Monday, October 16, 2023

Evolution of the DPF Garage

    This is the story of how the DPF Garage evolved. It isn't going to start or end exactly where you think. I grew up in Oxford Circle in Northeast Philly. Blocks of rowhomes, where on any given summer night, neighbors would be out on their porch or minimal grass listening to the radio, sitting on braided lawn chairs while having a beverage of their choice, and listening to the Phillies. Some ingenious people would have a long electric cord and bring a TV out to watch the game. In my pre-teen mind, this is something I loved. My own little space to enjoy the game.

    In 1983 my parents rehabbed the basement into a rec room. Gone was the garage and its sliding door, with only a small space for my Dad's workbench and tools that had its own door, separate from the wood-paneled rec room. I brought an old radio into that room and listened to the Phils games alone most time. This is where the glint of the DPF Garage began. 

    As I entered drinking age and then legal drinking age, my neighborhood had bars/pubs scattered throughout. My place to go and watch games became Heron's on the corners of Summerdale and Oxford. Our Dad's went there and then the sons and daughters followed. I loved the Phillies chatter before, during and after the game. Combine that with 60-cent frosted mugs and I was in heaven. I believe this is where DPF itself started.

    The bar or pub was my place of choice to take in games for much of my early to mid-20s. Around this time I moved to Glenside and Union Jack's was my new Heron's. I can recall wanting something of my own. Something like my Dad's small tool garage room to enjoy the game instead of always going out. Now I can't recall if I bought this at Caldor or Clover, but I know it was an outdoor gazebo complete with mosquito netting. I set this up in my backyard to enjoy the Phils games and drink. I dubbed this structure "The Boozebo" and it was well-known in Upper Dublin and Glenside for being a great place to talk or listen to the Phils and have some drinks during the Spring and Summer. The Boozebo was ruined by a storm, another one erected and it also fell to the same fate. I was close to what I wanted, but not there yet.

    This is where the current garage in Fox Chase came into the picture. It is a 2-story detached garage that for years was filled with old furniture, tools, a mammoth gas snow blower, and other assorted odds and ends. Well, I purged a bunch and then moved all the items to one side of the garage and that is where the DPF Garage was born. Me sitting on a tailgate chair with an old-time radio sitting on a re-purposed old kitchen counter and listened to games. To say I was in heaven would be an understatement. However, I wasn't satisfied and wanted more.

    The DPF Garage as we now know it was ready for Opening Day 2023. In January, I moved all the tools and assorted items to the 2nd floor. A bar was built, the backbone of the garage. Pallet and barn wood were put on the walls. The floor was epoxied, a cinder block wall painted Phillies maroon, a TV hung, and then the Edison light stapled to the exposed rafters of the garage. The old-time radio still had its rightful place in the DPF Garage. I acquired a kegerator, re-purposed an old house fridge as a beer fridge, and bought stools and minimal decor for the wood walls.

    I finally had my only space to enjoy the game. However, I missed the camaraderie of fellow Phils fans and friends. This is where the DPF Garage excels. It is filled with awesome people for many games. People who share my love and passion for the Phillies/ I have been a lifetime Phillies fan and I can honestly say that if I am not at the game, there is nowhere else in the world that I want to watch or listen to the Phils. I think if you have been at the DPF Garage, you would agree. 




Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Philly. Proud.

Trea Turner's message to the fans.

What happened this past weekend? Has Philadelphia gone softer than a pretzel floating in the Schuylkill? Are we going to start saying "waht-er" now? Will we put flowers in the hands of the Rocky statue?

Fuck no, and youse are fuckin' nuts if youse think so. We just had a moment of understanding. A moment of, dare we say, clarity? You might have heard of the standing ovation that rocked the world. The baseball world, at least. 

The Phillies had just gone 4-3 on a quick, 7-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Miami. Sounds respectable, right? Well, after losing two of three to a Pirates team that started the series 12 games under .500, the Phils bounced back to take three of four from the Marlins in Miami. Losing two to Pittsburgh is unforgivable, but the lone loss in Miami is what stung the most: an extra-inning clunker in which the Phils bullpen blew save opportunities in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. The game, and potential sweep of a division/wildcard rival, belonged to the Phillies. Except... 

With two out in the bottom of the 10th, Trea Turner missed a routine grounder that allowed backup Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings (a 6'5", 225-pound ghost runner) to score from second to tie it at 8-8 after Alec Bohm knocked in Rudolfo Castro to give the Phils their second extra-inning lead, 8-7. A 1-2-3 top of the 12th by the Phillies paved the way for the Marlins' 9-8 victory.

After the game, Turner offered no excuses and accepted responsibility for his poor play - something he has had to do far too frequently during the first of an 11-year, $300 million contract. Over the road trip, Turner hit 3-29 with 7 strikeouts and made his 13th fielding error of the season, which ties for second-most in his career. 

Rob Thomson has tried dropping Turner down in the lineup, given him days off, and even benched the superstar - all in hopes of providing a jump start. Nothing seemed to work. After the loss in Miami, fans back in Philly began to whisper... 

Maybe the boos and insults aren't working, either. Maybe we, as a fanbase, need to show our support. Maybe that will help Turner break out of this funk...

While credit has been given to WIP host Jack Fritz for the idea, it appears that several Phillies fans tossed around the notion of giving Trea a standing ovation when he returned to Citizens Bank Park. The fans in Philly are so genuine, so knowledgeable, and so passionate, that maybe if we take Turner into our embrace and wrap him in positivity, he'll start to feel better. If he feels better, perhaps he'll play better. If he plays better, perhaps the Phillies won't lose to the fucking Pirates or blow three saves in one game.

But why would we cheer for a man making $300 million? Why would we tell him it's all going to be ok? What the fuck is this world coming to? We didn't tell Ben or Carson that all was going to be ok. That's not our style. We hold our professional athletes to account, dammit! We spend our hard-earned, blue-collar dollars to watch these "professionals" win games. We don't care about their feelings. But, maybe we should.

Trea Turner has sucked this year. We already told him so, and he's already admitted it. And that's what separates him from our love/hate relationships with certain athletes in the past: He owns it. He wears it, just as he wears that "Philadelphia" across his chest. And if there's one thing about Philly, it's...

Philadelphians love Philly. We love who we are and we don't apologize. We love our sports franchises because they represent us. Anyone who wears our city across their chest will be loved as well. We only ask that athletes take as much pride in being here as we do. They do that by working hard, owning their mistakes, and fighting for each other no matter what. 

So Turner got his ovation. Despite all the arguing on sports talk radio, where callers lamented participation trophies and Barbie movies and PC culture and... despite all that, the fans in attendance for the Phillies-Royals game last Friday, August 4, 2023, did something that defied all logic, all that is known about Philadelphians: when Trea Turner came to the plate with 1 out in the bottom of the 2nd inning, the fans stood and applauded. They told him "You're our guy. You're one of us. We got your back." 

Turner lined out. Each time he stepped to the plate, Phillies fans cheered. In the bottom of the 6th, Turner singled to drive in Bryson Stott. Phillies fans cheered. The Phils ultimately lost the game to a terrible Royals team, but the fans won by doing the exact opposite of what everyone outside Philly, and many of those within, expected. Expects. From Philly fans.

"That was pretty fucking cool." Trea's reaction sums up how the standing ovation felt. After the game, Turner said the fans "have my back... wish we could have come out with a win." Turner's mother, who was in attendance, said she was so touched by the gesture, she cried. She also admitted to booing her son earlier in the season. 

Turner's double play partner, Bryson Stott loved the fan ovation too. "This is Philadelphia. This is why we love playing here."

Bryce Harper took it even further. During a postgame interview following Sunday's 8-4 win over KC, Harper went on for more than a minute about what playing in Philadelphia means to him: 

"I wish I started my career here."

Bryce gets it. The young Stott gets it. And now, Trea Turner gets it: just how special it is to be a professional athlete in the City of Philadelphia. Make us proud, Trea. Do your job, we'll do ours, and we'll walk together forever. Just ask Nick Foles. 

Ain't nothin' soft about that!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Honoring Connie Mack's Grave


     Baseball is a huge part of my life. Being a Phillies fan means that a lot of my life has been a disappointment in terms of rooting for a successful team. The Philadelphia Athletics have been gone from our city for almost 70 years, yet they may still be the more successful franchise overall. I consider myself a student of the game and particularly love pre-war era baseball. Philadelphia has a rich history in terms of the advent of modern baseball, with Cornelius McGillicuddy being at the forefront of Philadelphia baseball.

    Connie Mack played 11 seasons in the majors. He was a catcher who was known as a smart player who did not do anything particularly well as a player. Mack then managed the minor league Milwaukee Brewers from 1897-1900. It was in 1901 when Connie became manager, treasurer, and part-owner of the Philadelphia Athletics. He managed there through the 1950 season and compiled a 3,582–3,814 (.484) record when he retired at 87. Mack won nine pennants and appeared in eight World Series, winning five.
    Mack's legacy as part of Philadelphia lore is untouchable. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. Shibe Park was renamed to Connie Mack Stadium in 1953. It was the Phillies' home ballpark from 1938 through the 1970 season. 

    This brings us to why and how we came across Connie Mack's grave and decided to bring it back to beauty. David and his Dad have family buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham, PA. David reached out to his friend Chris H. about the state of the grave and wondered what could be done about it.
Chris H. contacted me and I posted information about our intentions on our social media pages. Ed was the first to reach back out. Ed has experience in cleaning military graves and would make sure we are doing the right things to preserve the stone. Brian also reached out and offered some non-toxic chemicals from the company he works for that are made specifically for Mold, Mildew, and Stone/Granite. I also asked Chris D. fellow DPF admin if he was available and interested to help. I am also Chris, Chris N, so there were a lot of Chris/s helping!

    Ed went out earlier in the month to do a test spot and it came out great. Ed then ordered all the products that we would need to do the cleaning. David tried to contact the Phillies, Athletics and any surviving members of the Mack family. He heard nothing back, so we took it into our own hands and decided to get together at 11am on June 11th to clean the stone ourselves. David did receive permission from the cemetery for us to clean the stone. 

    The major issue was we had NO access to running water. This was a hurdle we overcame by each guy pitching in and bringing around 60 gallons of water. We wet down the stone and started to scrape the stone to free up the moss that had accumulated. We then sprayed down the stone and using nylon brushes on our cordless drills went to work getting the grime off. The total time the 6 of us spent was around 2 hours give or take.

    I am really proud of the work all of us did. It was an honor to give our respects to Mr. Mack and bring his gravestone back to the splendor it deserves. In some small way, I think each of us 6 guys felt like we had a hand in keeping Philadelphia baseball tradition alive and well. We even talked about continuing this cleaning effort for other gravestones in the area that deserve our attention. It was a truly humbling experience that I am proud to have been a part of.