June 19, 2020
Veterans Stadium was built in 1970 on Broad and Pattison to replace the nearly 60-year-old Connie Mack Stadium (originally Shibe Park). The new, state-of-the-art arena boasted the world’s most expensive scoreboard ($3 million) and would be the first outdoor venue in Philadelphia specifically designed to host two professional sports teams. The Phillies and Eagles called the Vet home from 1971-2003.
The Phils opened the Vet with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Expos. Several faces were in the stadium that day that would go on to become Philadelphia Sports Legends, most notably starting pitcher Jim Bunning and rookie commentator Harry Kalas. It wouldn’t take long for the Vet to welcome a few more future legends to its ranks, as PA Announcer Dan Baker made his debut with the Phils during the 1972 season. Just a few years after Baker’s debut, on April 25, 1978, the iconic Phillie Phanatic was introduced to Phillies fans at the Vet. By the time the last game was played at the Vet in 2003, many of the people felt like family to Philadelphians.
During their run at the Vet, the Phils amassed 6 division titles, 3 NL Pennants, and a World Series Championship in 1980 on their way to a 2571-2646 overall record.
The Eagles, on the other hand, had a more tumultuous run during their time at the Vet. Throughout this era, the Eagles earned four division titles and made a Super Bowl appearance in 1980. As we know, they lost the Super Bowl and failed to make it past the Divisional round again until 2001. In addition, two of the four division titles during the Vet Era were in the final two years of play at the stadium.
The Birds ended this era with an overall record of 243-241-6.
Needless to say, Philadelphians had a lot of reasons to be upset with their Eagles at the time, and this constant disappointment and outrage at losing manifested itself in the minds of fans, further perpetuating the raucous reputation of Philly fans.
And it sure It didn’t help losing the final game at the Vet...an NFC Championship...
But no group of fans quite perpetuated the stereotype like those that sat in the 700 Level at the Vet. The 700 Level included some of the stadium’s cheapest seats and most belligerent fans. These fans have been described by some as “having a reputation for hostile taunting, fighting, public urination and general strangeness”...and "passionate" by others. Fans were known to get so rowdy that a jail cell was built to house fans that were a little too “passionate”. Say what you will about the 700 Level and its members, but there is no denying their spot as one of the most passionate and die-hard groups of fans in the history of professional sports.
The Vet was also home to some of the most iconic pro athletes in Philadelphia’s history. Guys like Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Curt Schilling, Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael, Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb went out there and fought for our city every game. Even some of the coaches were beloved in the city; guys like Andy Reid and Dick Vermeil can still get a free beer in Philly. It was athletes and coaches like these that allowed for such passionate fans to inhabit the Vet.
Remember Veterans Stadium with this tee designed by Philadelphia artist Scott Siano.
September 10, 2022