PHILADELPHIA -- When is the last time you jumped down an Internet rabbit role?
We took a deep dive recently looking for Phillies players and Phillies references in movies and TV.
Why? Why not?
A few of the most recent appearances sparked this time-wasting idea: Chase Utley's love letter and cameo in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” Ryan Howard’s cameo in “Entourage” and Jimmy Rollins’ cameo in “The Cleveland Show.” But then the real search began. There have been Phillies references on TV shows like “21 Jump Street” and “The Twilight Zone.” There have been Phillies players on everything from “The Ed Sullivan Show” to “Late Night with David Letterman” to “Ellen.”
Of course, institutional knowledge is invaluable here, so I asked former Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler and former Phillies vice president of communications Larry Shenk for help. Thankfully, they obliged.
Here is what we found (Yes, I’m certain we missed a bunch. Email me and let me know):
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny is listed first because it is the best love letter to the Phillies in pop culture.
Rob McElhenney’s character Mac wrote that unforgettable letter to Utley in “The World Series Defense” episode (2009). McElhenney discussed the idea for it in 2010.
Utley later made a cameo alongside Howard in the “The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods” (2010). He eventually wrote a letter back to Mac, too.
Then there is a Christmas episode when Mac and Charlie are looking for a toy on Christmas Eve. “You’re telling me that if Mike Schmidt were to walk in here right now and say, ‘Hey, get me a Redman the Robot,’ you’d say, ‘I’m sorry, we’re all out. We’re sold out, Mike?’”
“Who is Mike Schmidt?” the worker replied.
It set an entire episode at Veterans Stadium in “The Lost Boy” (2015). It made numerous other Phillies references over the years, too. They even made a bedazzled Mike Schmidt jersey, which Schmidt wore last month when he announced Bryce Harper as the 2021 NL MVP. Schmidt played himself in the “The Opportunity of a Lifetime” (2018).
Then there is Ruben Amaro Jr., who played his father in two episodes in 2018.
Amaro also played his dad in a 2019 episode of “Schooled."
In “Emission Impossible” in 2001, Stewie is reading the newspaper in a quiet living room. He breaks the silence.
“Well, the Phillies won.”
The Dudley Do-Right Show
The narrator previews an episode (air date is unknown) called “Dog Team” by saying, “Dog Team. What most Canadians use in the winter, and what some people call the Philadelphia Phillies.”
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011
In a post-credit scene, Steve Rogers wakes up in a hospital bed to a Phillies-Dodgers game on the radio. Rogers realizes it is not 1944 anymore because it is a rebroadcast of a game he attended in 1941.
The Phillies finished 43-111-1 that season. So, of course, they lost the game in the movie.
There are several Phillies references, including the appearance of a Mike Lieberthal bobblehead. Howard made a cameo in “Promos” (2013).
The Cleveland Show
Rollins played himself in “California Dreamin’ (All the Cleves Are Brown)” (2013).
The show stars David Boreanez, who is the son of former 6 ABC weatherman Dave Roberts. There are occasional Phillies references on the show.
Brad Pitt plays Billy Beane, who makes a totally unrealistic phone call to Ed Wade to spark the Jeremy Giambi trade in 2002. Also completely unrealistic, Beane going to Cleveland’s actual ballpark to make a trade with the Indians.
Howard made a cameo in “Lose Yourself” (2010).
Summer Catch (2001)
Pat Burrell, Doug Glanville and Lieberthal make cameos in the movie produced by Philadelphia’s Mike Tollin. Rollins and Ricky Bottalico are listed on iMDB with uncredited cameos. Dick Allen appears as “Scout in Black Hat.”
Tollin is a huge Allen fan. It explains why Allen later appeared in Tollin’s movie “Dreamer” (2005) as “Veteran Gambler.”
Lieberthal also made a cameo in HBO’s Arli$$ in 1996.
Married… with Children
In “Just Shoe It” (1992), Al Bundy, played by Ed O’Neill, shoots a commercial with Steve Carlton and other sports legends. Before the camera rolls, Bundy’s wife, Peggy, is pried from Carlton’s leg. Bundy then tells Carlton he should not be embarrassed shooting the scene -- Carlton is pitching to Bundy -- considering Lefty has not pitched in years, while Bundy remains an active softball player.
“Don’t worry about looking bad,” Bundy said. “Because the camera will be on me.”
“I’m sure your heart is as big as the ball you play with,” Carlton replied.
Unbeknownst to Bundy, the script calls for him to be drilled in the head by Carlton. Kelly Bundy, played by Christina Applegate, asks Carlton to sign the ball that hit her father in the head, “To the late Al Bundy.”
Roger McDowell pitched for the Phillies from 1989-91 before he appeared in the legendary “The Boyfriend” (1992). It was the episode featuring “the magic loogy” in which McDowell, in a flashback to when he was a Mets reliever, is found to have spit on Kramer and Newman outside Shea Stadium.
21 Jump Street
In “Rounding Third” (1990), Officer Doug Penhall, played by Peter DeLuise, is coaching a youth baseball team. He suspects a father of one of the players of having kidnapped his son. Penhall approaches the father after a game, trying to learn more about him. He offers him an assistant coaching job to gauge his reaction.
“I got this third base coach,” Penhall says, “and she roots for the Philadelphia Phillies because she thinks the mascot is funny. I could really use a good assistant coach.”
The Twilight Zone
In “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” (1955), the late Don Rickles plays a loudmouth gambler on a cold streak. Early in the episode, he gets into a shouting match with his bookie. “All I can say is if anybody can tell me that the Philadelphia Phillies deserve winning the pennant that year, they’re out of their green-grass minds,” he said.
No doubt the gambler is talking about the 1950 Whiz Kids. Rickles’ character later grabs a patron at the bar, played by Burgess Meredith, and said, “What did you think of the Phillies of 1953?”
A moment later, the conversation continued.
“In other words, you’re telling me, that you thought Robin Roberts had more stuff than Clem Labine?” Rickles said.
Meredith’s character said Roberts had better stuff than Labine. Offended, Rickles punched out Meredith. (This is before Meredith became a famous Philadelphia-based boxing trainer.)
No wonder Rickles’ character was a loser. Roberts went 286-245 with a 3.41 ERA in his 19-year career. He finished with an 86.1 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, and made the Hall of Fame. Labine went 77-56 with a 3.63 ERA and 94 saves in a 13-year career. He finished with a 12.3 WAR.
Boy Meets World
In the 1993 pilot episode, Ben Savage’s character Cory Matthews is given detention for listening to a Phillies game in class.
Schmidt, Rollins, Howard, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and others appeared on Letterman’s NBC and CBS shows over the years. You know you’ve lived a great life when you don’t remember much about it.
Uecker is a Milwaukee guy, but he played for the Phillies from 1966-67. Most famously, he played Harry Doyle in Major League (1989) and starred in TVs “Mr. Belvedere” (1985-90). Uecker also appeared in numerous Miller Lite commercials, “Who’s the Boss?” (1986), D.C. Follies (1987), Fatal Instinct (1993), Futurama (2002) and Puppy Dog Pals (2017). (Andrew McCutchen appeared in an episode of Puppy Dog Pals in 2021.)
Uecker hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1984. According to iMDB, he appeared on “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson 62 times from 1970-91. He appeared on The Merv Griffin Show (1970), The David Frost Show (1970), The Mike Douglas Show (1971 and 1973), The New Hollywood Squares (1986) and Wrestlemania III and IV and other WWE shows and events.
McCarver caught for the Phillies from 1970-72 and 1975-80 before he took a turn as a Phillies broadcaster. McCarver appeared in “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” in 1988. Jay Johnstone, who played for the Phillies from 1974-78, appears in the movie.
McCarver appeared in “Love Hurts” (1990), “Mr. Baseball” (1992), “The Scout” (1994), “BASEketball” (1998), “Fever Pitch” (2005) and “Moneyball” (2011). He appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (1964), “Late Night with David Letterman” (1987) and “The Pat Sajak Show” (1989). He even appeared on two episodes of “Sesame Street,” first reporting on the Worm Winter Games in Squiggleville, France, then the Worm Summer Games
Kruk’s character Lanz gets killed by Robert De Niro’s character in 1996’s “The Fan,” which is an awesome career highlight. Kruk also appeared in “The Sandlot: Heading Home” (1997), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (2008), Ring the Bell (2013) and Family Guy (2018).
He appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” (1955) and “What’s My Line?” (1957).
He appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1957 and 1964.
Everybody remembers Anderson from his 1959 season with the Phillies, right? Or maybe it’s his Hall of Fame managerial career with the Reds and Tigers. Regardless, Anderson appeared on “WKRP in Cincinnati” (1979), “The White Shadow” (1980), “Tiger Town” (1983) and “Arli$$” (2001).
The Phanatic appeared in the closing credits of Rocky Balboa (2006), The Simpsons (when he greeted the first European settlers in an episode), The Goldbergs, 30 Rock and other TV shows. And, according to iMDB, there is a “Baseball Bunch” reboot in development!