April 24th, 2003 – The day we saw Chase Utley hit a grand slam for his first major league hit. Destiny is a strong word, but after that moment Chase Utley was destine to become a star, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. Although Chase wasn’t the most talented player on the field, you could see that he played every moment to his fullest. This post isn’t about a trade for Manny Machado, or Josh Donaldson. This is simply about what Chase Utley means the entire city of Philadelphia, and I.
Yesterday was a sad day for me as I saw my childhood hero announce that he would be retiring at the end of the 2018 MLB season. Chase Utley has spent the last three+ years with Dodgers after being traded by the Phillies to start their respected rebuild. The last three years we have seen Chase play a limited role as mostly a bench player. I guess it’s not a surprise to see Chase retire, but I never really thought about the day coming… if that makes sense. He’s just a player I thought would never see just call it quits.
Growing up as a kid right outside of Philly, I saw Chase as more than just a baseball player. Chase was always that guy I wanted to be like, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. “I never want to look in the mirror and say, ‘What if? What if I ran harder? What if I had dived for that groundball?'” this is a quote from Chase that always stuck with me. No one in baseball played the game harder, and no one cared more. You never saw Chase make a bad play from not hustling. Utley was that type of person to motivate people for the better, he was a guy you didn’t want to disappoint.
Everything about the guy is perfect, from his walk up song being Kashmir, to his home run trot/run, but the trait that was the best had to be his swing. Nothing was better than the short swing of Utley ripping the ball into the gap for a double. Harry Kalas (may he rest in peace) said it best on August 9th of 2006, “Chase Utley, You Are The Man!” This came after Chase lined a bases clearing double against the Atlanta Braves and then eventually scored on a routine ground ball hit by Ryan Howard. In baseball you see a lot of freak plays, but scoring from second on a ground ball hit to the pitcher is unheard of.
Now we get to Utley in the playoffs. He played 43 playoff games for the Phillies, batted .268 with an on base percentage of .406. With those numbers he also racked up 10 home runs (including two in the 2008 World Series). Utley was always steady and reliable, Harry Kalas called Chase the “rock and glue” of the 2008 Phillie team, which emphatically he was.
Chase Utley is what Philadelphia is all about; hard worker, leads by both example and words, as well as being built tough. Utley is currently eighth on the list of MLB players getting hit by pitches, and to me that is surprising he’s that low. Utley took the 201 pitches (and counting) with pride, and that’s what Philly is about. Taking our lumps and brushing them off.
Closing, the Phillies play the Dodgers on July 23rd-25th. It will be Utley’s last time playing in Philadelphia. I already bought my tickets, and I urge you to come out and cheer on one of the greatest athletes to ever play in the city of Philadelphia. Here is a direct link to buy tickets for the Dodgers series.
After all, we are World F**king Champions!
Currently a junior at Penn State. Broadcast Journalism Major. Processor enthusiast, Carson Wentz is my dad.