crowd loves the guy, and as The 700 Level pointed out he takes his job as an entertainer seriously.
I’m actually like a player. I played hockey for so many years, so during the pre-game videos and stuff I’m like bouncing around with my "game face" on. I absorb the energy in the building so that I’m ready to give my all as a fan as the puck drops.
Eagle Joe - I said I didn't want to number this list... but screw it. Eagle Joe is No. 1. His full name is Joe Borden, he's 60 years old and works at a grocery store. For the last 35 years he's spent his entire vacation at Eagles training camp in Lehigh. If you've been to camp you may have noticed on the sidelines over the years decked out in Eagles paraphernalia from head to toe. Buddy Ryan first allowed him on the sidelines and every Eagles coach since then has done the same.
In 2007, Eagle Joe became legally blind and wrote a letter to Andy Reid asking if he could volunteer for the team so he could be allowed to stay with the team since he could no longer drive. The Eagles did him one better: They started sending a limo to his home in Exton, Penn., to pick him up for camp. Classy move from the Eagles for maybe their greatest fan.