With spring training over a month away and the regular season still in the category of future I'd call "distant", I needed a Phillies pick-me-up today. Thankfully, meaningless internet holidays are here to save the day, and I'm pretty sure that's the first time anyone's ever non-mockingly said that about any meaningless internet holiday. Today is National Hug Day! That gave me the perfect excuse to travel down the rabbit hole of great Phillies hugs. I'm not sure there's a better pick me up than happy sports hugging.
Here's a classic, one of the greatest Phillies hugs of all time.
It starts with Tug McGraw clearly looking for someone to embrace. He delivers the pitch, Willie Wilson swings and misses and Tug jumps straight up and down, looking for a teammate to hug. It takes a few seconds before anyone gets there, and then everyone gets there at once. Someone comes behind Tug to give him a hug, and his teammates start to crowd around him, but Tug was clearly looking at Mike Schmidt running in from third base. Schmidt jumps into his arms mere nanoseconds before it turns into one of the biggest and happiest group hugs in Phillies history. There's so much to love about this clip. Pete Rose and his utterly hideous pageboy hair style (why, Pete, why?) struggling to contain his giddiness, and appearing to confuse hugging with trying to strangle someone. Dallas Green celebrating like he won the election for supreme ruler of the planet. And then there's the shot of the poor, shocked Royals in the dugout. No hugs for them. At least not happy ones. Because they lost.
These next few fall under the category of Chooch hugs, which we all know are the best.
This is from Roy Halladay's perfect game back in May 2010. Those were the days. I love that when Ronny Paulino hits that grounder to third, Halladay doesn't immediately look over to see if it was caught. He does look over, but very casually, all "Oh, you hit a ball to third? I hadn't noticed!" But he does look over to see Juan Castro (remember that guy?!) catch the ball and throw it across the diamond to Ryan Howard. And then Halladay turns to face his catcher Carlos Ruiz with open, welcoming arms. He only has eyes for Chooch, who runs up to hug his pitcher right before everyone encircles them with hugging and jumping and vigorous head patting.
The last pitch of Halladay's perfecto was a walk in the park compared to the mini-drama that unfolded during the last pitch of his postseason no-hitter in October 2010. It's been 5 1/2 years and I still get palpitations when I watch it. Brandon Phillips hits a dribbler in front of the mound, and Halladay leaps forward to get it. But Chooch is already reaching for it, mask off, before Halladay can get too far. And then it's a race between Chooch, Phillips, and the baseball. Chooch gets off an arcing throw from his knees, Ryan Howard reaches up to get it... and the ball beats Phillips to first. (HOW MANY HUGS DID WE ALL NEED AFTER THAT!? SO MANY.) And then, Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz share what I think could be the single greatest hug in Phillies history. Halladay is smiling his face off and embracing Chooch harder than he's ever embraced another man in his entire life (I'm guessing). Chooch has one arm around Halladay's neck, and he wraps it around Halladay's head. I just love that. It's such a spontaneous and genuine show of affection. I love this hug. This hug gives me life.
Now we move from the greatest pair of huggers to one of the single greatest huggers, and you get bonus points if you already know who this is.
I'm not trying to make you sad about Domonic Brown (but oh boy, does this clip make me sad about Dom Brown). I'd like to direct your attention to the very very end of this clip, after Dom returned to the dugout following his thoroughly majestic second deck home run. He exchanges high fives with everyone, and a very special low five with Chooch. Then Mike Sweeney grabs Dom's attention with a high five, but it doesn't end there. A home run like that deserves more than a boring high five. Sweeney has an enormous bear hug for Dom, patting him on the chest before putting a hand around the back of his neck enveloping him in the arms of awesomeness. The clip cuts off just as the hug is getting underway, but I remember watching this as it happened and being awed by that hug. Sweeney wasn't on the Phillies long in 2010 (which seems to be the year of memorable hugs), but quickly became famous for the enormity and frequency of his hugs. The Fightins certainly noticed, and asked the world just how many Phillies did Mike Sweeney hug. The picture shows four, but we all know it was many more than that. I still wish I could have experienced an exuberant Mike Sweeney hug.
Let's look at one final hug. It could be in the category of Chooch hugs, but I think it deserves to stand on its own. Or maybe in the "Ryan Howard freight train hug" category.
I love how Brad Lidge falls down to his knees with his arms open, almost saying "GIVE ME THE BEST HUG YOU'VE GOT I'VE EARNED IT!" I love how Chooch obliges and then starts holding on tighter, anticipating the massive human being who was about to joyfully plow them over. And then it turns into an actual pile of Phillies, with everyone hugging everyone else (or hugging whatever body parts they could get hold of). When the hug pile breaks up, there are more hugs!
The power of hugs is unstoppable. I'm feeling much happier and I didn't even get hugged. Who knew you could benefit from just watching hugs! Do you have a favorite Phillies hug that I haven't mentioned above? Let me know in the comments.