Philadelphia sports—anchored by the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, and 76ers—have a long, and sometimes tortured, history. Philly fans have booed more than their share and have earned a reputation as some of the most hostile in the country. They’ve been known, so the tales go, to jeer Santa Claus and cheer at the injury of an opposing player.
Strangely though, much of America’s perception of Philadelphia sports has been shaped by a fictional figure: Rocky. The series of Hollywood films named after their title character has told and retold the Cinderella story of an underdog boxer rising up against long odds. One could plausibly make the argument that Rocky is Philadelphia’s most famous athlete.
Beyond the major sports franchises and Rocky, lesser-known athletic competition in Philadelphia offers much to the interested observer. The city’s boxing culture, influence on Negro Leagues baseball, role in establishing interscholastic sport, and leadership in the rise of cricket all deserve and receive close investigation in this new collection. Philly Sports combines primary research and personal experiences—playing in the Palestra, scouting out the tombstones of the city’s best athletes, enjoying the fervor of a Philadelphia night with a local team in pursuit of a championship title. The essence of Philadelphia sport, and to a certain extent the city itself, is distilled here.