In Clearwater, Philadelphia Phillies Fans Find a Place Where There Is No Offseason

By Mike Gibson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A few days ago, quarterback Nick Foles was standing on the sidelines of a Philadelphia Eagles game in Tampa and seemed startled by the crowd reaction.

“I had my back to the play and I heard all of this cheering and said, ‘Oh, no, what happened now?’ “ Foles said. “Then I saw that it was because of us, because we made a great play on defense. Our fans were loud.”

Foles can probably thank the Philadelphia Phillies fans for that. There is a large contingent of ex-Philadelphians who have migrated to the Clearwater/Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg area, and one of the reasons is to be near their beloved baseball team 365 days a year. The day after the Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-20, Phillies’ pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was spotted walking into the nearby Carpenter Complex, rehabbing a sore shoulder.

A lot of the Phillies fans are also Eagles fans, and there numerous Phillies and Eagles jerseys spotted among the thousands of fans who attended the football game on Sunday.

The Carpenter Complex is open 365 days a year between the Phillies hosting two Class-A teams in Clearwater: the Gulf Coast Rookie League Phillies, and the Clearwater Phillies of the fall Florida Instructional League. After that season is over, players who want to remain in Clearwater do just that to get work in and, not long after that, the first pitchers and catchers report on their own in early February.

The big month is March, where the Phillies regularly sell out Bright House Network Stadium. On March 17 of every year, the Phillies dress up in green and every fan gets a green Phillies baseball cap for St. Patrick’s Day.

Even when the big club is playing up north in the summer, Phillies players like Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard were sent down this summer to Clearwater to rehab injuries, but that happens every summer with numerous Phillies players.

All of this makes Tampa Bay really the only place where there is never a baseball offseason for Philadelphia fans. Having a football game so close on Sunday was just a bonus.

Mike Gibson is a Phillies writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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