In all of the free agent nothingness and flying spittle of Hall of Fame debates, you may have missed that the Phillies (and Aramark) are making some changes to Citizens Bank Park for the 2019 season. A few months ago, we read with a tearful eye that McFadden’s Ballpark was closing, bringing to an end a legacy of nine dollar domestic beers and loud, bass-heavy music between innings.
For those of you too good to do your drinking in the parking lot—if you’re somebody who needs a “seat” or a “server” or a “conversation with someone without a bean bag passing between you repeatedly”— then the Phillies have read your mind. The sticky-floored lechery of McFadden’s Ballpark will be morphed into a family-friendly space featuring an outdoor beer garden, a Shake Shack, a brick pizza oven, and what appears to be an Instagram wall, all of which will be ready to accept your hard-earned cash on Opening Day.
They’re trying to inject a little history and culture into the space by calling it “Pass and Stow,” a reference to a pair of little known Philadelphia historical figures.
John Pass and John Stow were a pair of foundry workers living in 1752 Philadelphia, who were tasked with recasting the Liberty Bell after it had arrived damaged from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London. Americans blamed the British, getting all haughty and dramatic as colonial know-it-all’s typically got when discussing everything from British oppression to the dryness of quail meat. The British, in turn, blamed the trans-Atlantic journey on which the bell had just gone, and also suggested, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I don’t know, maybe somebody just rang it wrong.”
In any case, the bell had to be fixed, and it was determined that Pass and Stow were the men for the job.
“At first,” writes historian and Philadelphia native Gary B. Nash in his book, The Liberty Bell, “this seemed ludicrous.”
Stow was only four years removed from his brass founder training in Britain, and Stow, born on the island of Malta, had undoubtedly received training in bell casting given the longevity of the industry in his birthplace, but ultimately led a life “shrouded in the mists of the past,” according to Nash. Despite being relative unknowns—or underdogs, if you will—Pass and Stow got to work, bashing the bell and melting down the pieces to fit their new mold. In doing so, they were able to issue a diagnosis for the damage it had suffered: a copper deficiency in the original materials.
This was, writes Nash, “an astoundingly arrogant conclusion to come from a still immature provincial seaport.” Centuries later, the still operating Whitechapel Foundry claims the Liberty Bell is the only one of its products to ever crack during usage.
And now, Pass and Stow will live on just as they likely had dreamed: By having their names on an overpriced new revenue stream for a corporate entity.
The Phillies’ replica of the bell that will sit on the front of Pass and Stow is, according to our in-house Liberty Bell historian at The Good Phight, acceptable: “There’s no clapper and they essentially just took a photo of the actual bell and made a statue of it, so honestly, it’s quite possibly the best.”
A good Liberty Bell replica is hard to find, so good on the Phillies’ designers for pleasing our expert (she is not easy to please in this regard). Of course, this is assuming that the artist’s rendition of the space the Phillies provided will come to pass, but alas. It’s January. All we have of baseball right now are our dreams.
But really, what better figures for them to name a part of the stadium after? A pair of underdogs using blunt instruments to smash something into submission, insulting their snooty rivals, and being hailed as hometown heroes for their work. Did the bell break again after they had cast it? Yes it did. But if we end the story before that, it’s like it never happened.
Perhaps someday, the new space will have its own chapter in Philadelphia history; something you can think to yourself while watching your child drop a $12 cheese burger on the ground this summer and then demand another one.