10 times Philly fans fell in love with Chooch

10 times Philly fans fell in love with Chooch

You loved Chooch. I loved Chooch. All of Philadelphia loved Chooch.

He was the most lovable Phillie on a team full of World Champions — the first team of World Champions that many in this city have ever known. So he'll always hold a special place in our hearts.

Carlos Ruiz is returning to Philadelphia tonight with the Seattle Mariners to play his beloved Phillies once again. And much like we did with the "26 times Chase Utley was The Man" when Chase returned, we put together a short list of 10 times we all fell in love with Chooch.

Here they are in no particular order.

1. Roy Halladay’s love of Chooch and that adorable pillow

Everybody loved Chooch in Philly but perhaps nobody more than his battery mates. Roy Halladay loved him so much he wanted to bring him home and he did at one point in the form of a pillow.

Doc also wrote a touching letter about Chooch when he got traded to the Dodgers, calling him the "little engine that could."

2. Dinker hit in Game 3 of 2008 World Series

This is one of my personal favorite Chooch memories. I was at my first World Series game sitting along the first base line and can still see Chooch’s little dinker that set off a wild eruption in the stands.

3. The play on Roy’s no-hitter against the Reds

Another Chooch moment I was lucky to be at. Ruiz actually had to make a pretty tough play on a dinker in front of the plate to secure the no-no. He made it look easy.

4. Ice Cream for Chooch 

There was even once a whole website dedicated to the idea that Chooch simply deserved some ice cream after a great play. I'm excited for the day when somebody does an oral history of the ice cream for Chooch meme. I believe it started with The Fightins' crew (RIP). 

5. "The Good One"

There are countless Chooch memories but none told better than the one by the guy who covered his entire career in Philadelphia, CSNPhilly's Jim Salisbury. When Chooch was traded to the Dodgers, Sully wrote a wonderful piece that used the clinching moment of the World Series to tell the story of Chooch giving Philadelphia his "good one." It's worth another read today.

6. Chooch steals the show in Gary Smith's Sports Illustrated cover story on the 4 Aces

Remember the 4 Aces? Oh how spoiled we were. Gary Smith wrote those fantastic cover stories for SI about the pitchers but it was Chooch who made us fall in love with him even more.

He lowers his backside like an emperor settling onto an invisible throne, imitating Howard's setup in the batter's box, then points the end of Howard's bat at an imaginary pitcher, sighting on his prey like Howie does. Only now Chooch begins tilting his head and squinting, trying to see around Howard's big black war club, then yelps, "Hey! Where ees the peetcher? I can't see him!" and the whole squad's howling.

Chooch! comes a request. Do Sammy! That's coach Juan Samuel's nickname. Chooch flashes those big white teeth, those imp eyes and that mierda-eating grin that make every impersonation double delicious, and nails Sammy's slowwww, cool-disco-dude signals from the third base box. The boys roar. Chooch winks. Chooch, do Charlie! He takes a few shambling steps and sends his head bobbing and rolling from shoulder to shoulder, just like Manuel when the Phillies' manager is pissed and heading to the mound to separate the ball from his pitcher's hand, then drops the cherry on top: Charlie's Southern drawl strained through Chooch's Panamanian accent. Chooch, do Shane when Kuroda threw at his head in the playoffs! ... Chooch, do Cliff!

Wait a minute. He's got a dandy Cliff Lee in his repertoire, teething on his necklace and spitting it out as he peers in for the sign ... but Cliff's on the mound tonight. Nope, sorry, no way Chooch will imitate someone he's about to become.

"WHEN I am catching," says Chooch, "it is not two people out there—a pitcher and a catcher. It is one person. It is my fault if something goes wrong. Whatever is happening to him is happening to me. One person. That means I am a different man with each pitcher."

7. Hugging Brad Lidge

There’s no better moment in Philly sports in the last few decades (if not ever) than Chooch embracing Brad Lidge as Harry Kalas tells us the Phillies are the World Champions of baseball. Never forget that one.

8. Scoring from first on Jimmy’s Goodfellas play

The Goodfellas meme certainly helped cement this moment which was mostly J-Rolls moment but let’s not forget Chooch trucking around the base paths to score the winning run.

9. The way Chooch said goodbye

Not only did he takeout a thoughtful billboard on 95 to thank the fans, he also left his teammates an adorable message on the clubhouse whiteboard. The way he signed it melts hearts.

10. Chooch’s impeccable style

Not only would he rock the Godfather suit on the team airplane but he’d also give his teammates cowboys hats just because.

Welcome home, Chooch. We hope your trip is a good one.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot this: 

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

It was great to be back at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday and take in an Eagles practice, even if it was non-contact. There’s a lot of buzz around the team right now, and minimal time to cover everything, so let’s dive into some of the storylines that slipped through the cracks during the first week of OTAs.

The thought that the Eagles are secretly fuming over Carson Wentz seeing a private quarterback guru seems ridiculous. It’s not uncommon for NFL players -- even quarterbacks -- to seek council during the offseason. Tom Brady did it, and I don’t recall any drama ever unfolding with the Patriots as a result of that. Perhaps some mild concern has been expressed behind closed doors, as Wentz’s mechanics are a constant work in progress, and Eagles coaches surely prefer he learn the methods they’re teaching. Then again, I highly doubt somebody earned the title of “quarterback guru” if they’re not passing along standard NFL techniques. It was an even bigger reach to suggest Doug Pederson’s displeasure over this development was on display during his press conference on Tuesday.

I’m not one to place a whole lot of stock into OTAs, but seeing rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas on the field with the first-team defense in nickel situations is a promising sign. He didn’t look out of place, either. At 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, Douglas matched up well with Alshon Jeffery. I could see his size being an asset against NFC East rivals like Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor -- bigger receivers the Eagles will face two times each this season. While performance in OTAs typically means squat, it was about this time last year when Jalen Mills began ascending the depth chart, and he wound up playing quite a bit. It’s early, but given the situation at cornerback, not at all far-fetched to anticipate a similar role coming for Douglas.

While I agree with the premise Nelson Agholor could improve and go on to have a respectable NFL career, Eagles teammate Brandon Graham isn’t really the most relatable example. It’s time for the seemingly annual reminder that Graham’s progression was derailed by a major knee injury as a rookie. He essentially missed the following season, and was buried on the depth chart upon returning. A year later, the defense switched to a 3-4, which was an adjustment as well. Yet, time and time again, Graham would perform at a high level whenever he got into games, finally earning his starting job back in 2015. Agholor has been a starter the past two seasons, and aside from a high ankle sprain his rookie year, he’s been relatively healthy. What’s the excuse here? Agholor may be a late bloomer, but Graham’s experience breaking into the league was vastly different.

The revelation that Vinny Curry was affected by a knee injury last season can be taken one of two ways. Some may see it as an excuse for his modest performance after signing a massive contract extension a year ago, which currently looks like an expensive mistake. I prefer to view the injury news as another reason to give Curry a slight pass. We’ve all seen what an explosive pass rusher he could be, racking up 9.0 sacks in 2014 while playing only one-third of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. If he was hampered by the knee -- Curry admitted wearing a brace for much of the season -- that could certainly help explain why he often seemed invisible. Even if he simply wasn’t very good, Curry has another opportunity to prove himself in 2017. Might as well take the optimistic outlook.

Mike Schmidt shows off new sunscreen dispensers at Citizens Bank Park

Mike Schmidt shows off new sunscreen dispensers at Citizens Bank Park

Phillies legend Mike Schmidt is teaming up with Mayor Kenney, the city of Philadelphia, Independence Blue Cross, and the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation to help protect you from the sun's harmful rays.

As part of the Sun Smart America initiative, the Phillies will place 12 sunscreen dispensers around Citizens Bank Park in addition to 6 dispensers located elsewhere around the city. 

This Sunday, May 28th, is also Melanoma Awareness Day at the ballpark when the Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds at 1:35. 

Schmidt will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and try to promote the importance of protecting one's skin from the sun. He knows from a trying personal experience.

"The sun almost took my life," Schmidt told the Palm Beach Post after his battle with skin cancer. He spent months going through heavy radiation and chemotherapy and is currently cancer free.

The sunscreen dispensers at the ballpark can be found at all entry gates as well as on the Rooftop, Pavillion, and Terrace levels beginning on Sunday.